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Idaho NewsGuild unanimously ratifies first union contract. Here’s what it won

Two years after unanimously voting to form a union, Idaho NewsGuild members unanimously ratified their first contract with the Idaho Statesman and its corporate owner, McClatchy.

The Idaho NewsGuild voted 19-0 in favor of a three-year contract. Highlights include:

  • Raises of 9.9% to 27.7% for full-time employees
  • Guaranteed yearly raises 
  • $1,000 signing bonuses
  • $48,000 minimum salary for all current full-time journalists 
  • Strong protections against outsourcing
  • Just-cause protections
  • Parental leave
  • Improved vacation benefits

The ratification comes after a two-year battle to secure a first contract. During that time, journalists at the Idaho Statesman lived through a corporate bankruptcy, a hedge fund takeover and a global pandemic that altered daily life. They also watched McClatchy deny us benefits awarded to non-union employees, wrongfully fire our editor and try to force page view quotas on our journalists in violation of federal labor law.

“McClatchy tried to divide us at every turn,” said Michael Lycklama, an Idaho Statesman sports writer, bargaining committee member and Guild steward. “But we didn’t just survive. We emerged stronger each time.”

No employee can be disciplined solely for failing to meet page view goals under terms of the contract. And employees do not have to use them in their yearly performance evaluation.

The Idaho NewsGuild also secured the return of a 40-hour work week, company-provided cell phones, bonuses for night work, an improved grievance procedure, and health and safety protections. Additionally, McClatchy can not use non-disclosure agreements to settle claims of discrimination, sexual harassment or sexual assault.

“Our goals as a newsroom went unchanged throughout this process – to ensure we keep delivering critical information to our readers, while being able to afford to do so,” said Kevin Fixler, an Idaho Statesman investigative reporter and bargaining committee member. “We have now met that objective, and we very much appreciate the community’s long-standing support.”

The Idaho NewsGuild is part of a wave of journalists across the country and inside McClatchy forming unions to protect their community’s news coverage. Fourteen McClatchy newsrooms have unionized in the past three years, leaving 18 of the chain’s 31 newsrooms – more than half – with union representation.

A full copy of the contract will be posted to our website soon.

Idaho’s prices are soaring, but our wages are flat. Tell the Statesman it must do better.

The situation in Boise is dire. Rents are skyrocketing and housing supplies remain low. Still, McClatchy keeps salaries low, instead of paying to keep good reporters in Boise.

We demand McClatchy pay its workers a fair wage — and you can join us by sending a letter to management here.

Our own reporting shows this. Boise is the most unaffordable city in the U.S. Rent prices rose by 20% in 2021.

Some of our colleagues make less than $42,000 a year — meaning they qualify for low-income housing in Ada County. That’s unacceptable.

As a result, many of our staff struggle to find an affordable place to live. Some are forced into temporary housing for months. 

In Boise, it can be a struggle to afford the necessities. We aren’t immune.

For some, the only way to get a raise is to leave. Ten employees have left since we first organized in 2020. Compensation was the chief reason.

There’s no reward for experience or staying at the Statesman. And being stuck at one salary makes living in Boise untenable.

Many reporters coming up in the news business are told, “Pay your dues.” They’re paid poverty wages, with the promise being they’ll one day get paid a fair wage.

We’ve paid our dues. Now it’s time for McClatchy to bargain in good faith and pay their staff a living wage.

Of course, we need your help to make this happen. Please submit a letter and tell McClatchy you want the Statesman’s staff to be compensated fairly for their work.

No one should struggle to pay the bills — journalists included.

McClatchy shifts its business expenses onto employees’ wallets. That must stop.

Year after year, The McClatchy Company subsidizes its business by refusing to adequately reimburse Idaho Statesman employees for the essentials needed to do their job. It’s time to change that. Support us by sending a message to management here.

A cell phone is needed in 2022. Our journalists constantly talk to sources. Send emails. Check Twitter. Burn through data. Take photos and videos.

