At a moment of tremendous flux in journalism, unions are trending in newsrooms. In conjunction with the publication of our book New Media Unions: Organizing Digital Journalists, we have produced a timeline of the ongoing movement to unionize journalism, particularly in the United States.
While unions have a long history in print journalism, our timeline begins with Gawker’s unionization in June 2015, which kicked off a wave of labour organizing at dozens of digital outlets, magazines, and newspapers. Since 2015, thousands of media workers have joined the Writers Guild of America, East, branches of The NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America), and the Canadian Media Guild (CWA Canada). Journalists are organizing to improve working conditions in a tumultuous sector of the media economy.
Through collective bargaining, they have won better pay, job security, and benefits, making media careers more sustainable. But the union drives have also had broader aims: to expand racial and gender diversity in newsrooms, to support editorial independence, to protect local journalism, and to give workers a stronger voice in their newsrooms.
This timeline documents the outlets that have successfully unionized, by certification date. Please contact us if you have a correction or a new entry to suggest.
The first edition of this timeline, published in 2017, can be found here.
Kicking off a wave of digital media unionization, Gawker Media staff vote 75 percent in favour of unionizing with the Writers Guild of America, East. A key goal was formalizing workplace standards. Management welcomed the union drive when it was announced in April 2015. In a highly public campaign, staff debated on the Gawker site itself how they were voting. The first contract was ratified (88-2) on March 1, 2016.
Editorial staff at the Guardian US vote 45-0 to unionize with the NewsGuild of New York (Communication Workers of America). In a public statement announcing their union, journalists highlighted management’s constructive response to their desire for collective representation and recognized “the support shown by our unionized editorial colleagues in the UK and Australia, where the Guardian has a strong history of working in partnership with its unions.”
Editorial staff at Salon unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East when they receive voluntary recognition from Salon Media. The site’s 26 staff unanimously decided to unionize and announced their intent to do so in July. Their “why we’re organizing” letter cites Gawker’s campaign as partial inspiration and states that unionizing is a “positive and public way” to enact the progressive values Salon writers champion in their work. The union ratified its first collective agreement in November 2018.
Vice US writers receive voluntary recognition to unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East. On September 21, 2017, more than 400 Vice content creators and post-production staff vote to unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East and the Motion Picture Editors Guild.
Editorial staff at ThinkProgress unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East. The union ratified two collective bargaining agreements with parent organization, the Center for American Progress (CAP), before CAP shut the site down in September 2019. The union organized to prevent CAP from continuing to publish ThinkProgress with non-union workers and pushed CAP to archive the site instead.
After management refused to voluntarily recognize their union, Al Jazeera America (AJAM) digital staff vote 32-5 in a National Labor Relations Board election to be represented by the NewsGuild of New York (Communication Workers of America). Staff organized to address management inconsistencies, pay discrepancies, and lack of transparency, among other issues. AJAM was shut down in April 2016 before a contract could be negotiated.
262 editorial staff at the HuffPost unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East. Management voluntarily recognized the union, which staff requested on December 1, 2015. HuffPost staff were motivated to organize by a range of issues, including compensation, transparency, diversity, editorial freedom, and fair disciplinary procedures. The union ratified its first contract on January 30, 2017.
After a months-long union drive that included anti-union pushback from management, staff at Vice Canada vote overwhelmingly to unionize with the Canadian Media Guild (CWA Canada), citing low pay, lack of transparency, and editorial integrity as motivation.
In a National Labor Relations Board election, editorial staff at legal news site Law360 vote 109-9 to unionize with the NewsGuild of New York (Communication Workers of America). Amid drawn-out contract negotiations, members voted to strike on November 15, 2018. On December 17, 2018, the union unanimously ratified its first contract, which removed the non-compete agreement that triggered the union drive, protected editorial integrity, and introduced successor language ensuring that the collective agreement would be honoured if Law360 is sold to a new owner.
Seven staff of socialist publication Jacobin vote unanimously to join the NewsGuild of New York (Communication Workers of America). Management welcomed the union. In a statement, the union wrote: “We’re confident that, thanks to our initial efforts, future Jacobin staffers will see the principles of democracy, solidarity, and economic security embodied in their workplace.” On January 24, 2018, they ratified their first contract, which included raises, medical insurance, parental leave, and increased time off.
The entire editorial staff of The Root—whose mission is to “champion the voice of marginalized African Americans”—announce they are unionizing with the Writers Guild of America, East and request voluntary recognition from Univision. Soon after, Univision announced that The Root and Fusion would merge into Gizmodo Media Group (GMG) and in January 2017, The Root editorial and production staff joined the GMG existing bargaining unit and worked under its union contract. The Root is currently owned by the G/O Media Group.
A supermajority of 70 editorial employees at the progressive news site Fusion vote to unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East. Management of the then Univision-owned company refused to voluntarily recognize the union and anti-union behaviour was reported. Following ownership changes, the Fusion union members joined the bargaining unit of the Gizmodo Media Group and Fusion was rebranded as Splinter, which shuttered in 2019.
