Precarious conditions in local news sparks collective action (page 3)

Show me the money: Contract negotiations

To what degree are the increased number of unions improving working conditions for local journalists? The first step after union representation is negotiating a contract.

Out of the 108 local news outlets that successfully unionized since 2017, about 29 percent of those had successfully negotiated contracts through 26 unions, and an additional outlet currently has a tentative agreement in place. It’s common for local news outlets with the same owner to organize together in a union.

Owner News unions  Unions with contracts
Gannett 13 0
Digital First Media 9 0
McClatchy 9 1
Lee Enterprises 8 6 (plus one tentative; one news organization was shuttered in response to unionization)

CISLM analyzed the first successfully negotiated, public contracts from unions that were successfully recognized from January 2017 to February 2022.

Since 2017, there have been no contracts successfully negotiated between newly formed unions and the two largest U.S. newspaper chain owners, Gannett and Digital First Media.

The South Carolina-based Packet/Gazette Guild had its contract approved in March 2022, the first McClatchy-based contract approval in the past five years. The One Herald Guild in Miami, credited with kickstarting a wave of McClatchy unionization drives, recently conducted a 24-hour walkout on April 1 to demand a fair contract. 

According to a review of contract timelines, it takes about two years for a contract to be successfully negotiated: 69% of units recognized in 2018 have contracts; about 54% of units recognized in 2019 have contracts; and 27% of units recognized in 2020 have contracts. 

Next chapter

"Precarious conditions in local news sparks collective action" table of contents

  1. Precarious conditions in local news sparks collective action
  2. A state of the unions
  3. Show me the money: Contract negotiations
  4. Wins & Improvements
  5. Challenges ahead
  6. Toward the future