Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Advertise in our classifieds section
Your classified listing could be here!
October 4, 2022

Austin Pets Alive employees vote to unionize, forming largest U.S. animal shelter union

Skyler Sharp
A staff member walks into the Austin Pets Alive John Davenport Building on April 10, 2024.

Austin Pets Alive employees formed the nation’s largest animal shelter union when employees voted to unionize after nearly a year of organizing efforts.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers announced the successful vote on June 7, making the almost 200-employee union the nation’s largest animal shelter union. The newly formed organization will fight for improved working conditions for employees,  better pay and benefits, improved work-life balance, upgraded equipment for the animals and a stronger social media presence for potential adoptees. Negotiations for a first contract are expected to begin soon.

“We believe that, together with our pet-loving Austin community, our staff and volunteers, we can harness this new chapter to reshape the animal sheltering model,” APA wrote in a statement to the Texan. “Since our inception, we have vowed to make a difference in Austin and to fix a very broken animal sheltering system. We hope to continue that mission forward with our staff, volunteers, and supporters to make an impact across the nation.”

Biomedical engineering senior Iris Huang fostered and adopted her diabetic cat from APA about a year ago. She praised the shelter for its support and said the union would greatly benefit the shelter by enhancing animal care, as well as providing better compensation and benefits for employees.

“I think the workers and volunteers definitely need to be compensated more for the work that they do,” Huang said. “It just goes to show that they’re really deserving people that genuinely care about the animals and placing them with good homes.”

Lindsey Klem, a volunteer with APA, said the summertime is very overwhelming for the shelter because their resources are stretched thin.

Klem said the new contract may include better equipment, which would significantly benefit animal checkups and care.

“The clinic that they currently operate in — the building itself — is pretty old,” said chemical engineering senior Klem. “Getting the new technology, and definitely pay, will help with staffing.” 

However, Texas’ “right-to-work” law presents a challenge to the union.

Employees can opt out of the union while still enjoying the negotiated contract, potentially weakening their bargaining power. However, APA said it remains committed to the union, wanting better resources for both the animals and the shelter.

 “We are continuing to develop new initiatives to create a working environment where all staff have opportunities for career growth and feel safe, respected, valued and appreciated,” APA said in a statement. “Our commitment to our mission will remain constant, and we will always remember that Austin Pets Alive! began when vulnerable, homeless pets truly needed us the most. We are still their loudest voice.”

More to Discover