The MTV News union is voluntarily recognized 11 days after reporters, producers, and social media workers announced they were unionizing with the Writers Guild of America, East. A majority of staff had signed cards. Lack of benefits, an unclear editorial chain of command, insufficient legal protections, and reliance on permalancers were some of the issues that motivated the drive.
Editorial workers at Thrillist vote 56-3 to unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East. Workers faced an aggressive anti-union campaign after announcing their intent to unionize on February 15, when more than 85 percent of editorial workers signed union cards. Thrillist founder and CEO, Ben Lerer, refused voluntary recognition, so workers mobilized an effective counter-publicity campaign online. A year after being certified, the union ratified its first contract, but not without holding a walkout and a strike vote—the first in digital media.
The 32-person newsroom of The Intercept joins the Writers Guild of America, East as parent company First Look Media voluntarily recognizes the union following a card check. In addition to citing the need to protect journalists from attack under the Trump Administration, the union declared in a public statement: “While maintaining the flexibility that helps us thrive, we seek to formalize fair standards and protections to help us produce our strongest work in the days ahead.”
The eight-member staff of progressive publication The American Prospect unionize with the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America). Management voluntarily recognized the union after members delivered a letter announcing unionization, citing Donald Trump’s presidency as one motivating factor.
Editorial staff at Raw Story win voluntary recognition, unionizing with the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America). Writers released a statement noting that unionizing is in line with the progressive principles they uphold in their work. A senior editor stated, “We chose the NewsGuild for its historic role in democratizing newsrooms across the U.S. and its 80 years of commitment to the rights of writers, editors and other news workers.”
Staff at The Real News Network win voluntary union recognition about a week after requesting recognition from management, joining the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America). Eighteen months later, in September 2019, the unit signed its first collective agreement.
After facing a drawn-out anti-union campaign, workers at non-profit oral history outlet StoryCorps vote to unionize with the Communication Workers of America Local 1180. Workers requested that management voluntarily recognize the union in May 2017, motivated in part to achieve higher wages and more transparency in decision-making around hiring, firing, and grievances. The union ratified its first contract in October 2019.
In a National Labor Relations Board election, staff at DNAinfo and Gothamist vote 25-2 to join the Writers Guild of America, East after management refused to voluntarily recognize their union. On November 2, 2017, billionaire owner Joe Ricketts shuttered the sites, leaving 116 jobless. Days later, 300 people gathered to support the laid-off journalists at a protest in New York City.
Editorial staff at Vox announce they are unionizing with the Writers Guild of America, East. Management took almost two months to recognize the union, after trying to dissuade workers and challenging bargaining unit membership. In June 2019, hundreds of workers walked out of Vox’s New York office to pressure management to settle a favourable contract.
Employees of The Los Angeles Times vote 248-44 to unionize with the NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America). The 475-member bargaining unit covers reporters, copyeditors, photographers, and librarians, among other positions. Citing stagnant salaries, pay disparities, and corroding benefits, journalists’ announcement of their intention to organize in October 2017 prompted strong anti-union reaction from management. About five months after the vote, the paper’s then-owner, Tronc, sold it to L.A. billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong. A collective agreement was reached on October 16, 2019, after 15 months of negotiations.
Staff at Slate vote 45-7 to unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East. Staff’s request for voluntary recognition in March 2017 was denied by Slate Group Chairman Jacob Weisberg, who, in a memo, stated that a union means “bureaucracy and procedure” and is “just not Slate-y.” First contract negotiations were also fraught. Eight months into negotiations, the union voted 98% to strike to pressure management on unresolved issues, particularly the inclusion of a right-to-work clause, making union dues optional. In January 2019, the union ratified its first collective agreement.
Mic’s editorial union with the NewsGuild of New York (Communication Workers of America) wins voluntary recognition three weeks after the drive was announced. Pay disparities and lack of diversity were key issues. In their campaign, organizers strategically appealed to Mic’s editorial commitment to social and economic justice. On November 29, 2018, Mic laid off nearly all of its staff and sold the company to Bustle Digital Group, a move widely seen as union-busting.
Ten Missoula Independent employees vote unanimously to unionize with the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild (Communication Workers of America). The Montana weekly had been purchased by Lee Enterprises in April 2017. Subsequent uncertainty surrounding the publication’s fate, including its editorial independence and newsroom complement, prompted the drive. After staff unionized, Lee presented an ultimatum: shut down or cut two-thirds of jobs. Before a contract was negotiated, Lee abruptly shuttered the Independent on September 11, 2019.
Staff at The Onion Inc. (The Onion, The A.V. Club, ClickHole, The Takeout, Onion Labs, and Onion Inc.’s art, video, and marketing departments) unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East. In their letter to Onion and Univision management (titled “Onion Inc.’s Groveling, Ungrateful Staffers Unionize”), workers cite having a say in decisions, maintaining editorial independence, ensuring fair pay, hiring practices, and severance, as reasons to unionize. In February 2020, ClickHole was sold by then owner G/O Media to Cards Against Humanity, which promised the five staffers editorial freedom and majority ownership of the site.
