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.”



Jon Schleuss wins NewsGuild election



Following a historic re-run of the national election, Schleuss wins 4-year term for NewsGuild-CWA International President by a 465-vote margin: 1,979 to 1,514.

For Immediate Release | December 10, 2019
Media Inquiries: Dan Gabor, | 610-742-4748

NEW YORK — Jon Schleuss, a data and graphics reporter at the Los Angeles Times, was elected International President of the NewsGuild-CWA on Tuesday, defeating 12-year incumbent Bernie Lunzer after running on a platform to reform and modernize North America’s largest labor union for journalists.

At 32, Schleuss becomes one of the youngest presidents of an international union. The Guild represents about 20,000 journalists and other workers in the United States and Canada, including at the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, Reuters, BuzzFeed News, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Vice Canada, the AFL-CIO and New York Magazine.

“I could not be more honored, humbled and inspired by the faith and trust my fellow Guild members have placed in me,” said Schleuss, after the votes were tallied in New York City. “While I have won the office of President of the NewsGuild, the real winners here are the members who organized, mobilized, and claimed the future for their union and for themselves.”

Schleuss, whose four-year term begins immediately, won with 1,979 votes to Lunzer’s 1,514, reversing the result of a contest between the two candidates earlier this year. The Guild invalidated the previous election — in which Lunzer received just 261 more votes than Schleuss — following widespread complaints regarding the failure to ensure ballots reached all eligible voters.

The results of the earlier, disputed presidential election were announced last May. In his formal challenge of that vote, Schleuss outlined countless problems with the election proceedings, including the mishandling of ballots, the use of union resources to benefit the incumbent’s campaign, and failure to give members adequate notice both of the opportunity to nominate candidates for president and the union’s two other international offices and of the upcoming election itself. The Sector Election Referendum Committee of the NewsGuild-CWA was forced to throw out the results of the election and administer a re-run.

Throughout the process, Schleuss called for more democracy and transparency in the Guild at the international level, as well as for the long-overdue adoption of cutting-edge organizing, bargaining and communications strategies.

“I’m excited by the energy I’m sure he’ll bring to the Guild,” said Casper News Guild chairman Seth Klamann. “As the industry continues to change beneath our feet, it’s imperative we organize more newsrooms, big and small. Under Jon, I know supporting those efforts will be a priority.”

Schleuss thanked Lunzer for his 12 years of service to the Guild and pledged to heal any divisions that the two elections had opened within the union. Schleuss will immediately relocate to Washington, D.C., and will work out of the NewsGuild-CWA headquarters.

“We now have a stirring of wind at our backs, and we must build on our accomplishments,” said Schleuss. “It won’t always be easy, but our mission is to continue to grow the Guild and fight to preserve the future of journalism. We are committed to building the strongest, most transparent, and democratic union possible. Our members deserve nothing less.”

Schleuss was joined by supporters at Tuesday’s vote count, held at the downtown New York City offices of the American Arbitration Association, which conducted the election. Members were elated to hear the news, with dozens of rank-and-file members joining Schleuss outside of the NYC offices of the American Arbitration Association to celebrate the win on Tuesday afternoon.

“Our union has never been at such a critical crossroads, with surging interest in organizing newsrooms amid an uncertain media landscape. We need someone with the passion, energy, brains and guts to keep us on the right path, and Jon’s up to the job. Our members couldn’t be more fired up by this historic win,” said Law 360 reporter Juan Carlos Rodriguez.

“Today’s victory underscores the hunger our members have to align their union with the journalistic principles of democracy, transparency and accountability. I am thrilled by Jon’s victory, and excited to continue to build on the inspiring work of NewsGuild members across the country,” said Susan DeCarava, President-elect of the NewsGuild of New York, who just recently won office on a campaign of member-led reform.

A decade ago, Schleuss became online editor and managed a staff of journalists at the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He later worked part time as a reporter and weekend host at the local NPR station. In 2013, Schleuss moved to Los Angeles to join the Times. His award-winning journalism has included reports on disastrous wildfires, L.A. County’s shocking number of unclaimed bodies and lighter fare like an analysis of Girl Scout cookies. In 2018, Schleuss and his colleagues ran a historic campaign to secure union representation at the L.A. Times, after more than 130 years as a non-union newsroom.

The Threat of Alden Global Capital


The newspaper unions of Tribune Publishing — representing hundreds of employees across the company — are gravely concerned by Tuesday’s news that Alden Global Capital has purchased enough shares to make it the company’s largest shareholder.

In an email to staff, Tim Knight, CEO of Tribune Publishing said: “A change of investor, even a large investor, will not have a direct impact on how we conduct our daily activities.”
We strongly disagree. We don’t see Tuesday’s news as simply another change in stock ownership.

Alden is not a company that invests in newspapers so they succeed. They buy into newspaper businesses with the express purpose of harvesting out huge profits, well-above industry standards, and slashing staff and resources  — until the papers ultimately closed.  This has been proven over and over again.

We know we’re faced with the very real threat that Alden is looking to bleed its next chain of newspapers dry.

This news about Alden does not deter us, however, in our continuing fight for our members and for the work we do in our communities. We move forward, joining the call to Save Local News, led by the newspapers owned by Alden under its Digital First Media.

Unlike Tribune and Alden, we believe local journalism is worth fighting for.



The Chicago Tribune Guild

The Tidewater Guild

The Morning Call Guild

The Chesapeake Guild

The Hartford Courant Guild

The Baltimore Sun Guild


Southern Poverty Law Center files for union representation


MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Staff at the Southern Poverty Law Center — a historic Civil Rights organization advancing social justice through legal, educational and advocacy efforts primarily in the Deep South — are forming a union.

A supermajority of employees spanning SPLC’s 11 offices across five states and Washington, D.C., today filed a union election petition with the National Labor Relations Board requesting representation by the Washington-Baltimore News Guild, Local 32035 of The News Guild-Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO.

The SPLC Union organizing committee is calling on SPLC leadership to stand by the principles that animate the nonprofit — equity, justice and diversity — by voluntarily recognizing the Union and respecting employees’ call for deep and lasting engagement in the future of the Center.

“We ask SPLC’s senior leaders to respect the desire of its dedicated employees to form a union and have a say in what the future of the Center looks like,” the committee said. “Current leadership has committed itself to the task of changing SPLC’s workplace culture. Collective bargaining ensures workers the opportunity to play a leading role in this transformation.”

“Forty years after the Greensboro Massacre, we hope to rekindle the flame of labor organizing in the Deep South and form a strong union at 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, and national origin.”

Washington-Baltimore News Guild Organizing Director Bruce Jett said, “The Washington-Baltimore News Guild supports — and is proud to represent — SPLC staff. Workers rights are human rights. Today, a supermajority of SPLC’s workforce took a historic step toward upholding and protecting those rights.”

The News Guild filed the petition in Baltimore, Md., this morning. The organizing committee awaits the response of SPLC’s senior leadership and stands ready to work together with management and begin negotiating the organization’s first contract.

To contact the SPLC Union, email us at or find us on Twitter @SPLCUnion.

To contact Bruce Jett with the Washington-Baltimore News Guild, call 703-627-4547 or e-mail

Find the Washington-Baltimore News Guild on Twitter @WBNG32035.

Reminder: Front Page Awards 9/26!


All are invited to join us in celebrating our Front Page Award Winners at our Awards Ceremony on 9/26/2019. 



1301 K Street NW

Washington, DC 20005

Program Starts at 7 p.m.

Please RSVP via EventBrite so we have enough food and beverages.

Questions? Please contact Peter Brusoe at