The journalists of the Lawrence Journal-World voted in favor of forming a union in balloting that was counted Monday via Zoom by the National Labor Relations Board.
“We are excited about the results of the vote, and we’re looking forward to fair and cordial negotiations with management,” said Mackenzie Clark, a public safety reporter at the Douglas County, Kan., paper.
“Most of all, we are pleased that we will have a seat at the table when the company is weighing important decisions that will impact the newspaper and, by extension, this community,” she said.
The journalists formed the Lawrence Journalism Workers Guild to fight for the future of local news, organizers said. Over the last decade, dwindling advertising and subscription revenues resulted in numerous layoffs and cutbacks to the newspaper’s coverage. The 2016 sale of the paper to Ogden Newspapers, which is based in West Virginia, has resulted in more cuts, hampering their efforts to inform the community, they said.
“Despite having a billionaire owner, the company’s actions have not demonstrated a true commitment to quality journalism or adequate support of the people who produce it,” organizers wrote.
“We are organizing to rededicate this newspaper to the words in its mission statement, including ‘accurate and fair news reporting,’ ‘safeguarding the rights of all citizens regardless of race, creed or economic stature,’ and ‘sympathy and understanding for all who are disadvantaged or oppressed.’
“We are a small staff, but we are overwhelmingly united in these goals,” they said.
They will join the United Media Guild, Local 36047 of The NewsGuild-CWA, which also represents workers at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Peoria Journal Star, Pekin Daily Times, State Journal-Register, Rockford Register Star, Freeport Journal Standard, Southern Illinoisan and Springfield News-Leader.
Follow them on Twitter @ljw_guild.