Editorial workers at The New Republic unionize with the NewsGuild of New York (Communication Workers of America) after being voluntarily recognized by management one week after requesting union recognition. On December 13, 2019, the union unanimously ratified its first contract, which contains groundbreaking provisions on sexual harassment and newsroom diversity.
Marking the publication’s first newsroom union since its founding in 1871, the Chicago Tribune union, part of the NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America), is recognized by management. Staff requested recognition on April 24, 2018, after about 85% of potential bargaining-unit members signed cards. The drive followed corporate restructuring and layoffs. Compensation, advancement, journalistic mission, workforce diversity, and voice in the newsroom were among the issues that journalists wanted to address through collective bargaining.
The entire staff at Talking Points Memo sign a letter announcing they are unionizing with the Writers Guild of America, East, and the site’s publisher and editor immediately recognize the union. “Unions are becoming standard across online publications, particularly progressive ones,” wrote TPM staff in their announcement, “and it’s important to us to stand in solidarity with that movement.”
Staff at The Dodo, a Group Nine subsidiary, vote 35-4 to unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East. They organized to improve editorial standards, diversity, transparency, compensation, and workloads. The organizing committee announced the union drive on April 30, 2018, writing: “By organizing, we will codify a set of values that preserve The Dodo’s workplace as an open, progressive, and collaborative environment.” On December 18, 2018, members voted unanimously to ratify their first contract.
Twelve newsroom workers at the Southern Illinoisan newspaper vote unanimously to unionize. They join the United Media Guild (Communication Workers of America). Workers began their organizing drive in January, after owner Lee Enterprises announced a mass layoff of 18 percent of the newspaper’s workforce, including three newsroom workers. Workers announced they were unionizing to, among other reasons, protect journalists’ ability to cover their communities in the face of cutbacks and corporate financial pressure.
In a National Labor Relations Board election, journalists, photographers, and digital producers at The Florida Times-Union vote 18-9 in favour of unionizing with the NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America). When newsroom staff at the GateHouse Media-owned publication announced their campaign one month earlier, they highlighted severe job cuts, stagnant wages, and collective voice in the newsroom as key issues.
Condé Nast recognizes The New Yorker union following a card check, six weeks after the union drive was announced. Represented by the NewsGuild of New York (Communication Workers of America), the 110-member bargaining unit includes copy editors, fact-checkers, editorial assistants, video producers, social media strategists, web producers, and designers. Employees successfully pushed to include workers subcontracted by a third-party staffing company in the bargaining unit.
The Fast Company union of editorial and photo staff, who joined the Writers Guild of America, East, is voluntarily recognized by management. On June 7, 2019, the 32-member bargaining unit unanimously ratified its first contract. Gains include a minimum salary of $50,000 (some members received a 26% raise), severance terms, a provision to convert permalancers to full-time, and recruitment protocols to improve newsroom diversity.
Editorial staff at Rewire.News win voluntary recognition a week after requesting that management recognize their intent to unionize with the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America). The day before filing for unionization, four employees were laid off. In July 2019, the union released a statement noting that since announcing unionization, Rewire.News laid off nine union-eligible staff, including three members of the bargaining team.
Journalists at The Virginian-Pilot and the Daily Press unionize, joining the Tidewater Media Guild, a unit of the NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America). Earlier in the month, the union had filed for a National Labor Relations Board election after parent company, Tronc, refused to recognize the union, even though over 83 percent of newsroom workers signed union cards. Ten days later, Tronc agreed. The Tidewater Media Guild also represents journalists at The Virginia Gazette and Tidewater Review.
Workers at the Omaha World-Herald, including reporters, copy editors, and photographers, vote 71-5 to unionize with The NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America). Staff aim to ensure journalistic quality and preserve a local voice at the paper through unionizing, and address raises and layoffs amid downsizing by owner BH Media Group.
Journalists at Maryland’s Capital Gazette, Carroll County Times, and The Baltimore Sun Media Group win voluntary recognition. The Tribune-owned community newsrooms form one bargaining unit, the Chesapeake News Guild, which is part of the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America). Stagnant wages, job insecurity, increased workloads, and shrinking staff were key issues. Employees also presented the union bid as a fight to protect local journalism from the effects of “decisions made by distant corporate owners on behalf of shareholders.”
Workers at the Daily Hampshire Gazette and Valley Advocate in Northampton, Massachusetts vote 40-29 to unionize, forming the Pioneer Valley NewsGuild, a unit of the NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America), after management rejected a request for voluntary recognition in November. The “wall-to-wall” union’s 70-plus members work in all departments: editorial, advertising, press room, distribution, circulation, custodial, and accounting.
Joining the NewsGuild of New York (Communication Workers of America), the Ziff Davis Creators Guild, comprised of editorial staff at PC Magazine, Mashable, Geek.com, and AskMen, win voluntary recognition from management. Workers cite layoffs, stagnant wage growth, a lack of job security, and abrupt management strategy changes as motivating unionization.