Nearly all of that work is done on our personal phones. That’s only increased as we work from home after the sale of the Statesman’s office.

The company shared its interest in providing employees with optional cell phones six months ago. We’re waiting on a counterproposal, but in the meantime have been stuck using our personal cell phones at a whopping $25 a month reimbursement.

That’s a fraction of the average cell phone bill, and a number McClatchy has repeatedly cut. Employees using their personal cell phone must cover the rest of the cost for a tool necessary to their job. 

Additionally, we spend our days driving to assignments across the Treasure Valley. McClatchy reimburses us at just 33 cents per mile. That’s only slightly more than half the IRS standard rate for mileage of 58.5 cents per mile, once again shifting company expenses onto employees.

McClatchy also requires we provide and maintain a car for company use, and that we pay the full cost of insurance. This costs hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars each year. Meanwhile, some McClatchy employees elsewhere in the country get half their insurance paid for.

Many of us moved long distances to work here. Moving costs can easily be thousands of dollars, a recruiting expense McClatchy burdens employees with. The company leaves it to employees to “negotiate” for reimbursement, a process we’ve watched play out unfairly many times.

The bottom line: We must pay to do our own jobs. Instead of supporting us, McClatchy shovels more and more of its expenses onto our wallets. We want a fair deal when it comes to items integral to our jobs.

Let management know their actions are unacceptable.

Transparency: It’s not just for others. The Idaho Statesman needs it too

We are calling on The McClatchy Company, owner of the Idaho Statesman, to commit to fair and equitable pay for its employees. Today, we’re talking about transparency in job ads. Support us over the next few weeks by sending a letter to management here.

Transparency remains one of the bedrock principles of the Idaho NewsGuild. This was a value we believed we shared with McClatchy, a news company that professes public transparency and holding those in power accountable.

We’ve since learned otherwise.

McClatchy refuses to list salary ranges in job postings for the Idaho Statesman. This shroud of secrecy paves the way for pay disparities in the news industry, which for decades has paid women and people of color a fraction of their white male colleagues.

Pay disparities are sadly not an issue of the past. The Statesman recently had a male and female reporter with the same job. The female employee had a decade of experience on that specific beat. The male employee had three years — yet made $3,800 more a year.

To address these diversity and equity flaws, the Idaho NewsGuild proposed as part of its first contract that all job postings must include a salary range. This will establish a level playing field for all job candidates.

Despite all this, McClatchy has refused to commit to pay transparency in our first contract over and over again. No explanation. No justification. Just, “No.” 

The message is clear: “Transparency for thee, not for me.” 

Like many companies today, McClatchy makes plenty of lofty statements about valuing diversity, equity and inclusion — but has yet to significantly demonstrate that commitment. This is a simple, concrete step toward improving our newsroom.

Pay transparency is a proven method to narrow wage gaps. Look no further than the federal government, which requires salary ranges in all job postings. Women there are paid 93 cents for every dollar a man earns, compared to 84 cents for every dollar in the private sector.

Smart companies are following suit. They know they must fight to attract talented and diverse employees in this competitive market. Jobs without basic salary information are quickly skipped over or forgotten for companies that value candidates’ time and attention.

Take a drive around town and you’ll find companies advertising their wages loudly. They’ve learned a lesson McClatchy hasn’t. 

A news organization that claims a commitment to transparency yet refuses to share its salaries can’t expect to attract the employees it needs to thrive.

McClatchy’s refusal is also quickly becoming illegal. Colorado and New York City now require salary information in all job ads. More states and cities are requiring wage info early in interviews. 

That list will only grow. McClatchy needs to get on the right side of history.

Being upfront about salaries also benefits McClatchy. The Idaho Statesman has spent significant resources vetting and interviewing candidates in the past year, only to have them withdraw when they learn what the job pays. 

Why waste everyone’s time and resources?

The kicker? McClatchy instituted a company-wide salary minimum March 1, 2021. It’s currently $42,187 a year in Boise. 

