The journalists and staff of the Springfield News-Leader have announced the formation of the Springfield News Guild, and will be taking steps to unionize their newsroom.
A release from the organization stated that the government will be receiving all the necessary paperwork this week to formally start the unionization process. A spokeswoman for the organization told OI that the newsroom is overwhelmingly behind the move and that no one person was behind the decision.
“It’s a leaderless revolution,” News-Leader education reporter Claudette Riley told OI. “We made decisions by consensus. Every single full-time eligible news gathering staffer signed a card to notify the government of our desire to have a union, to call for an election for a union.”
Riley noted that under the rules for unionization, anyone who supervises at least one person is ineligible for joining the union, but that all the News-Leader employees have the “utmost faith” in their local editors and this action is not a reflection upon them.
The Springfield News Guild press release stated the move comes in response to “faraway executives” ordering “cut after cut” to staff and community services. Riley said watching the impact of major cuts to staffing in other newsrooms around the nation played a factor in the decision.
The Guild says that local editors have had no say over the personnel decisions that have impacted their newsroom and the formation of the union will give them a seat at the table for future cuts and changes. Once the vote to unionize takes place, the process then would begin toward collective bargaining for a contract.
The Guild intends to negotiate a contract with Gannett that will “include fair wages and benefits” with an aim to keep “experienced staffers from leaving.”
OI reached out to Gannett corporate offices in McLean, Virginia but no one returned our calls by press time.