Two weeks after requesting union recognition, editorial staff at Refinery29 unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East. In a statement, the organizing committee said they “believe that unionizing is the best way, and the feminist answer, to address our workplace issues.” After being acquired by Vice Media Group, in December 2019, Refinery29 staff agreed to be represented by the Vice Union collective agreement.
180 full- and part-time editorial workers of New York Media secure union representation by the NewsGuild of New York (Communication Workers of America) after a card check. Staff had requested recognition in December 2018 and negotiated with management on the scope of the bargaining unit. New York Media was acquired by Vox Media in September 2019.
Media workers at CBSN, the live-stream CBS News channel, win voluntary recognition after a majority of the 55-member unit of writers, producers, and graphic artists signed cards to be represented by the Writers Guild of America, East. In unionizing, the live-stream staff joined their broadcast coworkers at CBS News who have been represented by the WGAE for decades: “We organized to ensure that everyone who walks into our newsroom is treated equally,” stated the CBSN organizers.
Four days after receiving the request, management at Tribune Publishing voluntarily recognizes the Hartford Courant Guild, a unit of the NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America), as the collective representative of approximately 60 newsroom employees. Over 75% of eligible members of the bargaining unit had signed union cards. Founded in 1764, the Hartford Courant is among the oldest newspapers in the United States.
Editorial employees of Allentown, Pennsylvania newspaper The Morning Call vote 31-12 to unionize with the NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America). Tribune Publishing management rejected the 47-member bargaining unit’s request for voluntary recognition, despite having granted it at other outlets it owns. Organizers cited staff layoffs and buyouts, stagnant wages, intensifying working loads, and lack of voice in the newsroom as concerns that had been growing since Tribune acquired the paper in 2000.
The Canadian Industrial Relations Board certifies the Canadian Media Guild (CWA Canada) to represent BuzzFeed Canada’s six-member staff. In a statement, the journalists identified transparency, internal communication, equity, severance, and contract work as key concerns, and they expressed solidarity with their US BuzzFeed colleagues who were in a prolonged fight to have their union recognized.
Future union, which includes over 70 editorial, video, photo, and social media staff, wins voluntary recognition to unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East. The union covers 11 verticals: GamesRadar+, Guitar Player, Guitar World, Laptop Mag, Live Science, Newsarama, PC Gamer, Space.com, TechRadar, Tom’s Guide, and Tom’s Hardware. Fair compensation, editorial standards, transparency, and severance motivated the union drive.
Representing the first podcasting company to organize, the Gimlet Media union, which joined the Writers Guild of America, East, is voluntarily recognized about one month after the firm was acquired by Spotify. Management’s initial reaction was an attempt to reduce the size of the bargaining unit by reclassifying 30 of 83 positions. Gimlet staffers described their union as “an expression of passion for what we do, and a proactive effort to work with management to shape the future of the company.”
Digital staff at Fortune vote 20-3 to unionize with the NewsGuild of New York (Communication Workers of America) six months after the publication was sold to a new owner. While the magazine’s print staff had been represented by the NewsGuild for many years, management rejected digital journalists’ request for voluntary recognition. In a statement, organizers wrote: “As management encourages its employees to break down the digital/print divide in our coverage, it is time for it to recognize equal protections for all workers.”
After a card-check certification, workers at music site Pitchfork and technology and science site Ars Technica unionize with the NewsGuild of New York (Communication Workers of America). Ars Technica, whose entire staff works remotely, becomes the first digital-media site with no central, physical workplace, to unionize. Workers want to address job security, layoff procedures, fair raises, diversity, and subcontracting.
Quartz staff announce their union has been voluntarily recognized after a third-party verified that over 80 percent of eligible members signed union cards with the NewsGuild of New York (Communication Workers of America). Their unionization announcement cites fair pay, clearly defined expectations, and diversity as a few motivating factors.
Digital employees at Time receive voluntary recognition to join their print colleagues’ union of almost 80 years, the NewsGuild of New York (Communication Workers of America). Staff’s request to unionize in April claimed that former owners and management of Time maintained an “arbitrary print-digital divide.” On November 14, editorial employees at Time For Kids officially joined the bargaining unit. Time journalist @sammcooney tweeted, “When I first started at @TIME over 3 years ago, only print staffers could be represented by the @nyguild. Now, every full-time editorial staffer—regardless of whether they work for print, digital, TFK or some combo of the above—can be members.”
Editorial workers at Wirecutter, a product-review-and-recommendation site published by the New York Times Company, win voluntary recognition from management after announcing they were unionizing with the NewsGuild of New York (Communication Workers of America) in April.
Nearly 50 writer-producers at Vox Entertainment unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East. After a majority of the prospective unit members had signed cards, their union was voluntarily recognized by management. The media workers in the new bargaining unit joined their WGAE editorial colleagues at parent company Vox Media whose union was recognized in early 2018.
