Newsletter: Journalists WIN 25th strike of 2024!

Last week, our members at the Palm Springs Desert Sun started an open-ended strike. Two days later, that strike ended with one of the best new contracts journalists have won in Gannett in the last several years.

Members are seeing raises of 16.5% on average, with one member receiving a 48% raise. Across the newsroom, members are slowly moving up to be more in line with the cost of living in the Coachella Valley. They won annual raises during the life of the contract, language that protects against layoffs from artificial intelligence, requirements for managers to attend DEI conferences, held onto the 401(k) match, and much more!

The Desert Sun strike was the 25th strike we’ve had so far this year. And it’s barely even March.

This was also the seventh contract won by new bargaining units in 2024 and our members won 25 first contracts last year.

Congratulations to our members at the Desert Sun and the Media Guild of the West for helping our members win big!

The Marshall Project staffers are the latest newsroom to launch a union campaign, with roughly 50 workers demanding representation across business and editorial parts of the award-winning nonprofit news organization. They are joining the NewsGuild of New York.

“Working collectively is ingrained in the culture here at The Marshall Project, so a union makes perfect sense for us as a growing staff,” said Katie Park, developer and data journalist. “It’s a way to keep fostering this supportive work environment and make sure everyone’s voice is heard as our organization evolves.”

The Marshall Project is the latest in a wave of nonprofit news organizations that have joined our great union, including the Texas Tribune, ProPublica and the Markup. The organization itself is named for Thurgood Marshall, who championed organized labor throughout his career as a lawyer and jurist.

Yesterday, workers at the Houston Landing won voluntary recognition, becoming officially the SIXTH newsroom union in Texas. After a swift organizing campaign that resulted in unanimous support from all eligible reporters, photographers and graphic designers on Thursday announced that they received voluntary recognition from management.

“I’m proud of my colleagues for standing up and fighting for a place at the table for staff,” said Eileen Grench, public safety reporter. “Now l’m looking forward to bargaining for a fair, equitable workplace.”

Workers at the San Antonio Express-News are now the latest Texas group to go union, with an election expected soon.

Workers at High Country News (aka the GOAT union) won an election, with 80% of workers voting yes. Staffers at the nonprofit community news magazine are joining the Denver Newspaper Guild.

“I’m so excited to see what HCN will become when staff have a real and meaningful say in our workplace. The High Country News Union will be a body to receive and digest all our individual needs and reflect our shared goal of making HCN a better, healthier work environment,” said HCN’s Features Director McKenna Stayner when they launched their campaign.

Our family at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has been on strike for more than 500 days. “Conan the Librarian” aka Stephen Karlinchak mused about where the strike is now after such a long time with the employer breaking federal law.  

“When my union made the decision to walk out, I had to decide how brave I wanted to be,” Stephen wrote. “I could sit quietly at my keyboard, going about my work, or I could be brave and join my co-workers on the picket line.”

“I took a deep breath, exhaled, crossed my fingers and asked for a picket sign.”

Since the strike started he’s attended a ton of actions and also played a lot of Scrabble.

“I have picketed my employer and written thank-you notes to donors to our strike relief fund. I helped to compile the daily strike newsletter. I have taken notes at our daily check-in meetings as well as occasionally presiding at them. I have attended labor rallies and educational events. I have spoken to an adult education program about our strike. I have served on a national planning committee for a union strike school. I serve on a committee that provides financial assistance to strikers in need.”

Join me today and stand with Stephen and all our other strikers by donating to their fund.

I have no doubt we will win the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette strike. We can and will outlast management. We have an ethical duty to hold power to account, including our employers. Management has broken the law repeatedly and must face consequences for their actions.

I was deeply disturbed to see the Post-Gazette, in coordination with ProPublica, win a George Polk award. Shame on the Polk Awards and shame on ProPublica management for supporting an organization that has broken federal law, stripped workers of health care, and actively attacked working journalists. Again, ethical journalists hold power to account, not support a scab institution actively harming media workers.

The Post-Gazette is also using artificial intelligence to try and replace the labor lost from strikers. The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh filed a grievance over management’s decision to use an AI-generated illustration last month. Management denied the grievance and the local is still pursuing the issue.

“AI cannot replace the skill and talent of a human being,” said Jen Kundrach, a PG page designer and illustrator on strike. “But that won’t stop greedy business owners from attempting to use it to replace skilled artists.”

Stand with our strikers.

The AFL-CIO Sports Council released a statement standing with Sports Illustrated staff, who face potential layoffs because of corporate greed. The unions, which represent players in football, soccer, basketball, hockey and more, said they stand with our unionized family at Sports Illustrated.

“We were shocked to see that these journalists—who have worked tirelessly to uphold the integrity and standards at Sports Illustrated—were laid off as the result of a licensing dispute between The Arena Group, which publishes SI, and Authentic Brands Group, its owner,” they wrote.

“If management replaces the brand’s full-time unionized workforce, Sports Illustrated will no longer be Sports Illustrated. Our unions will always call out any attempt by management to treat their workers unfairly and demand that these union-busting tactics at one of America’s most important journalistic institutions stop now.”

“From the playing surface to the press box: Sports jobs are union jobs.”

Sports Illustrated workers launched a campaign called We are SI, to highlight how the workers make Sports Illustrated the valuable and reputable publication it is today.

“A version of Sports Illustrated produced without the SI Union would not be Sports Illustrated, but a sham and an insult to our publication’s storied history,” workers said in a statement.

Our family at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reached a tentative agreement for a successor contract. The new 3-year agreement includes wage increases, new pay equity language that points to new Canadian laws, and the establishment of a new national joint temporary committee focused on the issues faced by temporary and precarious workers.

“The CBC could not operate without the care, expertise and dedication of temporary employees, so it was very important to the bargaining team to make gains for this precariously employed group,” said Kat McMorrow, a union leader and network assignment producer based in Toronto.

The agreement also ensures Canadian Media Guild members have a voice on artificial intelligence in their work, creating a new working group to address issues quickly. From March 19-25, members will vote on the agreement agreement.

The New York Times Guild filed a grievance over harassment and discrimination of members. Times management violated the contract when it harassed and discriminated against members during its investigation into an alleged leak of newsroom information about “The Daily” to the Intercept.

Multiple members were also asked to hand over their personal communications, on their personal devices and digital accounts, with other employees about shared workplace concerns — conversations that had nothing to do with the internal materials specific to “The Daily” that are the stated focus of this inquiry.

“We cannot allow the company to target our members, and this grievance is a first step toward protecting them,” said Bill Baker, Times Guild unit chair. “This investigation has been incredibly damaging, creating an environment where no one feels safe to raise internal concerns, even through the designated channels for doing so. For us as a union, we can’t let that stand.”

New year, new strategies for building worker power! The Strike School workshops were so well-liked, we’ve decided to offer them in a Strike School Workshop Series from January to April 2024. Check out the schedule and sign up for as many sessions as you like!

“Bargaining Strategy During a Strike” Tuesday, March 12, 2024

“Difficult Strike Conversations” Tuesday, March 19, 2024

“Becoming Strike-Ready as a Guild” Tuesday, April 4, 2024

We’re hiring a communications coordinator to work with The NewsGuild-CWA and the Washington-Baltimore News Guild out of D.C. We’re starting interviews soon, so if you’re interested, apply soon!Are you going to Labor Notes? Let us know! While registration is now closed, we expect a large group of NewsGuild-CWA members and want to get you a t-shirt. Let us know what size you want.

In solidarity,