Southern Poverty Law Center Staff Vote to Unionize


December 17, 2019


The SPLC Union Organizing Committee is excited to announce that its effort to unionize the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has prevailed. On December 16, 2019, the National Labor Relations Board conducted a ballot count. A majority of staff across 11 offices in five states and Washington D.C. voted in favor of representation by the Washington-Baltimore News Guild. The SPLC Union won the election by an overwhelming majority, 142 to 45. 


The SPLC Union is the third largest unit in WBNG and the largest non-profit unit in WBNG.


Below is a statement by the SPLC Union Organizing Committee:


“We celebrate this momentous victory, which comes after nearly nine months of tireless organizing by a diverse coalition of staff in varying positions, from all departments eligible for union representation, and in every office – who are committed to the values and principles upon which this union organizing drive was founded. The committee engaged colleagues around the Center and garnered the support of a supermajority of staff, who filed a union election petition with the National Labor Relations Board on November 8, 2019. Workers from across the Center helped us bring the overwhelming victory home with incredible voter turnout.


“This is a historic moment in the history of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and in the history of labor organizing in the Deep South.  We value the contributions of our colleagues at the Center, past and present, who laid the groundwork for our efforts. 


“From the beginning of this union organizing drive, our values and principles have been clear:

  • We believe in the power of collective bargaining.
  • We believe in equal rights, respect and dignity for all workers.
  • We are committed to creating a more equitable, just, diverse and inclusive workplace.
  • We are committed to anti-racism and acknowledge union organizing as a tool in dismantling systems of white supremacy in the workplace.
  • We believe in workplace democracy and recognize union organizing as a tool to ensure a participatory decision-making system.
  • We are committed to economic justice and recognize union organizing as a tool to secure fair wages.
  • We are committed to gender equity and recognize union organizing as a tool to ensure a workplace free of discrimination, including sexual harassment and transphobia.
  • We are committed to disability rights and recognize union organizing as a tool to create an accessible work environment.
  • We are committed to immigrant justice and recognize union organizing as a tool to ensure no worker is disadvantaged, regardless of their national origin.


“We look forward to working in the coming months to negotiate a collective bargaining contract that works for the benefit of all workers, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical ability, and national origin. Though we were disappointed in the response of SPLC’s senior leadership to our union organizing drive, we stand ready to work together with them during the contract negotiation process.”