Fort Worth NewsGuild wins voluntary union recognition

Nov. 2, 2020 – The journalists of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram won voluntary recognition of their union on Monday, becoming the third McClatchy publication to do so this year.

Steve Coffman, president and editor of the Star-Telegram, posted a tweet thread announcing the decision. “The entire @startelegram team will move forward together, honoring our journalists’ request to be recognized as the @FortWorthGuild,” he wrote three weeks after organizers announced they were forming a union.

Workers were thrilled. “Unionizing for our newsroom has always been about preserving the strong journalism that we – and our editors – work hard to bring the DFW community every day,” said Kaley Johnson. “I’m excited that we’re working together now more than ever on that mission!”

Nichole Manna wrote, “We started this effort out of love and only love, to protect and strengthen. Our future has always been bright, but now it’s blinding.”

The Star-Telegram, along with those across the nation, have struggled against declining revenue. Newsroom employment at newspapers in the U.S. dropped by 51 percent between 2008 and 2019, according to Pew Research.

The journalists announced their unionization effort soon after McClatchy finalized its sale to Chatham Asset Management, a New Jersey-based hedge fund. The sale was valued at $312 million and came six months after McClatchy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy following more than a decade of layoffs and losses. Through the transaction, the publicly-traded McClatchy has emerged as a private company.

Haley Samsel noted that the Star-Telegram had become the second unionized newsroom in Texas, following the overwhelming vote to unionize by employees of the Dallas Morning News on Oct. 16. “So proud of all the colleagues who made this possible, and newsroom leadership for recognizing that this was necessary,” Samsel said.

Follow the For Worth NewsGuild on Twitter @FortWorthGuild.