Why should I join?
Joining a union is the only legally protected channel that allows us to bargain to improve our working conditions. It not only gives us a collective voice, but it does so with legal protection from any form of retaliation, including firing, denial of raise, denial of promotion, change in immigration status, and even a change in seating, if it can be proven to stem from anti-union animus. With strong support, we’ll be able to negotiate for improved working conditions in areas like layoff protections and severance, parental leave, immigration support, healthcare costs and coverage, salaries and annual cost of living expenses, diversity and inclusion, and more.
There are no union papers in the financial sector, right?
Wrong! The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Fortune, Law360, Money Magazine, and S&P Global are just some of the publications covering the financial sector that are represented by the NewsGuild.
How about newsrooms outside finance? Are they unionized?
The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Guardian, The Seattle Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and many others have been unionized for decades. More recently, 30+ publications including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Omaha World-Herald, Virginian Pilot, Capital Gazette, Buzzfeed, the Miami Herald, and others have formed Guild units.
What are the steps to forming a union?
There are two channels for achieving union recognition, or what is called certification.
The first and most direct mechanism is recognition, which we requested of Pageant Media this morning in our petition with a supermajority of our editorial staff indicating their intention to unionze. The employer can recognize us immediately, or ask that we set up a simple process to confirm majority support.
The second is the legal channel as facilitated by the National Labor Relations Board. It is a two-step process itself. The electronic authorization cards we signed have been transmitted to the NLRB as proof of our desire to unionize through a mail-in ballot election. The ballots will likely be sent out within 4 weeks, and we will have a result within 3 weeks of that date.
During the upcoming weeks, as we have discussed, employers are allowed to hold one on one and mandatory meetings but cannot say certain things, such as threats like,“If you form a union, there will be layoffs,” and, “If you form a union, we will make less money.” Our employer could attempt to divide us through a variety of tactics aimed at eroding our support. They could improve our conditions temporarily in the hopes of making us forget why we need a union in the first place. We’ve prepared for all possibilities beforehand, because all employers use these same tactics in one way or another. We will weather them together and ensure a strong election victory, whether through recognition or election. The balloting, as the authorization card, is confidential, and will never be seen by the company.
After a union is formed, what happens next?
We negotiate our first contract, or collective bargaining agreement. At the moment of certification of our union, all working conditions are frozen while we negotiate under status quo protections. We will elect a bargaining committee to represent the newsroom’s interests at the bargaining table, and make a detailed survey to fully understand everyone's workplace priorities.
Once bargaining begins, we will work together as a newsroom to achieve agreement with our employer on a strong contract. This process can take months or even more than a year. But in between, we have new rights, such as status quo, which means the company cannot change our conditions from where they were before the unionization, and good faith, which means the employer must bargain with us with the intent of reaching an agreement.. The more participation we have, the better the contract we will achieve for all of us.
Once negotiations conclude, every individual in our union will vote on the contract. The contract will need majority support to be ratified, which means we will need to have negotiated a strong contract that benefits everyone.
Is everyone in our office represented by the union?
Management—legally defined as someone with key decision-making authority over material workplace issues like hiring/firing, hours, and conditions of employment—is ineligible from joining a union.
Will I get fired if I participate?
That’s illegal, as is any act of discrimination or retaliation for support of (or opposition to) a union. Check out the National Labor Relations Act, which protects employees from retaliation for organizing. Yes, companies still do illegal things. But your colleagues, the NewsGuild, and the Guild’s attorneys have our backs. Plus, the more people that participate, the more everyone is protected. They can’t retaliate against us all!
Can they change my immigration status or transfer me to the UK office for joining a union?
No. Employers cannot discriminate against an employee for unionizing, full stop. That includes immigration issues.
What benefits do Guild members at other newspapers receive?
A majority of us have familiarized ourselves with what other newsrooms have achieved through unionization. Workplaces have gotten raises, just cause protections, severance, medical and family benefits, and more! Many TNG-CWA contracts are readily available online.
How can a union minimize the impact of layoffs?
Unions can bargain for a lot when it comes to layoffs, including requiring the company to give advance notice about how many people it plans to lay off, provide justifications for the layoffs (provide cause, like in the UK), and give reasonable severance packages. We can also negotiate what are called “voluntary layoffs,” which is when employees already planning to leave can volunteer to go to reduce the cuts to others.
How would unionization affect my salary?
In theory, we can negotiate for allin a collective bargaining agreement. As the collective voice for the newsroom, the union will advocate for whatever benefits our newsroom wants. Before proposing a contract, we'll take a detailed survey to understand everyone's priorities. Informally, we’ve talked to a big chunk of employees already and most say they’d like their pay to increase, at the very least to adjust for inflation and cost of living. Some would even like to see annual bonuses, which is common across the industry.
We know that unionized workplaces nationally are paid better than non-union, whether it's higher starting salaries, higher salaries for experienced employees, or annual cost-of-living increases. Yes, unions come with dues — the NewsGuild constitution sets them at about 1.38% of your salary — but those don’t come out of your paycheck until we successfully bargain a contract. So if through the union negotiations, we get a 5% annual salary increase, factoring in the NewGuild dues, the unionization effort would have resulted in net 3.62% annual raises for everyone.
And you should know: Unions do not stop you from negotiating a raise individually, nor do they prevent you from getting a merit-based raise. CBAs raise the floor for everyone but do not impose a ceiling on any individual.
When would I start paying dues?
There are no fees and we won't pay dues until our first contract is voted on and ratified, which is likely months from now. The dues are about 1.38% of salary. It's important for the contract to provide a net benefit to employees higher than the dues, otherwise nobody will vote for it, including you. That's why it's important for everybody to participate during bargaining to encourage the company to agree to a strong contract.
Will unionizing harm my relationship with my supervisor?
We don’t think so. Our union will be bargaining with Pageant Media, not individual managers. Moreover, our objective in organizing is to have a say in our working conditions so we can report, edit and produce the best journalism we can. In the end, that’s what our supervisors want, too.