Executives have bragged about the minimum in company town halls. But they don’t want job candidates to know what they could earn. 


We know pay transparency is not a silver bullet to fix every diversity issue in our newsroom. But it is an effective tool and a significant first step. We question why a company that publicly claims it’s committed to diversity, equity and inclusion would reject it. 

Join us in telling McClatchy it needs to treat its employees fairly and equitably by signing this petition and sending a message to management.

A big victory for Idaho readers, Idaho NewsGuild. Pageview quotas are not allowed.

We have big news to share in our fight to #ProtectIdahoNews. 

McClatchy can not force mandatory pageview quotas on Idaho Statesman journalists, Region 27 of the NLRB recently determined. 

The NLRB found merit to our Unfair Labor Practice charge. We alleged McClatchy, the owner of the Idaho Statesman, violated our protections under federal labor law as a newly formed union by unilaterally changing our annual performance reviews.

McClatchy wanted to make pageviews and other digital metric quotas a mandatory part of those reviews. Our performance reviews are used to determine raises and, the company has suggested, our place in line for layoffs. This was brand new to the Idaho Statesman.

We protested internally for months, warning McClatchy this was a clear and simple violation of its legal duty to bargain with our union. The company refused to listen to its employees and plowed ahead. So we called in the big guns, which quickly ruled in our favor. 

So, what does this mean? It means Idaho Statesman journalists no longer have to fear losing their job for missing an arbitrary quota they had no role in setting. It means they don’t have to cede their news judgement to please Facebook’s and Google’s algorithms. 

But most importantly, it means readers will get their information from journalists chasing news, not clicks. 

Our most impactful stories — the ones that hold leaders accountable and help you lead a better life — are rarely the ones with the most pageviews. McClatchy’s plan would have led us to deemphasize or abandon those stories in favor of the day’s viral headline.

Valuable insights can be gleaned from measuring readership. We are not burying our heads in the sand and will use them when appropriate. But this illegal change threatened our credibility and our relationship with readers, who made it clear they wanted no part in this. 

We owe a heartfelt thank you to all the readers who stood with us in this fight. Your support has meant more than you can know. It can be scary to take on a national corporation. But you showed we are not alone in the fight to #ProtectIdahoNews.

Journalism can not be reduced to clicks. Tell McClatchy to live up to its promise.

Despite ours and our readers’ protests, the owner of the Idaho Statesman continues to ram through mandatory pageview quotas for its journalists.

Apparently it hasn’t received the message. So join us in collectively telling McClatchy this is wrong. You can send an email directly to McClatchy leadership by filling out the form below.

McClatchy promised for years it would not judge employees on pageviews. It said they were just goals to strive for. It said it was no big deal if you missed them.

But it has broken that promise.

In our most recent round of performance reviews, management inserted pageview quotas and other digital metrics into goals supposedly set by employees. There was no discussion, and no conversation about their weight.

Under past practice, success on these reviews dictates our salaries. Pageview quotas have never been a required part of these reviews.

And in current contract negotiations, McClatchy revealed plans to use annual reviews – which it says must include pageviews – to determine layoffs.

Employees have zero input on these arbitrary quotas. It’s unclear how McClatchy sets them. It can’t clearly explain how they help our bottom line. And they create perverse incentives for our coverage, incentives that defy everything McClatchy publicly claims to stand for.

McClatchy tried this at the Sacramento Bee. It relented after national blowback and does not require them.

So why require them here? Are Idaho journalists lesser than Sacramento ones? Do Idaho readers deserve less than those in California?

The Idaho NewsGuild has filed an Unfair Labor Practice against McClatchy and the Idaho Statesman over these quotas. These mandatory quotas are a violation of our status quo protections under federal labor law.

Let us be clear: We are not against measuring digital readership. It can be an effective tool to expand our audience and provide meaningful feedback.

But it can not capture the work and value of a journalist. Period.

Judging journalists by pageviews rewards controversy over clarity. It rewards quantity over quality. It rewards outrage over solutions.

