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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 idahonewsguild.org.

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 idahonewsguild@gmail.com.

Our mission

We, the journalists of the Idaho Statesman, are coming together to form a union with the goal to preserve Idaho news, tell the stories of our communities and give our staff a seat at the table.

The Idaho Statesman is a vital institution. We’ve been serving our readers since before Idaho became a state, and we will continue to serve them as our state grows.

When Idaho troops deployed to Iraq, we were there. When wildfires erupted across the state, we were there. When Boise State became a national football powerhouse, we were there. We take enormous pride in our role as a connector and watchdog for our community.

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

To protect the Idaho Statesman and its mission, we must protect the journalists who shape it every day. We must ensure the reporters who cover our community can afford to make it their home.

We believe in a newsroom that fosters professional and personal development. We believe in a career that can support a family. We believe in a newsroom that values employees’ skills and their depth of knowledge. We believe in retaining talent and rewarding professional achievement.

A union is necessary to sustain a strong, vibrant Idaho Statesman for years to come. We are asking the Statesman’s parent company, McClatchy, to recognize the NewsGuild-CWA as our representative.

We have given a voice to the Treasure Valley community. We deserve a voice, too.

Signed,
Nicole Blanchard
Ruth Brown
Ximena Bustillo
Ron Counts
Michael Deeds
Audrey Dutton
Nicole Foy
Gage Hanson
Hayley Harding
Michelle Jenkins
Michael Lycklama
Darin Oswald
Rachel Roberts
Cynthia Sewell
John Sowell
Kate Talerico