Code for America finally ratifies first union contract

After two years of negotiations and many contentious episodes, the civic tech nonprofit and its union reached an agreement on new benefits.
Code for America
(Code for America)

The civic tech nonprofit Code for America announced Monday it’s reached a collective bargaining agreement with its union, CfA Workers United, following nearly two years of negotiations.

The agreement, which is in place through Jan. 1, 2026, includes annual pay raises of 3.4% over the next two years, expanded paid paternal leave, open paid time off and layoff protections, among other benefits. A spokesperson for the union counted the new benefits as a victory for the group’s membership, which currently totals around 90.

“Members of CWU work tirelessly to help improve the social safety net for everyone; this contract is a safety net for us,” Matt Bernius, a principal researcher at Code for America since March 2020 and a member of the bargaining committee, said in a press release. “We are excited about what we won in this contract, and I am also proud that we were able to hardcode Code for America’s values into the contract from giving staff a role in making decisions that will impact them to ensuring criminal background checks will not put anyone’s employment at risk.” 

The union also gained protections against the use of monitoring software, professional development benefits and up to $10,000 for gender-affirming care. The new contract also provides bilingual employees an annual stipend of $200.


Union employees with new children will also gain three additional weeks of paid family leave (for a total of 17 weeks), up to $10,000 to support the cost of adoption and fertility procedures and the option to return to work on a part-time basis for two months.

“Today’s agreement marks a truly historic moment for Code for America, the civic tech community, and the entire nonprofit sector,” Code for America CEO Amanda Renteria said in a press release. “This CBA shows what is possible when we work together to improve systems for a new generation: a best-in-class benefits package that sets a model for technology nonprofits across the country. We look forward to being a resource for other organizations navigating the future of work.”

Employee benefits for health, life and disability insurance are staying the same under the new contract, as are the company’s medical coverage stipend, commuter benefits, breastfeeding accommodations and sabbatical leave policies. The union’s request for a four-day work week did not make it across the finish line.

Code for America employees began organizing to form a union in the fall of 2020 and the organization voluntarily recognized the union in October 2021. The negotiation process, which formally began in March 2022, was arduous. Negotiations included a hearing by the National Labor Relations Board and broke down at one point this past April.

The civic tech nonprofit this year cut ties with its longtime local chapters and announced a new organizational strategy following sudden layoffs that reduced staff by nearly 20%.

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