Joining the NewsGuild of New York (Communication Workers of America), the 80-member editorial union at BuzzFeed News (US) wins voluntary recognition, concluding a five-month struggle against management’s efforts to reduce the bargaining unit’s size. Days earlier, staff staged a four-hour walkout to intensify pressure. In a public announcement, the union declared: “we reject the argument that we must choose between freelancing in a hellscape gig economy for vampirical platforms or submitting to the whims of a corporation that botches basic HR tasks.”
Vice UK editorial and production staff receive recognition as a chapel, or local, of the National Union of Journalists after four months of negotiation. Management had rejected editorial workers’ attempt to unionize three years earlier, offering to establish an “internal staff council” instead.
Editorial employees of Cascade Public Media, a Seattle non-profit which operates the online publication Crosscut and the PBS affiliate KCTS 9, vote 16-0 to unionize with the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild (Communication Workers of America). The election was overseen by the National Labor Relations Board after Cascade declined to voluntarily recognize the union. Journalists’ key issues included wages that reflect the cost of living, benefits, the integration of units, and a say in the workplace.
Editorial, podcast, and video staff at The Ringer unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East after receiving voluntary recognition. Workers presented management with signed union authorization cards four days prior, citing pay, benefits, diversity, severance, transparency, and creator rights as motivating issues. In February 2020, The Ringer was acquired by Spotify, while the union and management were bargaining.
In a National Labor Relations Board election, Arizona Republic staff vote 64-30 in favour of unionizing with the NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America). The union drive anticipated the merger of the Republic’s owner, Gannett, with the conglomerate GateHouse Media (New Media Investment Group). In a statement, organizers wrote: “Annual layoffs, stagnant salaries, swelling healthcare costs and high turnover weaken local journalism. Our newsroom needs a large, diverse staff to tell the stories of our community. Our newsroom needs a seat at the table.”
Overseen by the National Labor Relations Board, newsroom staff at The Daily Progress vote 12-1 to unionize, forming the Blue Ridge NewsGuild within the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America). Two weeks earlier, employees notified management of the Charlottesville, Virginia outlet—owned by the BH Media Group at the time—of the organizing effort. Galvanizing issues include pay, benefits, workload, job cuts, and collective say in decisions affecting the local news source’s sustainability amid industry uncertainty.
Staff at family-owned Washington newspaper The Columbian vote 19-8 to unionize. The 27-member unit joins the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild (Communication Workers of America). Journalists’ request for voluntary recognition was declined. Wages, diversity, workload, and benefits were central issues. In a public statement, the newsroom workers declared: “To succeed in an uncertain future, The Columbian must put its workers and readers first, united in the conviction that strong local journalism requires strong local jobs.”
Journalists at the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and Miami.com win union recognition through a National Labor Relations Board vote, electing 66-24 to unionize as the One Herald Guild, a unit of the NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America). The vote took place on October 30 and the bargaining unit includes reporters, copy editors, and producers. A major issue driving unionization was parity between journalists who work for the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, which is a Spanish-language publication. Workers at both publications do the same work for less pay, according to a union statement.
Staff at NBC Digital News win a National Labor Relations Board Election 90-40, unionizing with the NewsGuild of New York (Communication Workers of America). Workers announced unionization on October 30, but management refused voluntary recognition, sending out emails to dissuade workers from unionizing instead.
Staff at news website The National Observer unionize with the Canadian Media Guild (CWA Canada). They filed for union certification with the Canada Industrial Relations Board in December 2019. Their unionization announcement read: “We want the work we do to move forward in a way that is healthy and sustainable, as we can expand our staff and broaden our journalistic capacity… to continue to evolve into a better, stronger, more cohesive, more united workplace.”
Reporters, photographers, copyeditors, and other newsroom employees of Missouri’s Springfield News-Leader—a more than 150-year old newspaper—vote unanimously (13-0) to unionize, joining the United Media Guild (Communication Workers of America). Key issues included a shrinking newsroom, how layoffs are handled, and the decision-making power of distant executives at this Gannett-owned publication. The journalists called their new union “another step toward taking some local control of local news.”
Three weeks after requesting a National Labor Relations Board election, South Bend Tribune staff vote 23-3 to unionize with the NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America). In 2019, the Indiana publication was bought by Gatehouse Media, which later merged with Gannett, creating the largest newspaper conglomerate in the US. Job cuts, voice in the workplace, and protecting local journalism were the issues motivating the drive. In a statement, the South Bend Newsguild wrote of its “desire to strengthen our organization through collective action and support.”
Journalists at the Wyoming Tribune Eagle in Cheyenne, Wyoming, unanimously vote to unionize with the NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America), despite anti-union pushback from management. In a statement, the newly formed Cheyenne News Guild states that unionizing will better enable journalists to report on local news, even during difficult economic times. “We hope our decision to unionize resonates with other small, scrappy newspapers across the country,” they write.
