Labor & Unionization

NewsGuild wrote that 2021 was a record year: More workers joined NewsGuild in 2021 than in any year stretching back decades. What are these unions fighting for — and how effective are they?

Labor unions in local news aren't new — so what's causing this surge in support? From our research, labor unions are demanding a voice, a break and a guaranteed heads-up.

Read more from CISLM Director Erica Perel about this project, and our mission to create a more sustainable future for all journalists.

  • Local newsrooms make up about half of the media organizations where workers have unionized in the past five years.
  • More than 40% of newsrooms where workers organized a union changed hands in the year before or the year after unionizing.
  • Local newsroom unions in right-to-work states have been more successful in gaining representation than local newsroom unions in union-friendly states.
  • 108 news unions have successfully been recognized from January 2017 to February 2022
  • About 29% of local news unions have successfully negotiated a contract since forming in the past five years.
  • Unionization provides a great sense of community for journalists as well as small guaranteed raises and better HR protections, but it can be challenging to negotiate a contract and middle management is often left unprotected.

Further reporting

WHQR follows WFAE’s lead to become second unionized public radio station in the Carolinas

By Caitlyn Yaede | Jun 5, 2023

On May 15, the staff of Wilmington-based WHQR followed the lead of colleagues at WFAE to become the second NPR member station in North Carolina to express interest in forming a union.

From the director: Local news jobs should be sustainable, too

By Erica Perel | May 2, 2022

Our vision is this: To help build a more equitable and sustainable future for local news, the journalists who make it and the communities that need it.

Precarious conditions in local news sparks collective action

By Sarah Vassello | May 2, 2022

How often are unionized local news journalists seeing wins? CISLM looked at unionization in the local news field from a solutions-style lens to investigate the frequency and type of successes and limitations. (Photo by Scott Yates)

Charlotte Observer becomes fourth McClatchy-owned newspaper to unionize in Carolinas

By Sarah Vassello | Mar 16, 2022

The Charlotte Observer, the largest newspaper by circulation in North Carolina, unionized in late February, with voluntary recognition from leadership coming in less than a week later.