The staff of Education Week took a major step this week toward forming a union as they seek to ensure a more transparent and equitable workplace.
Reporters, visual artists, digital and engagement specialists, marketing and advertising professionals, and other employees across Education Week signed cards stating their desire to be represented by the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild. On Tuesday morning, employees asked EdWeek’s senior leadership to voluntarily recognize their union—a collaborative approach that many other media organizations have taken.
But that evening, EdWeek’s senior leadership informed employees that they had rejected their request for voluntary recognition. Employees will now secure recognition by pursuing an election monitored by the National Labor Relations Board.
“Employees from departments across our organization have come together to say we deserve a seat at the table—a change that can only make Education Week stronger,” said Sarah Schwartz, a staff writer for Education Week. “To do the kind of work that can inspire and empower the education field, we must advocate for ourselves as well. A union will preserve our ability to deliver the high-quality journalism that Education Week readers have relied on for more than 40 years. We’re disappointed that management rejected our request for voluntary recognition, but we’re confident that our strong majority can win an election.”
The NewsGuild-CWA would represent nearly 50 employees of Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit organization that publishes Education Week, a top nationwide source of news, research, and analysis. Many EdWeek employees say their job is the most fulfilling and meaningful of their careers. Some have stayed at the organization for decades, in part because of the strong relationships they have developed with their colleagues and their respect for senior leadership.
But in recent years, the company has lost many valuable and longtime employees, in part due to stagnant salaries and a lack of opportunities for career advancement. These losses have been particularly detrimental toward the company’s goal of having a diverse workforce: Education Week currently has no Black reporters or editors.
“I fear we aren’t effectively retaining our talented employees or are missing out on a wealth of great prospective employees, because some of our wages haven’t kept up with the rising cost of living,” said Hayley Hardison, a social media producer for EdWeek. She noted that the D.C. metro area has among the highest costs of living in the nation.
While EdWeek senior leadership has recently taken steps toward addressing some of these concerns, employees say they want more of a voice and more transparency in decisionmaking.
“I believe in the EdWeek Union because I believe in my coworkers,” Hardison said. “I believe in pay equity, managerial transparency, diversity, inclusion, and our right to a seat at the table. I trust that we can hold fair, effective negotiations with our management as we all share the same underlying goal: to advance EdWeek’s mission of empowering K-12 educators with trusted news and insights. I believe that a union will protect all that I love about EdWeek by ensuring that all whom I love at EdWeek are taken care of.”
A mission statement drafted and signed by employees interested in affiliation with the NewsGuild says: “The EdWeek Union’s goal is to strengthen and preserve the best parts of our company—namely, our supportive and family-friendly culture—which lay the foundation for our ability to produce deep, nuanced, and revelatory journalism. The EdWeek Union is fighting for equitable pay, progressive family leave, fair remote work policies, and the continued commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
For interviews with Education Week staff, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild:
The Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild includes more than 2,500 workers at news outlets, nonprofits, and labor organizations. Other notable units include the Washington Post, Bloomberg Industry Group, AFL-CIO, the Baltimore Sun, and Inside Higher Ed. WBNG is a local of The NewsGuild-CWA, which is a sector of the Communications Workers of America.