Democratic fundraising juggernaut ActBlue slashed 17 percent of its workforce on Monday, less than two months after its union gleefully announced it had struck a landmark collective bargaining agreement with the company that raised the bar on how employees should be treated.
The ActBlue union is singing a different tune now that 32 of the 54 employees terminated during Monday's layoffs were members of its bargaining unit. The union said its members were being unfairly punished for the "financial difficulties" of ActBlue, adding that the layoffs put the organization's progressive accolades at risk and will jeopardize its ability to finance the Democratic movement in the 2024 elections. The union alleged that ActBlue management refused to reduce its own bloated pay to stave off the layoffs, saying that doing so would have been "oppressive."
"We are disappointed in Leadership and the Board’s refusal to take pay cuts or stipend freezes," the union said in a statement Monday. "Prioritizing executive profit over rank and file workers’ livelihoods does not live up to [ActBlue’s] progressive values."
ActBlue’s leadership is handsomely compensated. At least 11 employees raked in over $200,000 in 2021, tax forms show. The company hired its first black female CEO in January after its prior leader stepped down after a 14-year stint. The new ActBlue CEO, Regina Wallace-Jones, is the former mayor of East Palo Alto, Calif., and has also held executive positions at Facebook, Yahoo, Ebay, and Lendstreet.
ActBlue said Monday the layoffs were part of a "restructuring" effort to ensure it can best deliver a strategic fundraising advantage to Democrats. The union’s allegations of ActBlue financial difficulties come as somewhat of a shock, however. ActBlue is the predominant fundraising vehicle for the progressive movement, having raised nearly $12 billion for left-of-center groups and politicians at the local, state, and national levels since 2004. ActBlue charges a flat 3.95 percent fee on every dollar it raises, which has enabled the organization to accumulate a veritable boatload of cash as it solidified its monopoly in the progressive fundraising scene.
ActBlue reported sitting on a cash reserve of $68.7 million at the end of 2022, according to its latest available Federal Election Commission filing.
But that’s just half of the picture. ActBlue Technical Services, the nonprofit organization that manages ActBlue’s technology infrastructure, reported holding net assets of $92.8 million at the end of 2021, according to its latest available financial disclosure.
ActBlue’s gravy train shows no signs of stopping. The 2024 presidential election cycle is expected to be the most expensive in history, being the first to surpass $10 billion in political spending, according to AdImpact. Democratic groups are already posting record fundraising hauls in the first quarter of 2023. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee posted record off-year fundraising totals in both January and February.
ActBlue said Monday that it offered its laid-off staffers eight weeks of pay and benefits. They will also be able to opt-in for the opportunity to have their contact information shared with prospective employers, the company said.
ActBlue did not return a request for comment.