After employees at Brave Space Alliance (BSA)which describes itself as "the first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ+ Center located on the South Side of Chicago"formed a union that the CEO, LaSaia Wade, approved, another situation has unfolded.
In a letter Windy City Times received from what was supposedly the Brave Space Alliance Workers Union entitled "Brave Space Alliance Union Busting and Employee Retaliation," the organization said, "On Monday [April 11], our beloved communications coordinator and the lead of our BSA union organizing effort was unjustly removed from their position at Brave Space Alliance. This staff member was crucial to many BSA social media campaigns as well as to the formation of our union at BSA. We want to emphasize that this union would not exist without them or their labor. The staff of BSA has been dramatically impacted and saddened by the sudden removal of our colleague."
The situation reportedly involves now-former BSA employee Taylor Ngiri Seaberg.
The letter continued, "Brave Space Alliance has reiterated that this staff member was not fired but that they voluntarily resigned. That statement is untrue. They expressed to their supervisor previously on March 23rd that they were considering leaving the company in July. These communications were incorrectly interpreted as a voluntary resignation and resulted in the expedited removal of our union leader.
"On April 4th, they told their direct supervisor that their mental health was impacted by the workplace and were given three days to take a break for their mental health by their direct supervisor after disagreeing about overtime pay.
"However, after they left the office to take the mental health break they were offered, they were removed from all of BSA's social-media accounts [and] the workplace Slack, and were gaslighted.
"Management repeatedly told this staff member that they had voluntarily resigned when all they did was express concern for their mental health due to unequal treatment in the workplace.
However, BSA Associate Executive Director Stephanie Skora told Windy City Times that what is detailed in the letter is patently false. Skora provided a March 23 text that stated, "After reflection, I will be leaving BSA in July of this year. I'll make sure to have things wrapped up along the way. I'm interested in learning more and having professional development skills. I also do not believe this company is a good fit for my skill set. I am comfortable being a contractor. I thank you and appreciate you greatly for [your] time as a supervisor."
Skora also told Windy City Times, "On Monday, [April 4], Taylor resigned at the conclusion of their meeting with Jae, storming out of the building (this can be confirmed by our security guard, we can get a statement confirming if you'd like but she's sick currently).
"Tuesday morning, Taylor removed themselves from their Department Slack channel, just before they were scheduled to begin work. Their schedule began at 10 am on Tuesday, and they did not show up to work that day, or attend the mandatory 10 am weekly staff meeting. There was not a PTO request from Taylor for Tuesday, either.
"We understood the combination of these factors to constitute a full resignation:
Their previous written notice
Verbal resignation the day prior
Self-removal from a BSA Slack channel core to their role
No-call no-show for work the day following the resignation, and non-attendance at a mandatory weekly meeting."
Skora also provided Windy City Times with a message notifying Seaberg, "Your final day at work will be recorded as April 4th, 2022, and final pay will be processed upon [the] return of BSA property." Skora also stated, "10:29am on Tuesday [April 5], [Seaberg] contacted our IT person, saying that they had just woken up and had found their access to their BSA accounts locked. (This is contradicted by their self-removal from the Slack channel more than 30 minutes prior.)"
Addendum: Windy City Times received an email from the union on April 12 that stated, "The Brave Space Alliance Worker's Union is focused on moving forward to the bargaining table within the coming weeks. Unfortunately, this press release was sent prematurely without consent from the entire union. As such, we are not looking to engage with this dispute at this time. In an effort to organize for positive change, we are turning our focus to productive conversations."