Feb. 28, 2018 – The journalists of the Casper Star-Tribune made history on Feb. 27, voting for a union for the first time in paper’s 127-year history and becoming the first NewsGuild unit in Wyoming.
“Our goal is to protect and strengthen the future of the Star-Tribune, as well as Casper and Wyoming’s news, for many years to come,” the Organizing Committee said in a statement posted online.
The vote is part of an inspiring national trend, said NewsGuild-CWA President Bernie Lunzer. Last month, the newsroom employees of the Los Angeles Times voted overwhelmingly to form a NewsGuild local; earlier this month, employees of Mic became the latest online publication to sign on to a union organizing effort, and last summer, workers at Raw Story and Real News Network joined the Guild.
“Journalists are taking a stand across the country,” Lunzer said. “We are fighting for quality journalism and a voice in our future.
“The media landscape is changing,” he said. “Corporate owners are slashing staff and cutting resources as ad revenue shifts to Google and Facebook. But in this time of turmoil, quality journalism at the national and local level is more important than ever.”
When the Organizing Committee announced plans to form a NewsGuild unit, it was clear that it blames Lee Enterprises, the media corporation that owns the Casper Star-Tribune, not local management, for the biggest problems confronting the paper. The newsroom staff holds the Star-Tribune’s local leadership in high esteem, the committee said.
“But our local leadership does not control how many journalists we have available for news gathering or our budget covering the city and state,” the committee wrote.
“We appreciate some of the benefits of being part of a large media corporation,” the committee said. “However, Lee Enterprises’ obligations to its shareholders often clash with the interests of our readers in Casper and Wyoming, who rely on the Star-Tribune for vital news and information.
“Organizing the newsroom is our way – as journalists dedicated to the communities we cover – to strengthen the local control over Wyoming’s largest media organization,” the committee wrote.
Nine of the 11 voters cast ballots in favor of forming the union and one voted against. The newsroom employees of the Casper Star-Tribune will become the ninth unit of the Denver Newspaper Guild-CWA, Local 37074.
After the National Labor Relations Board certifies the results, contract negotiations with Lee Enterprises will begin.