Center for Public Integrity Union ratifies historic first contract

March 9, 2020 – The Center for Public Integrity Union voted unanimously on March 6 to ratify a historic first contract with management of CPI, one of the country’s oldest nonprofit newsrooms.

“There’s lots to love” in the contract, the union tweeted before listing some of the staff’s favorites:

  • Implementation of the Mansfield Rule, which mandates that all positions covered by the contract will remain open until at least 30 percent of applicants are women and 30 percent are people of color. This appears to be a first within the industry.
  • Representation at regular meetings of the organization’s board of directors. “People, we got board representation!” the union declared.
  • An immediate raise of 2.5 percent and salary minimums for all positions. “Our talented entry-level fellows won’t be paid less than $40,000 a year and reporters with at least five years of industry experience — the largest share of covered employees covered — will earn at least $80,000,” the union wrote.
  • Twelve weeks of fully paid family leave for all new parents — double the amount to which staff were previously entitled.
  • Prior notice of layoffs and guaranteed severance commensurate with service time.
  • Protections for employees hired through visas and other term-limited work authorizations.
  • A progressive disciplinary procedure, including a requirement that management must have “just cause” to terminate employees.

The union commended Public Integrity’s leadership — particularly CEO Susan Smith-Richardson — for engaging constructively and in good faith. “We look forward to working with them throughout the life of this contract to make our news organization the best it can be,” they said.

To their fellow NewsGuild members still fighting for their first contract, they wrote, “We will continue to stand with you in solidarity. To those already-organized shops, thank you for showing us the value of unionization. And to those yet unorganized media workers: unionize.”

“This contract is proof that when leadership and staff share a common set of values unionization and collective bargaining can create a stronger, fairer and more productive workplace,” said Joe Yerardi, a data reporter and member of the union’s bargaining committee.

The agreement is an “affirmation of fairness, inclusivity and transparency, the same values the organization promotes in its investigative reporting,” a statement posted on CPI’s website said.

Calling the contract “a milestone,” CEO Smith Richardson said, “As the wave of labor organizing in our field has shown, unions can be a vital partner in the work of reinventing how news organizations serve communities and build sustainability.”

Close to 3,000 new members joined the NewsGuild-CWA in 2018 and 2019, and the union is in the midst of multiple organizing campaigns. The Center for Public Integrity staff – including both newsroom and business-side employees – organized with the Washington-Baltimore Local 32035 of The News Guild-CWA in November 2018.