Yoga Instructors at YogaWorks Want to Unionize

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On Monday, teachers at the national chain YogaWorks asked the company to recognize their union, the New York Times reports. (YogaWorks is owned by the private equity firm Great Hill Partners, which also owns G/O Media, which owns the very site you’re reading right now. Great Hill Partners acquired the company in 2014.)


The teachers behind the union work at the company’s New York locations and are unionizing with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. The union would be the first to organize yoga instructors in the country, but the reasons for unionizing are pretty familiar: It’s currently unclear, teachers at YogaWorks say, how to qualify for a raise and how teachers are assigned classes, and a better sense of transparency is a key goal of the unionizing effort. They also work long hours for low pay and without insurance; one worker described 15-hour days in which she brings home just $175.

More from the Times:

Most YogaWorks teachers are something of a hybrid, classified as employees but given only part-time work with little or no job security, organizers said. And many of those teachers also do “gig work” as independent contractors for other employers. The effect, multiple instructors said, can be exhausting, with teachers constantly scrambling to make ends meet, competing for work and spending unpaid hours preparing for sessions.

YogaWorks, unsurprisingly, is already deploying classic union-busting tactics. After union officials and teachers asked the company for recognition, the New York Times reports, the regional vice president for YogaWorks Heather Eary sent an email to employees writing “DON’T SIGN A CARD” and “YogaWorks does not believe that employees joining—and paying dues to—a union is in the best interest of YogaWorks, our employees or our students.” Well, according to at least 100 instructors in the proposed union, it is.

“What would it look like if the career of teaching yoga supported the wellness of a teacher, as much as that teacher supports the wellness of his or her students?,” the YogaWorks union effort tweeted from their account on Tuesday. “It’s gonna take a union.”

Hazel Cills is the Pop Culture Reporter at Jezebel. Her writing has been published by outlets including The Los Angeles Times, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, ELLE, and more.


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As a yoga instructor, props to the YogaWorks teachers for unionizing. This is also something Yoga Alliance has looked into as it falls under advocacy. It’s very difficult to teach yoga full time and be paid adequately to do it, and not many people are paid decently for their time, skills, and expertise. I think YogaWorks is second to CorePower in terms of the number of teachers and studios it has.

I haven’t sought teaching opportunities for about 2 years because, even for part time, it’s almost not worth the trouble.