Why are we unionizing?

A supermajority of non-supervisory staff have pledged to vote yes to SPLC Union because we unequivocally stand for the dignity of every worker. Together, we will create a workplace that reflects our values: racial justice; economic justice; restorative justice; diversity, equity, and inclusion; gender equity; disability rights; safety of undocumented workers and non U.S. citizens; and a workplace free of racism, sexual harassment, and transphobia. 

Our reasons to unionize may look a little bit different to everyone. But we are united by our collective effort to drive positive change at SPLC. Our Union will finally give us a seat at the table as we begin to chart a new era at the Center. We are determined to make SPLC a more equitable, democratic, and sustainable workplace for all of its workers. We are committed to disrupting white supremacy, pursuing equity, building solidarity, and uniting workers.

What could our Union do for me?

The Union will provide you with a voice in our workplace. SPLC will be legally required to abide by the contract that we negotiate.

Currently, SPLC staff are at-will employees. That means we can be fired for any reason, or no reason, at any given time – without any recourse. With a union, we become just cause employees. Our Union would prevent SPLC management from making unilateral decisions about our workplace. Your job and benefits will ultimately be safer and better with SPLC Union.

What are some of the other benefits of having a union?

With a union, we – the workers of SPLC – will be able to advocate and bargain for better working conditions, improvements in pay, and more democratic control over our workplace. SPLC will be legally bound to honor the collective bargaining agreement that we negotiate.

Nationwide, employees in unions make more money and receive better benefits than non-unionized employees. Check out some of the contracts The Guild has negotiated with other organizations.

While our new leadership has pledged their commitment to transforming our workplace, the organization continues to bleed staff – particularly women of color – as a result of hostile working conditions. Serious and systemic problems remain in our workplace, ranging from sexual harassment, institutional racism, and pay inequities. Our Union presents an opportunity for staff to have a meaningful say in the transformation of the Center; it provides us with a seat at the table and the ability to disrupt the continued pattern of top-down unilateral decision making.

Why unionize with The Guild?

The Washington-Baltimore News Guild is a progressive union affiliated with the Communication Workers of America. We researched and reached out to a number of other unions, but found The Guild’s commitment to bottom-up organizing and their willingness to engage with us the most compelling. The Guild represents national non-profit organizations similar to SPLC,  including: Lambda Legal, The Advancement Project, Jobs with Justice, Working America and the Center for Popular Democracy.

Who is leading SPLC Union?

Staff of SPLC are the Union. Workers from Development, Donor Services, IT, Communications, Teaching Tolerance, Intelligence Project, Legal, Administration, Finance, Creative, Marketing, Digital, and CRMC are driving our Union organizing effort.

Once the Union is certified, its members will democratically elect representatives – approximately 10% of the total members from every office and department – to form a bargaining committee. The democratically elected bargaining committee will lead negotiations with SPLC for our first contract. But all contract decisions will be voted on by all union members. WBNG staff will support and counsel us, but ultimately, we will make the decisions that benefit us all.

Who can join the Union?

Full-time and part-time non-supervisory staff can be part of the union bargaining unit. The NLRA states that “supervisors” who have the authority to hire, fire, suspend, and discipline are excluded, along with “confidential” employees, who have day to day access to labor relations material and may act with or without independent discretion.

How will the election work?

Ballots will be mailed to each bargaining unit member’s home address by the National Labor Relations Board on Monday, Nov. 25. The NLRB will get your address from SPLC. Please confirm that your address is up to date in our ADP system no later than Sunday, November 17, 2019 to ensure your ballot is mailed to the correct address. The NLRB will count the ballots on Monday, Dec. 16. All ballots must be returned before then to be counted! If you don’t receive a ballot by Monday, Dec. 2 and think you’re eligible, contact us and/or call the NLRB at 410-962-2822 immediately!

How much are union dues?

Union dues are 1.4% of your base income. Dues haven’t increased in over 20 years. If you choose to be a voting member of the Union, dues will be deducted from your paycheck every 2 weeks. Union dues will not be collected until a contract has been reached and we’ve voted yes to accept it. Dues pay for The Guild to represent SPLC Union members, provide legal expertise, and help us negotiate, implement, and execute a successful contract.

Would we go on strike?

A strike would be a last resort in the event of a breakdown in bargaining efforts. In such a case, it would need significant approval from the entire bargaining unit. 98% of the time bargaining efforts undertaken with The Guild do not end in a strike. The SPLC Union has no intent to strike, so long as SPLC is willing to sit at the table and bargain with us in good faith.

Can management retaliate against me for organizing or joining our Union?

No! Our right to organize our workplace is protected activity under federal labor law. We have the right to collectively bargain to improve our workplace conditions. Also, you are not required to share with management whether you support the Union.

Retaliation can take many forms: termination, demotion, menial assignments, hostility, or even more subtle forms. If a supervisor or manager interrogates you about organizing activities, threatens you for engaging in protected activity, or pressures you in any way, please document the incident and immediately report it to [email protected].

Does our Union drive mean leadership has to suspend ongoing transformation initiatives?

No! The filing of our election petition did not require senior leadership to suspend necessary initiatives to address SPLC’s inequities. These unilateral decisions demonstrate the need for SPLC Union. Our Union will help drive necessary changes at the Center by engaging in negotiations regarding workplace conditions with management and entering into a collective bargaining agreement, which SPLC will be legally obligated to honor.

What are Weingarten Rights?

In 1975 the United States Supreme Court in the case of NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc. 420 U.S. 251 (1975) upheld a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision that employees have a right to union representation at investigatory interviews. These rights have become known as the Weingarten Rights. If you are in an investigatory interview that could lead to discipline or a change in working conditions, request union representation. Here’s what you can say:

What is the best way to contact the Union?

SPLC Union’s official email is [email protected]. We recommend you use this email to ask questions to our Union, as it will be answered by The Guild and fellow staff. We advise against contacting the [email protected] for updates on the bargaining unit or for information about The Guild, as it is not maintained by SPLC Union or The Guild.

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