Working for a sustainable future, Bradenton Herald employees announce union drive

Organizing in the pandemic: Group photos are Zoom screenshots.

April 6, 2020 – With newsrooms around the country ravaged by fallout from the coronavirus, the employees of the Bradenton Herald have announced that they are unionizing. They asked McClatchy, the publication’s parent company, for voluntary recognition.

The group is part of a surge in union organizing in the industry and said they are joining with colleagues across the country to work for a sustainable future not just for individual newsrooms, but for the news industry as a whole.

McClatchy’s recent bankruptcy has raised “grave concerns for the future of local journalism, and prompted a broader conversation about media ownership and media sustainability,” they said.

“The staff demands that McClatchy recognize local journalism for what it is, a community necessity — particularly during this global pandemic,” organizers wrote.

The NewsGuild-CWA already represents approximately 150 McClatchy employees at six publications, including the Miami Herald, the Sacramento Bee and the Lexington Herald-Leader. Employees of the Idaho Statesman, another McClatchy publication, announced last month that they are also seeking union recognition. The group will become a part of Local 3108, based in Florida.

“The Bradenton Herald has served readers since 1922, and it’s time for the company to invest in our mission so that we can continue to serve our community,” said Jessica DeLeon, reporter. “Together we’ll negotiate a fair contract to improve our working conditions, strengthen our newspaper and allow us to meet the challenges we face in these difficult times.”

Reporter Ryan Callihan said, “In our newsroom, editors have been laid off and reporting positions have been frozen. McClatchy’s unwillingness to fill empty positions and to help staff provide our communities with vital information is unacceptable.”

They are seeking their “natural place — as an equal partner in decisions” that affect the staff.

“Our union will amplify our voices as we advocate for the expansion of coverage in our community that has supported us for nearly 100 years.”

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