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ACLU of Missouri employees on Wednesday joined a growing movement of nonprofit workers by announcing they have unionized. 

Alicia Hernández, ACLU of Missouri community organizer, said as other ACLU offices and the national affiliate organized, she and her coworkers began discussing the idea.

The staff’s union representative, Shannon Duffy, sent a letter Wednesday to Luz María Henríquez, ACLU of Missouri executive director, announcing their unionization. 

This announcement comes as the ACLU of Kansas staff organized in July and the national ACLU staff organized in January. 

“The American Civil Liberties Union has championed the rights of workers to organize and unionize since the beginning of the organization's inception,” Hernández said. “And so, with the ACLU being so strongly rooted in these values, we feel that this will be a good process — that there will be cooperation and we don't expect any major push back or issues.”

Duffy said the staff signed authorization cards and will ask their management to voluntarily recognize the unit. If management does not, Duffy said they’ll seek an election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board — a process that typically takes a few weeks.

“I expect the ACLU of Missouri to live its values — and they do stand for certain things in the community, which is fighting for things like inclusion, and equality and justice, right? I mean, these are bedrock principles of the ACLU,” Duffy said.

United Media Guild was established in January 1934 as the St. Louis Newspaper Guild. Duffy said the organization changed its name to United Media Guild as the breadth of employees’ professions and locations grew. 

Hernández said she thinks there's often a misconception that only certain types of workers who need protection from unions — such as tradespeople and laborers 

“But really, anyone who is a worker benefits from a union,” she said. “And that is why we also wanted to join the new movement of nonprofits unionizing.”

United Media Guild represents approximately 25,000 people throughout the Midwest. They are part of the Communication Workers of America, which represents over 600,000 people nationally. 

The ACLU of Missouri consists of 17 people, according to its website

“We are doing this because we love our organization and because we do see it as a duty to live in our values, not just the values that we want to see in the state of Missouri,” Hernández said. “But we feel that it is important to replicate those values within our own organizations. And that includes equity, transparency, cooperation. We think that that's the way we can have, like, a better organization in a better union.”

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