Production and post-production staff of online video news outlet The Young Turks (TYT) vote 9-6 to unionize with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). TYT co-founder and host, Cenk Uygur, strongly opposed unionization. During the drive, IATSE filed two unfair labour practice complaints, including a retaliatory firing allegation. “In our decision to go union,” organizers stated, “we join the wave of recent organizing in digital media, and we stand in solidarity with the renaissance of labor activism we see now in workplaces of all kinds throughout the country.”
Digital journalists at Sports Illustrated sign a voluntary recognition agreement, joining their coworkers on the magazine’s print side, which has been represented by the NewsGuild of New York (Communication Workers of America) since 1954. The new bargaining unit consists of approximately 80 staff. The drive had more than 90% support when it was announced on January 6, 2020. Equity, temporary staff, and harassment protocols were among the journalists’ concerns. Additional motivations stemmed from conditions under new owner, Maven, including significant layoffs, which disproportionately impacted people of colour and women, and inconsistent editorial standards.
Editorial staff of the non-profit online newsroom VTDigger win voluntary recognition. The VTDigger NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America) union drive was initiated prior to the pandemic to foster supportive conditions for high-quality journalism. The COVID-19 crisis, the VTDigger NewsGuild wrote in a public statement, “has highlighted the importance of our mission, but it has also heightened the fragility of our industry. Now more than ever, our newsroom staff needs a seat at the table to ensure rank-and-file editorial employees have a voice in the difficult decisions ahead.”
Journalists at The Roanoke Times and Laker Weekly of Virginia win a National Labor Board union election with 94% in favour (47-3). The Timesland News Guild, which joined the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America), organized to improve working conditions and protect local news, symbolically announcing their union drive on March 17, 2020, one day after the newspapers had been acquired by Lee Enterprises. Says one reporter in a union statement: “Today, The Roanoke Times newsroom stood up, not just for each other, but for our readers.”
In a National Labor Relations Board election, Idaho Statesman news staff vote unanimously to unionize with the NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America). Turnover, layoffs, healthcare, and pay equity were among the journalists’ concerns. The campaign was announced on March 2, 2020, two weeks after the paper’s owner, McClatchy, filed for bankruptcy protection. The Idaho Statesman’s 18 newly unionized journalists joined five other McClatchy-owned newsrooms represented by the NewsGuild and thus gained a seat at the table in discussions about the publisher’s bankruptcy restructuring.
One week after requesting it, the 12-person editorial and tech staff union of Inside Higher Ed wins voluntary recognition. While the employees had started organizing with the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America) prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for union protection was seen as more urgent as cuts swept the media industry. In a statement, the Inside Higher Ed Guild wrote: “We appreciate that tight deadlines and shifting schedules are part of the nature of our profession, especially during a global crisis. We would, however, like to promote a healthier work-life balance as we adapt to our new normal.”
In a National Labor Board election that was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Orlando Sentinel, El Sentinel, and Pro Soccer USA staff vote 36-8 to unionize with the NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America). Employees of these Tribune-owned outlets wanted to protect local journalism and media workers’ livelihoods from the effects of “decisions of distant corporate leaders who have hollowed out newsrooms across the country.” Said one reporter: “We’re coming together to hold our company accountable and to demand a voice at the table. But it’s a really dark time, too, for us at the Sentinel. My colleagues and I are taking furloughs or pay cuts. We need a union now more than ever.”
Employees of Florida’s Bradenton Herald vote 6-2 to unionize with the NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America). Like other recently unionized outlets owned by McClatchy, a publishing conglomerate that filed for bankruptcy protection in early 2020, the Bradenton Herald NewsGuild was motivated to preserve local journalism and journalism jobs at a perilous moment for their newsroom. As private equity firms were considering a purchase of McClatchy, the Bradenton Herald Guild joined wider union efforts to lobby for a buyer that would sustain local journalism rather than gut newsrooms.
Staff at alternative weeklies Miami New Times and Phoenix New Times vote in a National Labor Relations Board election to unionize with the Media Guild of the West (Communication Workers of America). The papers’ parent company, Voice Media Group, had sold off a number of weeklies in recent years. In addition to its desire to sustain local coverage, the Voice Media Guild, which consists of about 20 employees, organized to address equitable pay, benefits, a pressurized work environment, and voice on the job.
Joining the Media Guild of the West (Communication Workers of America), the union of about 30 staff of Pop-Up Magazine Productions, which makes California Sunday Magazine and Pop-Up Magazine, wins voluntary recognition. While the union drive predated the COVID-19 crisis, organizers wrote: “the uncertainty that the pandemic has created for many in our industry speaks even more to the necessity of unionizing.” In addition to protecting job security, staff organized to “bolster transparency, increase diversity, guarantee fair compensation, and create clear pathways for career development.”
Editorial staff of the New York office of Pageant Media, a financial information publisher, vote 15-3 to join the News Media Guild (Communication Workers of America). Management declined to voluntarily recognize the Pageant Media Workers’ Guild. In addition to improving employment terms and work culture, the 26-member bargaining unit’s concerns included the potential implications of a recent private equity investment in Pageant. Soon after winning the union vote amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Guild was fighting for the reinstatement of six colleagues, including visible union supporters, who had been laid off.
