From the Montgomery Advertiser:
Southern Poverty Law Center won’t voluntarily recognize employee union
Brian Lyman, Montgomery Advertiser Published 4:59 p.m. CT Nov. 12, 2019 |
Southern Poverty Law Center management said Tuesday they would not voluntarily recognize a union organized by employees at the civil rights nonprofit and have hired a Virginia law firm whose website boasts about victories over labor organization attempts.
… The SPLC Union said in a statement Tuesday it was “disappointed” in the decision but that it would go through an election, if necessary.
“Management’s refusal to voluntarily recognize the union and decision to hire a law firm that specializes in ‘union avoidance strategies’ are counter to SPLC’s values,” the statement said. “The Center cannot truly claim to support workers’ rights, while also hiring a ‘union avoidance’ law firm to prevent its own workers from exercising our right to collective bargaining.”
SPLC employees formed the union after a year of turmoil in the civil rights organization that saw founder Morris Dees fired and several top executives, including President Richard Cohen and Legal Director Rhonda Brownstein, depart the SPLC.
The organization’s management have retained Hunton Andrews Kurth, a Richmond, Virginia-based law firm. The firm’s website says it advises businesses against “corporate campaigns” by unions, advocacy groups, and non-governmental organizations.
A message seeking comment was sent to Hunton Andrews Kurth on Tuesday. Amber Rogers, a labor relations attorney and partner in the firm, is advising SPLC management. She lists “union avoidance strategies” among her areas of expertise on her biography.
A message seeking comment was left with Rogers on Tuesday. Erik Olvera, a spokesman for SPLC, wrote Tuesday that Rogers “supports the work” of SPLC and “is one of the few women of color across the country, and black women in particular, who extensively practice labor law and possesses the type of experience we needed to guide us through this process.” …
Management signaled last week it would not voluntarily recognize the employees’ union. Under “Experience,” Hunton Andrews Kurth’s web page on labor management issues notes a “decisive victory” over the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW’s) attempt “to organize white-collar employees at a southeastern-based power company,” as well as an “overwhelming victory” over the IBEW in organizing nuclear power plant workers in North and South Carolina.
The firm has also hosted a webinar titled “Dodging Organized Labor’s One-Two Punch,” about micro-organizing rules that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) promulgated during President Barack Obama’s term.
…The organization for decades has faced accusations of internal discrimination against employees of color, particularly in the area of promotion. Earlier this year, whites held most leadership positions in the organization. Turnover at the SPLC has been high. Dees’ firing in March followed the resignation of an assistant legal director at SPLC over racial and gender equity concerns….
SPLC had $492.5 million in assets on Oct. 31, 2018, according to its most recent 990 form.