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On-Campus Event

Organizing the South: The Union of Southern Service Workers

November 2, 2023
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Under our current system of labor laws, U.S. workers face tremendous challenges to organizing and engaging in collective bargaining with employers – but in no other region has it been more difficult to unionize workers than in the South. In 2022, union membership rates in every state in the South fell below the national average, which hit a record low of 10.1 percent. Workers in the South have faced unique, historically entrenched challenges to union organizing – from the exclusion of agricultural and domestic workers from the National Labor Relations Act that intentionally left many Black Southern workers outside the purview of the law to the impact of right-to-work laws on limiting union resources and bargaining power across the region.

In spite of these challenges, Southern workers have been building coalitions, getting involved in politics, and organizing to advance racial and economic justice in their communities. The Union of Southern Service Workers (USSW) has been working to organize the “unorganizable” in mobilizing workers across the retail, food service, and care industries. Built upon years of organizing efforts by Raise Up and Fight for $15 and a Union in the region, USSW is leading a movement rooted in community action and antiracism to shift the balance of power in the South, the impact of which will fundamentally shape the future of organized labor in this country.

Join us for a panel discussion on Thursday, November 2nd with USSW and State Rep. Angie Nixon of the Florida House of Representatives, District 13 to hear their perspectives on building a cross-sector movement, navigating the challenges of labor law preemption, and what policymakers, advocates, and others can do to help empower Southern workers in this moment.

Co-sponsored with LEAP; reception to follow.

Panelist Bios:

Dorothy Singletary, Assistant General Counsel, SEIU

Dorothy Singletary serves as Assistant General Counsel at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). She advocates for fast food, retail, and home care workers with SEIU’s Fight for $15 campaign and the Union of Southern Service Workers campaign. Before joining SEIU, Dorothy worked as Assistant General Counsel at Climate Jobs National Resource Center (CJRNC), a non-profit that works to create good union jobs in the clean energy sector. Prior to her work at CJNRC, she served as an SEIU legal fellow. Dorothy received a B.A. in political science from the University of Maryland College Park and earned her J.D. from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.

Representative Angie Nixon, Florida House of Representatives, District 13

Angie Nixon is a native of Jacksonville and a graduate of Stanton College Prep and the University of Florida. She grew up in Jacksonville and has a deep love for the city and its people. Since November of 2020, she has served as a Representative in the Florida House and is now representing the newly formed District 13.

Angie turned her passion and love for the community into a 10-year career as a community organizer. Over the years, she has created place-making events that provided access to healthy food options in food deserts, brought in educational and training opportunities for small business owners, and created family friendly environments that focused on the overall health and well-being of residents.

Angie co-founded and operated Northside & LOVE (Lifting Our Various Enterprises) which was a summer arts and vendors market, sponsored by VyStar and Aetna, that took place in the district at Lonnie Miller Park in 2013 and 2014.  She is also the founder of Kidpreneur Fest, an annual event that showcases kid entrepreneurs pitching their businesses for a chance at funding.  She is currently the organizer and co-founder of The Melanin Market, now in its fourth year.  It provides small business owners with resources to grow their businesses, provides healthy food options in a food desert and connects residents to resources and services needed to enhance their quality of life.

Angie is also the founder of The Moxie Group, a community outreach and consulting firm that focuses on empowering underserved and underrepresented communities.  She is the mom of a real life superhero, 13 year old author, Natalie “Moxie” McGriff.  

Angie previously served as the North Florida Regional Organizer for New Florida Majority. She also served as the State Field Director for the Service Employees International Union, the Director for the Florida Public Service Union’s Higher Education Campaign, the Political Director for the Florida Democratic Party and is currently the Executive Director for a coalition of statewide progressive organizations in Florida. She also serves as the State Representative for House District 13.


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