Idaho NewsGuild members vote unanimously to ratify first union contract

Two years after unanimously voting to form the Idaho NewsGuild, journalists voted unanimously to ratify their first contract with management of the Idaho Statesman and its corporate owner, McClatchy.

Union members voted 19-0 in favor of a three-year contract. Highlights include:

  • Raises of 9.9% to 27.7% for full-time employees
  • Guaranteed yearly raises
  • $1,000 signing bonuses
  • $48,000 minimum salary for all current full-time journalists
  • Strong protections against outsourcing
  • Just-cause protections
  • Parental leave
  • Improved vacation benefits

The vote comes after a two-year battle to secure a first contract. During that time, workers at the Idaho Statesman lived through a corporate bankruptcy, a hedge fund takeover, and a global pandemic that altered daily life.

During that time, McClatchy denied them benefits granted to non-union employees, fired a highly respected editor who advocated for more resources for the newsroom, and tried – unsuccessfully – to force page view quotas on journalists.

“McClatchy tried to divide us at every turn,” said Michael Lycklama, an Idaho Statesman sports writer, bargaining committee member and Guild steward. “But we didn’t just survive. We emerged stronger each time.”

Under the terms of the new contract, no employee can be disciplined solely for failing to meet page view goals.

Idaho NewsGuild also secured the return of a 40-hour work week – up from 37.5 hours, company-provided cell phones, bonuses for night work, an improved grievance procedure, and health and safety protections. Additionally, McClatchy cannot impose nondisclosure agreements when settling claims of discrimination, sexual harassment or sexual assault.