Employees at four Gannett-owned publications in Florida vote to unionize (Communication Workers of America). Staff at the Naples Daily News and Ft. Myers News-Press vote 38-6 to unionize, forming the Southwest Florida News Guild, while 55 journalists at the Palm Beach Post and Palm Beach Daily News unanimously support unionization, forming the Palm Beach News Guild. A statement by the Southwest Florida News Guild highlighted deteriorating work conditions and a shrinking newsroom: “Collectively, we can fight for better pay, improved benefits and a diversity in our newsrooms that better reflects the communities we serve.”
Eighteen newsroom staff of The Billings Gazette vote unanimously in favour of unionizing in an election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. They form The Montana News Guild as part of the Denver News Guild (Communication Workers of America). Founded in 1885, the daily newspaper’s owner, Lee Enterprises, declined the union’s request on May 28, 2020 for voluntary recognition. Members of the 21-person bargaining unit cited a range of motivations to organize, including voice, transparency, compensation, a shrinking newsroom, and the need for a more secure environment for producing local journalism.
The staff of Jewish Currents unanimously vote to unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East, and are recognized immediately. “Forming a union is the best way to make sure that our magazine continues to uphold the pro-labor values on which it was founded,” staff wrote in a statement. Staff hope that unionizing can protect editorial independence, clarify organizational structure, secure work-life balance, ensure equitable pay and benefits, and enable staff to “advocate for editorial decisions that prioritize solidarity with communities of color, and particularly with the Jews of color and Palestinians effectively silenced within and beyond much of the Jewish media landscape.”
The Canada Industrial Relations Board certifies the Canadaland union. Joining the CWA Canada, the podcast network and news organization’s 10 non-management employees unanimously supported unionization. In a statement, the union declared: “We, the workers of Canadaland, believe that forming a union is the best path forward—not just for us, but for the company as a whole. We will benefit from clear policies setting out organizational structure, editorial vision, and concrete measures for achieving greater diversity in our workplace and programming.”
Staff at 28 Hearst Magazines publications vote 241 to 83 to unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) in a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election. Staff announced they were unionizing in November 2019 to improve diversity, transparency, pay and benefits, and editorial standards. Hearst refused to recognize the union, created an anti-union website, and tried to divide the bargaining unit into six separate units. The WGAE filed an unfair labour practice charge and the NLRB ruled in favour of one bargaining unit. The Hearst Magazines Media Union is made up of about 500 workers across editorial, video, photo, design, and social media at publications including Esquire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health, Harper’s Bazaar, and Seventeen.
Staff at non-profit education reporting site Chalkbeat announce they have unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East. Management swiftly recognized the union, which includes reporters, editors, visuals staff, and the engagement team. Staff view the union as a way to ensure Chalkbeat keeps its commitment to anti-racism and hiring more staff from underrepresented communities by establishing processes to hire and retain racialized workers. In their organizing statement, workers also highlight a need for equitable and transparent pay, for processes around layoffs and furloughs, and an abiding commitment to “independent and powerful journalism.”
Journalists at Delaware Online and The News Journal are certified to form the Delaware NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America). Workers announced their unionization in early March and voted in a National Labor Relations Board election in July. In a public statement, Guild members explained that they want a “seat at the table,” especially since the paper’s owner, Gannett, merged with Gatehouse Media, companies with “histories of putting profits before the mission of journalism.” The Guild wants to protect workers in the face of layoffs, improve “stagnant salaries” and health benefits, and protect their ability to produce journalism.
Staff of the Tribune Content Agency vote to unionize with The NewsGuild-Communication Workers of America (CWA). When they announced their drive, journalists said they unionized to “combat furloughs, the shuttering of Chicago’s Spanish language publication Hoy, issues stemming from a lack of diversity in leadership, and the prioritization of shareholder profits over communities.” Staff work remotely across the US and most had not met one another in person—the entire campaign was conducted virtually. Another Tribune Publishing unit, staff of Daily Meal Ventures, was also certified in a 5-0 vote to unionize with the NewsGuild-CWA.
Digital editorial staff at People Magazine vote 45-3 to unionize with The NewsGuild of New York (Communication Workers of America). The unit joins colleagues who work on the print side of the publication, which has been unionized with The NewsGuild of New York for decades. Digital staffers wanted to address an arbitrary print-digital divide at the publication to give digital workers access to the same benefits and protections as their print colleagues. The unit announced their unionization in May. Meredith CEO Tom Harty refused voluntary recognition and insisted on a vote.
Seattle Times digital staff vote unanimously (10-0) to join the newspaper’s print staff as unionized members of the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild (The NewsGuild-Communication Workers of America). Digital journalists announced their union drive in May under the banner “One Newsroom, One Union.” Management rejected their request for voluntary recognition and tried to block the National Labor Relations Board election. Journalists pushed for a fair election, posting video messages about why they wanted to unionize to their Twitter account and mobilizing support from community members and print-side colleagues.