It’s bad for the Idaho Statesman. It’s bad for our readers. It’s bad for Idaho.

Please join us in telling McClatchy to keep these mandatory quotas out of Idaho.

Thank you for your support. The Idaho NewsGuild is not done fighting.

One week after the inappropriate firing of our editor, Christina Lords, we resumed negotiating our first contract with McClatchy. We are eternally thankful for all of your support. But we will still need it in the coming fight. 

Last week, McClatchy finally agreed to hire four open reporter positions in our newsroom. While it’s no replacement for the unjust loss of an editor trusted by the community and our newsroom — especially during a pandemic — we know Boise needs more journalism, not less.

We’re still angry that the decisions of out-of-state executives took a champion of local news from our newsroom. But now we’re coming to the bargaining table with renewed resolve to fight to protect local news in Idaho.

We’re fighting to ensure our journalists have the equipment necessary to do our jobs safely. We’re fighting to ensure we have the resources to hold the powerful accountable and produce exemplary journalism that helps our community navigate the difficulties of the pandemic.

Mainly, we’re fighting for a fair contract that will allow us to retain talented journalists who know Idaho well — and who care about producing the quality journalism that Boise deserves. 

The Idaho NewsGuild is endlessly grateful to the Idahoans and journalists across the U.S. who bravely spoke out last week. You showed McClatchy that Idahoans care about quality local news. Interference that threatens the Idaho Statesman’s ability to provide that isn’t welcome.


The Idaho NewsGuild Bargaining Team

Idaho Statesman editor wrongfully fired. Tell McClatchy to reinstate her.

McClatchy fired Christina Lords, the Idaho Statesman’s top editor, Monday after she publicly advocated for more resources for the newsroom — a newsroom decimated under McClatchy leadership.

With the email form below, you can tell the Idaho Statesman’s corporate parent company that was wrong and that she must be reinstated. It will go to McClatchy’s CEO, its vice president of news and the Northwest regional editor.

The Idaho NewsGuild submitted the following letter to McClatchy leadership Monday afternoon, asking for Lords’ immediate reinstatement:

To Tony Hunter, McClatchy CEO; Kristin Roberts, Vice President of McClatchy News; and Stephanie Pedersen, Northwest Regional Editor:

The journalists of the Idaho NewsGuild are writing to formally protest the abrupt and inappropriate firing of editor Christina Lords.

Lords was fired Monday, Jan. 25, after publicly advocating for resources for her employees. In a Jan. 22 tweet, Lords described her frustration in being unable to secure access to Microsoft Excel for a new investigative journalist, while asking the community to subscribe to and support the Idaho Statesman.

Lords later deleted the tweet, but was terminated effective Monday. In a newsroom meeting, McClatchy executives refused to answer basic questions about Lords’ firing and the policies that informed the decision.

To fire an editor for advocating for resources and encouraging people to subscribe is a remarkably disappointing decision by McClatchy management. This is a devastating blow to the morale of a newsroom that is already chronically understaffed. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are struggling due to McClatchy’s refusal to fill open positions and provide necessary resources. How many more people is the Idaho Statesman willing to lose before McClatchy stops undermining our journalism?

Lords was a driving force behind several Statesman projects that received national acclaim, changed laws and won numerous awards. She has advocated for employees to pursue fellowships and investigative projects. She championed McClatchy’s push to grow subscribers, drive page views and increase revenue for the company. She is a fifth-generation Idahoan who is highly respected in our community.

This is unacceptable and has a chilling effect on McClatchy journalists who advocate for themselves, their newsrooms and their community. We call on the company to immediately reinstate Lords with full pay and benefits, that she receive a formal apology from McClatchy leadership and that the company review its social media and disciplinary policies. 


The Idaho NewsGuild

A unanimous vote for the Idaho News Guild

The journalists of the Idaho Statesman spoke with a unanimous voice Wednesday, voting 18-0 to to form a union. 

