Why are we unionizing?
We are forming our union so the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newsroom has more local control. The Fort Worth NewsGuild will allow us to negotiate with Chatham Asset Management/McClatchy for fair pay, benefits, vacation time, reporting resources, and strong editorial principles for all staff. The Guild ensures our ability to advocate for journalists in Fort Worth who work for an out-of-state company. This will give employees a voice to advocate for adequate news coverage for readers in our community for years to come.
The need to unionize is particularly urgent, given recent events. McClatchy filed for bankruptcy in early 2020 and was purchased by Chatham, a New Jersey-based hedge fund, in September.
Who is leading the union?
Star-Telegram staff are the union. Staff will elect representatives to form a bargaining committee that will negotiate with McClatchy for our first contract. All contract decisions will be voted on by all union members.
Can we have a union in Texas?
Yes! We know Texas is a “right-to-work” state. That just means it is illegal to make union membership mandatory. There are already several unions in the Lone Star state, including the Texas American Federation of Teachers, Texas AFL-CIO and The NewsGuild’s parent union, Communications Workers of America.
Will unionizing impact the stories I read in the Star-Telegram?
No. We will continue to provide unbiased, fair reporting. The union will strengthen our newsroom. If anything, it will lead to better coverage as we advocate for our hard working journalists and develop better means for recruiting and retaining talent.
How does the process work?
We have informed McClatchy of our intent to unionize and have asked for voluntary recognition of our bargaining unit. If the company declines to recognize our union, an election will be held. All eligible union members will vote in the election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board. Our union will be certified by the board through voting results that reflect the majority of newsroom support.
How can I support the union?
If you’re an employee, tell your manager you support the union and you want McClatchy to voluntarily recognize the Guild. If the company doesn’t and we take the issue to a vote, we hope you vote yes.
If you’re a reader, email our editor, Steve Coffman at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him to recognize our union! Consider subscribing to the Star-Telegram (if you don’t already!). Tell your friends the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is gaining more local control. Consider emailing our editor to voice your support for our effort. Give us a shout out on Twitter.
Will the Guild make reporters go on strike?
No. Every action we take will be voted on by the entire union. Taking an action like a strike is something we would decide democratically as a group. There are a variety of actions we can take to show owners our strength. Strikes at other union publications are rare. We believe it would be a last option.
Could Star-Telegram staff be punished for supporting the union?
No. Under federal law, it’s illegal to retaliate against an employee for organizing. Any actions taken against an employee – change in schedule, workload, responsibilities, pay – that are seen as retaliatory are illegal. The more openly supportive you are, the more protected you are under these laws.
How much are union dues, and what are they for?
Union dues are approximately 1.3% of annual salary. You will not start paying dues until we have a contract in place and union members have voted to ratify it.
Will supporting the NewsGuild erode the impartiality of journalists?
No. This union is about improving our newsroom and our coverage to better meet the needs of our community. Journalists can bargain with the corporation that owns their newspaper and cover the community in which they live and work.
Reporters at four McClatchy/Chatham Asset Management newspapers – Sacramento Bee, Fresno Bee, Modesto Bee and the Lexington Herald-Leader – have been members of unions for years. The Miami Herald, The Bradenton Herald, The Idaho Statesman, The Hilton Head Island Packet and the Beaufort Gazette recently unionized. Reporters at dozens of other respected news outlets across the country are in unions, including the Associated Press, Reuters, New York Times, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times.