Southern Poverty Law Center’s staff votes to unionize

Southern Poverty Law Center’s staff votes to unionize
The Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center is a watchdog organization best known for its work monitoring extremist groups.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Employees of the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC, have voted to unionize, according to a statement released Monday afternoon.

By a vote of 142 to 45, the SPLC’s staff voted to join the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild.

SPLC Interim CEO and President Karen Baynes-Dunning issued a statement saying the organization looks forward to reaching an agreement with the guild “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.”

Baynes-Dunning added that "as with every election, there are a range of emotions about the outcome. We go forward as one SPLC with gratitude for the commitment and engagement of our talented staff and the work we will continue doing together.”

The SPLC recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Southern Poverty Law Center Civil Rights Memorial, a place to reflect, to teach, and to learn about the struggles for equality that took place in Montgomery. It honors 40 people who were killed during the civil rights movement.

But 2019 has been a tough year for the organization. It was rocked by discrimination accusations with some employees saying it had racist and sexist practices.

SPLC co-founder, Morris Dees, was fired in March and longtime President Richard Cohen resigned shortly afterward, prompting the organization to name Baynes-Dunning as interim president.

The SPLC monitors groups it says spread hate, but it’s grown from a small organization based in Montgomery to an expansive, operation with hundreds of employees at offices in four states and an endowment approaching a half-billion dollars.

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