Bird. Union. Bird Union. Have two words ever sounded so good together? Answer: no! But “Bird Union” isn’t just a delightful phrase—it’s a real thing. That’s because, on February 22, the staff union of the National Audubon Society announced that it was changing its name from Audubon for All to—you guessed it—the Bird Union. (Also the union’s logo is “solidarity is for the birds”—perfection.)
The reason for this was simple: John James Audubon, the legendary ornithologist and artist whose name is synonymous with birding, was a terrible human being. As the Bird Union said in its statement about its name change:
The [National Audubon Society] is named for John James Audubon, a racist white man who enslaved at least nine Black people and contributed to Samuel George Morton’s “race science,” which claimed white superiority over other races—ideas criticized at the time and now discredited.
Pretty open-and-shut case there!
Now, as you know, birds and unions are two of Discourse Blog’s favorite things. So when we saw that there was literally a Bird Union out there, we knew we had to talk to them for an episode of Discourse Pod. Luckily, the Bird Union, which is affiliated with the Communications Workers of America, is filled with extremely nice and cool people, so they said yes!
This brings us to the latest edition of Discourse Pod. We spoke with Rodrick Leary, a data scientist at the Audubon Society, and Chris Thomas, a staff rep at the CWA, last week, about the name change, their ongoing bargaining negotiations with Audubon (which is deploying a very familiar set of scummy union-busting tactics), their efforts to build an ethos of antiracism and inclusivity in their workplace and in the birding world at large, and, of course, BIRDS. It was so much fun, and we hope you have fun listening to it.