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Staff At The Southern Poverty Law Center In Alabama ‘Go Union’

Published Thursday, January 2, 2020
by Brian Lyman/The Montgomery Advertiser
Staff At The Southern Poverty Law Center In Alabama ‘Go Union’

(MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA) - Staff at the Southern Poverty Law Center have voted to Unionize after a year of turmoil at the organization. 

Both the Union and management said the vote was 142 to 45 in favor of organizing.  Both the Southern Poverty Law Center and a source within the SPLC Union, which organized the drive, confirmed the results after ballots from an election were counted.

The Union claimed the support of more than two-thirds of Employees at the Civil Rights Non-Profit, but the SPLC declined to recognize the Union voluntarily and hired a law firm that specializes in "Union Avoidance" Strategies.

“We look forward to working with the Guild to negotiate an agreement that will drive and support both our internal culture and the communities we serve as we continue our shared efforts to reach the full promise of our organization," the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a statement. 

Founded in 1971, the SPLC has been on the front lines of several fights for Civil Rights and against poverty.

It sued a Ku Klux Klan organization into bankruptcy in the late 1980s.

The organization has also been involved in high-profile state fights, including the battle over the 2011 Immigration Bill and the recent battles over the treatment of inmates in the state's prisons.

The SPLC has also drawn significant financial support.

On September 30th, 2018, it reported revenues of nearly $122 million and total assets of $492.3 million. 

But SPLC has long been dogged by charges of internal discrimination against minorities, particularly in leadership roles at the organization.

Following the resignation of an assistant legal director in the Spring over racial and gender equity concerns at the organization, SPLC co-founder Morris Dees was ousted from the group.

Several executives departed afterward, including SPLC President Richard Cohen and SPLC Legal Director Rhonda Brownstein. 

Organizers filed a petition to organize the Union under the Washington-Baltimore News Guild Local 320235 on November 7th.

“We hope to rekindle the flame of Labor Organizing in the Deep South and form a strong Union at the SPLC that lays the foundation for a legacy of equal rights, respect, and dignity for all Workers, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical ability, ad national origin,” the Union said in a statement at the time. 

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