The Olympian's newsroom staff have voted to unionize


Journalists at The Olympian, The News Tribune in Tacoma, The Bellingham Herald, and the Tri-City Herald are unionizing, according to an announcement yesterday. 

Nearly 90 percent of eligible reporters, visual journalists and digital staff at the newspapers, all owned by the McClatchy Company [a subsidiary of Chatham Asset Management] have signed cards authorizing representation by The Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild of The NewsGuild-CWA.

The employees of the Washington State NewsGuild bargaining unit have requested voluntary recognition from management, citing overwhelming support among staff, as well as McClatchy’s recent decisions to voluntarily recognize unions at the Hilton Head Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, according to the announcement. 

"Our Washington communities rely on strong local newspapers to keep them informed about issues that impact their lives, and organizers say it is with them in mind the union will advocate for workplace security, diversity and inclusion and investments in our four newsrooms," according to the announcement. Organizers note the four newsrooms do not reflect the communities they serve, and that needs to change. 

"I grew up in Pierce County, and watching the paper my family subscribed to as a kid suffer has been incredibly painful to watch,” said Matt Driscoll, an organizer and reporter and columnist at The News Tribune in Tacoma. “Like an overwhelming majority of my colleagues, I’m supporting unionization because I believe it will give us a chance to build the kind of newspaper this community deserves. It will help us diversify the newsroom and become a paper that reflects our community, which has been a glaring issue since long before I started.”

Under McClatchy, each paper has suffered losses that have been felt not only by the staff, but by the communities the papers cover. Over the past decade, the number of people working at these newsrooms has precipitously declined, even as the population in the communities has increased and the issues needing coverage have multiplied. Collectively, the four papers are down to a total of fewer than 40 union-eligible newsroom staff over the entirety of Washington state. 

“Our communities deserve to have local papers that not only provide community-focused, watchdog journalism, but have a company that invests in the journalists telling those stories. We deserve fair working conditions and appropriate pay. This effort is for the survival of our papers,” said Denver Pratt, an organizer and courts and criminal justice reporter at The Bellingham Herald. “Each of us care about our jobs and respective communities, it’s time for McClatchy to care about us.”

The above was excerpted from an announcement by Washington State NewsGuild.  

The JOLT reported on Chatham Asset's acquisition of McClatchy on July 24, 2020. 


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