Feb. 25, 2019 – The award-winning staff of The Morning Call took a major step Monday toward forming a union, The Morning Call Guild, a unit of The NewsGuild-CWA.
Reporters, photographers, copy editors and other staff of the Allentown, Penn., newsroom asked Tribune Publishing Company to voluntarily recognize the union. They simultaneously filed authorization cards with the National Labor Relations Board signaling their desire to be represented by the Guild.
Morning Call employees said in a press statement that forming a union “will ensure journalists have a voice in the workplace to preserve jobs and advocate for their ability to serve the community.” They are hoping to quickly begin contract negotiations with the company and are prepared to withdraw the petition once recognition is granted.
Morning Call staffers are part of a wave of unionization among print and digital journalists.
Morning Call staffers are part of a wave of unionization among print and digital journalists. They are following in the footsteps of other Tribune staffers who have won union recognition over the last 10 months, including at the Chicago Tribune, Virginian-Pilot, [Maryland] Capital Gazette and the Hartford Courant, which announced a union campaign on Feb. 11 and won voluntary recognition from management on Feb. 15. Employees of BuzzFeed News, the digital-only publication, announced a union organizing campaign with The NewsGuild on Feb. 12 and expect to win voluntary recognition.
Morning Call employees have been concerned about stagnant wages, staff cuts and increasing workloads since Tribune Publishing acquired the newspaper in 2000, the press statement says. A recent round of buyouts has left the newsroom with even fewer journalists to cover a large and diverse area.
“It’s important for employees who give so much of themselves to be given some semblance of security in return, to be fairly compensated, to be treated respectfully and, beyond all else, valued for how much we care about our paper, our community and our readers,” said senior reporter John Moser. “We need representation to make sure we are.”
Pamela Lehman, who has been a reporter at The Morning Call for 16 years, said she was hopeful union representation would “protect the great parts of the job and improve other things like health insurance and consistent raises.”
Reporter Michelle Merlin said, “We want a voice when decisions are made about our newsroom.”
NewsGuild President Bernie Lunzer said, “The employees of The Morning Call are fighting for the future of journalism. We are happy to welcome them to The NewsGuild family.”