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Star-Telegram journalists announce intent to form union with 'overwhelming majority' of staff support

Fort Worth NewsGuild

A Unit of the NewsGuild-CWA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE       Contact: Kaley Johnson

Oct. 14, 2020

          (682) 231-2145

FORT WORTH, Texas Journalists at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram took a step forward to protect the legacy newspaper Wednesday by announcing their intent to form a union with an overwhelming majority of the staff backing their efforts.

Eligible reporters, photographers and producers at the newspaper officially asked The McClatchy Company to recognize the Fort Worth NewsGuild as a unit of The NewsGuild- Communications Workers of America.

The Star-Telegram would become the eleventh McClatchy newsroom to form a union. It’s the second major newsroom to announce its plans to unionize in Texas, following a July announcement by the Dallas Morning News.

Star-Telegram journalists are dedicated to Fort Worth and deserve a voice in the decisions that impact our newsroom,” said Luke Ranker, the newspaper’s government reporter of two years. “The NewsGuild will help us advocate for ourselves and our community, and ensure a strong legacy into the future.”

Organizers with the union requested voluntary recognition from McClatchy, the Star-Telegram’s parent company, which is now owned by Chatham Asset Management. Recognizing the union would allow contract negotiations between McClatchy and the newsroom staff to begin.

The announcement follows the finalization of McClatchy’s sale to Chatham, a New Jersey- based hedge fund. The sale came six months after McClatchy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy following more than a decade of losses and layoffs.

“The Star-Telegram is entering new territory, as we are now owned by a hedge fund instead of a family who had a strong foundation in journalism,” said ElizabethCampbell, the Star-Telegram’s suburban reporter who has been with the paper for more than 30 years. “We want to protect the legacy the Star-Telegram has built over its many years.”

The group aims to protect and maintain the strong journalism that is produced by its newsroom staff. Newspapers owned by hedge funds have seen massive cuts in newsroom and production jobs across the country, and Fort Worth NewsGuild journalists want a say in the decisions made about their workplace. They believe it’s important that Texans working in the community have a seat at the table.

Our union gives us the opportunity to better provide the coverage Fort Worth deserves and to recruit new, diverse talent to ensure its future stability,” said Mark Dent, an investigative reporter who joined the paper in 2020.

The newspaper has covered North Texas for 111 years and continues to produce award-winning journalism that tells the stories of its community, impacts policymakers, holds elected officials accountable and keeps the residents of Tarrant County and the surrounding areas informed of decisions that affect them day-to-day.

Organizers intend to work with McClatchy to make sure that work is strengthened even more, to protect its employees and to fight for a diverse newsroom that better reflects its community.

“Latinos make up one-third of Fort Worth residents, but right now we only have three reporters who speak Spanish,” said Kristian Hernandez, an investigative reporter who joined the paper in 2020. “I want to make sure we have a paper that understands our community and speaks their language.”

Keep up with organizing efforts on Twitter – @FortWorthGuild.