Journalists at The State moved to form South Carolina’s largest news union, The State News Guild, on Wednesday.
“Our mission is to foster an environment in which The State’s journalists can continue producing works of truth, accountability, culture and compassion without constant worry of professional insecurity,” organizers said in a Mission Statement. “We will fight for a fair deal while striving for a positive relationship with management. Organizing can be adversarial, but it must always be based on respect and understanding. We believe in The State and its mission, and we want it to succeed.”
A majority of reporters, photographers and newsroom producers at the newspaper in South Carolina’s capital city have signed cards expressing a desire to be represented by The NewsGuild’s Washington-Baltimore Local 32035 and requested immediate, voluntary recognition from management and from McClatchy, the paper’s parent company. McClatchy, which emerged from bankruptcy in September 2020 as a privately-held company owned by Chatham Asset Management, has voluntarily recognized unions at other newsrooms, including the Island Packet in Hilton Head, SC.
In recent years, the news industry has experienced sharp drops in advertising revenue and newsroom staffing, and those trends have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Last summer, The State shut down its print operation in Columbia and moved out of its longtime home on Shop Road. Nationwide, the number of working newspaper reporters has been cut in half in the past decade, according to Pew Research.
“Journalists at The State do not want to work under the threat of layoffs or cutbacks,” organizers said in a press statement. “We seek to protect our jobs, our paychecks and benefits as well as promote pay equity and diversity in our newsroom. We want to protect our ability to deliver the news to South Carolinians as The State has done since 1891.
“We look forward to charting the future for the capital city’s newspaper with our management colleagues so that this newsroom can continue.”
Organizers urged supporters to subscribe to The State and to let them know what the paper and local news means to you at firstname.lastname@example.org.