After a series of management shake-ups and unpopular policies, the Los Angeles Times made history in January when its newsroom voted 248-44 to unionize. It was the first time in the organization’s 136 years of operation.
So, why now?
Sally Davidow, communications director at the NewsGuild-CWA (who helped the Times organize), said the environment is changing in favor of unions for a number of reasons: “The victory at the L.A. Times has certainly sparked interest in other places, but also the atmosphere in general was sort of ripe for before that. The situation in the industry is very dire. People feel they can’t earn a decent living and they have no control over their work schedules. They really want a voice at work and equity for women and people of color. So, there are a lot of very important issues.”
Carl Hall, executive officer of Pacific Media Workers Guild, added, “People are starting to see that a union make sense. The news business is seeing more interest, and I think there will be an increase in interest as people realize they need a voice at work in order to have any real parity or ability to negotiate.”
With layoffs an inevitable factor in today’s environment, more and more newspapers and media organizations are opting to form unions as a way of securing equal pay and better benefits, and providing a safety net when those inevitable layoffs hit. In addition to Davidow and Hall, E&P spoke with several newspaper staffers who spearheaded the move to unionize at their papers and the guild reps that helped guide them.