The Idaho News Guild represents all non-manager newsroom employees at the Idaho Statesman, including news and sports reporters, social media editors, a photographer, a columnist and clerks. The union will immediately begin to fight for fair wages, job security and improved benefits.

“We are fighting to preserve local news in Idaho,” union member Kate Talerico said. “We look forward to working with management toward a fair contract that ensures a strong future for the Statesman’s essential journalism.”

The election caps a two-month process to formalize the newsroom’s union. The Idaho News Guild first announced its intention to form a union on March 2 with unanimous support. The McClatchy Co., the Statesman’s parent company, refused to voluntarily recognize the union, creating the drawn-out process that saw two delays because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The vote was conducted via a mail ballot at the Denver regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. The victory authorized the Idaho News Guild as a unit of NewsGuild-CWA

For more information, visit

Idaho Statesman journalists announce union organizing campaign

The journalists of the Idaho Statesman announced plans Monday to unionize as the Idaho News Guild.

All of the Statesman’s eligible newsroom employees signed onto a mission statement signaling our intent to form a union. Organizers for the union presented that mission statement to Rusty Dodge, the Statesman’s publisher, and asked for voluntary recognition of the union from the McClatchy Co., the Statesman’s parent company.

If McClatchy does not voluntarily recognize the union, organizers are prepared to send cards to the National Labor Relations Board. In that case, the NLRB will hold a union election for eligible Idaho Statesman employees. That vote would take place in the next several weeks.

The Idaho News Guild will be represented by The NewsGuild, a sector of the Communications Workers of America (CWA). CWA has 700,000 members across the U.S. and Canada.

The union will be made up of 16 journalists, including news and sports reporters, a photographer, columnist and news clerk.

Workers at the Idaho Statesman are part of a wave in recent union organizing. The NewsGuild has organized newsrooms across the country, adding nearly 3,000 journalists to its ranks in the past two years. The NewsGuild already represents approximately 150 McClatchy employees at six publications, including the Miami Herald, the Sacramento Bee and the Lexington Herald-Leader. 

The Statesman’s journalists are forming a union with the goal to preserve Idaho news, ensure their ability to tell the community’s stories and give staff a seat at the table.

In recent years, corporate decisions have left the Statesman’s journalists with more responsibilities and fewer resources. Rampant turnover, pay disparities and rising healthcare costs have destabilized the newsroom. The staff has repeatedly faced layoffs, unpaid furloughs and consolidation. The newsroom today is about one-third the size it was in 2011 — and about half the size it was just three years ago.

The union campaign follows McClatchy’s filing of bankruptcy in February. The company’s largest creditor, a New Jersey-based hedge fund called Chatham Asset Management, will become its new owner. NewsGuild-CWA is one of seven members on McClatchy’s bankruptcy creditors committee.

“No one can predict the future,” said Michael Lycklama, a sports writer who has worked at the Statesman since 2014. “But one thing is certain. Without a strong union representing our newsroom, the Idaho Statesman will be weaker and less able to serve our community the news it deserves.”

The newsroom today is about one-third the size it was in 2011 — and about half the size it was just three years ago.

The Statesman’s union will advocate for a more stable newsroom — one that fosters professional and personal development. Journalists are pushing for pay equity, improved healthcare benefits and compensation that rewards experience. We know that our editors and managers want this for us, too.

“The journalists here at the Idaho Statesman are proud of our work, but we’ve long been demoralized by a series of unpaid furloughs, layoffs, stagnant pay and worsening benefits,” said reporter John Sowell, who has worked at the Statesman since 2013. “Getting summoned to the editor’s office or to an unscheduled staff meeting makes me wonder whether I’m getting laid off.”

Reporter Ruth Brown has been at the Statesman for three years and supports the Idaho News Guild.

“Our newsroom works every day to deliver news that is vital to our community, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” Brown said. “Forming a union is the best way to strengthen our newsroom by giving our journalists a voice.”

Reporters are available for interviews by emailing