About 40 journalists in the Toronto newsroom of the national newspaper the National Post vote to unionize with Unifor, the largest private-sector union in Canada. “This is about their working conditions, their relationship with their employer and compensation,” a Unifor organizer told the media. Journalists at the Postmedia Network-owned newspaper had tried to unionize in 2017 with the Communication Workers of America-Canada, but faced an anti-union campaign from management, according to Canadaland, and the drive failed with an online Ontario Labour Relations Board vote of 31-32. The first drive was motivated by frequent layoffs and buyouts, cuts to staff benefits and pensions, and news that top Postmedia executives received millions of dollars in retention bonuses.
Journalists at The Dallas Morning News and Al Día Dallas become the first unionized journalists in Texas by voting 84-28 to unionize with the NewsGuild-Communication Workers of America and forming the Dallas News Guild. Staff announced the union drive in July, and when owner A. H. Belo Corporation refused to voluntarily recognize the union, a vote was organized at the National Labor Relations Board. Announcing their union, journalists stated: “we understand our industry is in turmoil… this tumult has resulted in no-raise promotions, increased work without increased pay and staffing that has been cut to the bone… We seek to work with management to build a more stable and secure environment so that local journalism can thrive.”
Editorial Staff at NowThis, a video news site owned by Group Nine Media, announces they are unionizing with the Writers Guild of America, East, and that management has voluntarily recognized the union. In a statement, workers link their union drive to a “broad movement for racial equity in newsrooms and workplaces across the country” and say that 85 percent of the 90-person bargaining unit signed union cards. The union effort began with a group of “BIPOC and allied staff” pushing for the company to address “systemic racism, inequality, and exploitation,” leading workers to acknowledge that a union was the most effective way to push for change. NowThis is the third Group Nine outlet to unionize; Thrillist and The Dodo are working under their first collective agreements.
The Fort-Worth Star-Telegram becomes the second newsroom in Texas to unionize after parent corporation McClatchy Co. voluntarily recognizes the union. More than 80 percent of eligible workers signed union cards to join The NewsGuild-Communication Workers of America. Unionizing, journalists note, will ensure “we will have enough reporters, photographers and editors to cover all of the proud, diverse neighborhoods of our city and suburbs.” They cite layoffs and the purchase of the paper by hedge fund Chatham Asset Management as part of the impetus to unionize.
About 200 workers in the editorial, creative, social media, and video departments of Bustle Digital Group unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East. The unit includes staff at Bustle, Elite Daily, Input, Inverse, Mic, Nylon, Romper, and The Zoe Report. The union, which was voluntarily recognized almost one month after workers announced their drive, identified pay, job security, diversity, equity, inclusion, and editorial independence as motivation. They wrote to management: “we are proud of creating work that is intentionally inclusive, creative, and empowering. Unionizing will allow us to more fully live out these values. Considering the momentous changes that are routine in our industry and the unique challenges of the past year, we feel now is the time to join our industry peers and organize in the hopes of forming a more equitable workplace.”
Following other recently unionized Condé Nast brands, WIRED’s editorial union is recognized, eight months after announcing a union drive. Represented by the NewsGuild of New York (Communication Workers of America), the approximately 70-member union formed to address pay disparities, voice in the newsroom, diversity, and permalancers. While the unionization discussion preceded the COVID-19 pandemic, the drive, which went public on April 22, 2020, seemed more urgent as Condé Nast announced cuts and layoffs. Said one WIRED staff, “we have a responsibility to demand a say in how those cuts are decided.”
Journalists at the Lawrence-Journal World in Lawrence, Kansas, vote to unionize, joining the United Media Guild (Communication Workers of America). In their announcement in September, journalists noted that the past decade has seen layoffs and cutbacks at the paper, and that the sale of the paper to Ogden Newspapers, based in Virginia, resulted in more cuts. “Despite having a billionaire owner,” the union’s statement notes, “the company’s actions have not demonstrated a true commitment to quality journalism or adequate support of the people who produce it.”
Journalists at the Loveland Reporter-Herald win a National Labor Relations Board vote to unionize with the Denver News Guild (Communication Workers of America), becoming the first newsroom to successfully unionize in the state of Colorado since the 1940s. Announcing their union drive in December 2020, journalists stated that after almost a decade of ownership by MediaNewsGoup, staff have been “cut to the bone,” and the remaining few staff now face pay cuts and furloughs. Unionizing, they note, is a response to management austerity and a way to protect the paper for the community.
Daily Kos workers join the Pacific Media Workers Guild local of The NewsGuild-Communication Workers of America after management voluntarily recognizes the unit. In a Twitter thread, workers list a range of reasons for unionizing, including transparent policies on recruitment, promotions, and pay; building “collective power” to protect racialized, LGBT, and disabled workers; and “content areas that better represent the breadth and diversity of our staff.”
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