April 6, 2018 – Workers at the Missoula Independent voted unanimously in favor of joining The NewsGuild-CWA on April 6. They will be represented by Pacific Northwest NewsGuild local.
“The Missoula News Guild is excited to sit down with management and hopeful that we can reach a mutually beneficial collective bargaining agreement with Lee Enterprises,” the organizing committee wrote in a statement. “The unanimity of the vote is proof of how strongly the paper’s staff feels about securing a viable future for the Independent in Missoula.
“We have been concerned by Lee Enterprises’ recent actions regarding the recently unionized Casper Star-Tribune, specifically the late-night telephone layoff of a well-regarded, award-winning editor – for financial reasons, according to Lee – and the subsequent suspension of one of the Casper NewsGuild organizers on the eve of our vote,” they wrote. Star-Tribune staffers had recently been told the paper was not targeted for cuts.
“The Missoula News Guild would like to profoundly thank the many supporters from Missoula and around the state of Montana and the country who reached out over the past few weeks, especially the representatives of other media union locals.
“Most of all, the support of our Missoula readers and advertisers has sustained our motivation to make the paper as strong as we can. Thank you for believing in us, the employees who work every day to keep the Independent worthy of your trust. Your continued, vocal support will be more important than ever as we begin working towards our first contract.”
NewsGuild President Bernie Lunzer welcomed the Guild’s newest members and pointed to a trend. “Journalists around the country are joining together to fight for their jobs and for the future of journalism,” he said. “We’re thrilled to have the talented employees of the Missoula Independent join our ranks.”
The Independent has published since 1991 and is the only alternative weekly newspaper in Montana. “The publication serves a vibrant, engaged audience with coverage of local news, arts and culture. The staff takes pride in the Indy’s vital role in the western Montana media landscape, particularly its strong print product during a difficult time for weeklies in much larger markets,” the Organizing Committee said in a statement announcing the move.