A group of writers who contribute columns to the Daily Hampshire Gazette announced a writers’ strike in solidarity with the Pioneer Valley NewsGuild on Monday.
They will not submit new columns until the owner, Newspapers of New England, agrees to a contract that supports workers’ demands for fair wages, job security and greater respect, they said. The Gazette serves Northampton, Mass. Staffers formed the Pioneer Valley NewsGuild in November 2018.
The columnists on strike are volunteers who receive no compensation for their submissions. They include State Sen. Comerford and State Rep. Sabadosa, as well as community leaders, educators, religious leaders and activists Andrea Ayvazian, Carrie Baker, Joanna Buoniconti, Bill Newman, Joe Gannon, Chelsea Kline, John Paradis, John Sheirer, Razvan Sibii and Sara Weinberger.
“We make the decision to suspend our monthly columns with heavy hearts,” the writers said in a statement. “Many of us have been columnists for many years, and we are grateful to the Daily Hampshire Gazette for the opportunity to write for a newspaper and a community that we love.
“We care deeply about our community and strongly value the role of a free and vital press. However, we are very concerned with the status of current labor negotiations between the hard-working employees at the Gazette and the newspaper’s ownership. The importance of strong community journalism can’t be overstated and the journalists who labor on our behalf deserve a fair contract. We take this stand in full solidarity with the Pioneer Valley NewsGuild, and we extend our full support to their members.”
The columnists will refrain from writing until such time that the Pioneer Valley NewsGuild announces they have reached agreement on a fair contract that includes livable wages and an acceptable work-life balance and that values the careers of its members.
The columnists asked NNE Chairman Aaron Julien for a meeting to discuss how to best end the labor stalemate. Julien said it was not appropriate to discuss negotiations but offered to meet with the columnists after an agreement is reached.
“Thanks to contributing writers, the Daily Hampshire Gazette receives more locally written ideas, commentary, and other opinion pieces than perhaps any other newspapers in New England,” the union said.
The columnists called on all writers who submit guest columns to join in their strike and encouraged readers to let Newspapers of New England know that their employees deserve a fair contract.