Journalists of The Kansas City Star won voluntary recognition of their union on Wednesday, 23 days after they announced their organizing campaign. The McClatchy Company, which owns The Star, notified newsroom employees of the decision via a video conference call.
“We have a long history of working collaboratively in this newsroom to support strong local journalism,” said Mike Fannin, president and editor of The Star and Central Region editor for McClatchy.
“Our shared efforts have resulted in vital work that has made the communities we serve better and more accountable. We prize the work of all our colleagues, and today, we are recognizing the Kansas City News Guild, he said. “Together, we can move forward with the mission of elevating our staff, our strategies and our journalism.”
The decision will give “accountability, mission-driven journalists a voice in their own workplace,” Guild members said in a press statement. The organizing campaign at The Star is part of a wave of union organizing throughout the industry.
Members of the union’s organizing committee asked local management for voluntary recognition after an overwhelming majority of eligible staffers signed cards signaling their desire to be represented by the Kansas City News Guild.
The signatures came from every corner of the news operation – from sports and news reporters to photographers and other visual journalists – and included both long-time and recently hired employees.
Organizing Committee members were prepared to file the cards with the National Labor Relations Board to request a vote on unionization, but McClatchy’s decision means an election is no longer necessary. It “will allow the union to set to work building a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the company,” organizers said.
The new unit becomes part of the United Media Guild local, which also represents journalists at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the State Journal Register and Pekin Daily Times, as well as the staff of several nonprofit social justice organizations.
“The Kansas City News Guild will cover more than 40 journalists who strive to keep their community informed and hold government, business and other institutions accountable. The union will make the paper better for readers by fighting for a safe, diverse and vibrant newsroom that will be here for years to come,” they said.