Seeking transparency, adequate staffing and more investment, journalists at Longview Daily News announce intent to unionize

Update: The journalists of the Longview Daily News in Washington state voted unanimously to form the Longview NewsGuild on May 14.

The journalists of the Longview Daily News in Washington state announced their intent to unionize on Thursday, saying a majority of staffers have signed cards authorizing representation by the Pacific Northwest local of The NewsGuild-CWA.

The employees of the Longview NewsGuild have asked Lee Enterprises, the paper’s parent company, to voluntarily recognize the union.

The Longview Daily News has served Cowlitz County and surrounding communities for nearly 100 years. In 1981, the paper was recognized with the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting for its coverage of the Mt. St. Helens eruption.

“This paper has a long history of bringing the community critical information,” said Marissa Heffernan, a reporter at the paper. “We want to continue to do that for decades to come, but we need more local control and better support to serve this community the way it deserves. Unionizing will let us accomplish those goals,” she said.

Staffers say they cannot afford to buy homes, start or support families or settle down in the area with their current wages and workload. “Our journalists don’t want to leave, but we cannot afford to stay,” workers said in a tweet announcing their union drive.

They are calling for improved transparency, new investment in equipment, adequate staffing levels and a consistent pay scale.

“I’m deeply concerned for the future of The Daily News and how its absence could negatively impact the communities we serve,” said Courtney Talak, the only staff photojournalist. “Forming a union will allow us to advocate for necessary resources and keep roots in the Pacific Northwest.”

Currently, there is no clear plan of growth, or even survival, workers said. Without the Daily News, Longview, Kelso and the scores of surrounding towns would be left without coverage of city council meetings, community sports and the region’s triumphs and losses.

“However, our newsroom lacks support and resources, causing high turnover and burnt-out employees. We face instability, with no voice in the changes that have rocked staff in recent years, and even in recent weeks,” they said.

“We at The Daily News take great pride in serving these cities. Our workers want nothing more than to continue to bring you the stories and news you care about each day,” workers said.

Follow them on Twitter @longviewguild.