A “strong majority” of newsroom workers at the Contra Costa Times and other papers that are part of Dean Singleton’s Bay Area News Group-East Bay have signed cards indicating they want to be represented by the Guild, according to union organizers.
Organizers didn’t give an exact number of those signing cards in the 250-person bargaining unit.
“We are well above the 50 percent plus one vote needed to win a secret-ballot election. We waited to file until our margin got big enough that we knew we would win,” organizer Sara Steffens said in an e-mail to the Press Club.
“The former Contra Costa Newspapers have always been non-union, so this is a really big step for everyone here,” said Steffens, a CC Times reporter.
Management has said that it will not recognize the union based on a counting of cards, so an election with secret ballots will take place this summer, the statement said. Here’s the complete statement issued today by Steffens and fellow reporter Karl Fischer, who are leading the unionization effort:
- OAKLAND — Journalists leading a guild organizing effort at the Bay Area’s largest newspaper chain petitioned the National Labor Relations Board for formal recognition as a union today.
A strong majority of newsroom workers employed by Bay Area News Group-East Bay (BANG-EB) signed guild authorization cards in recent weeks. The organizing campaign’s leaders submitted those cards and other paperwork at the NLRB office in downtown Oakland.
“I’m incredibly proud to be part of our newsrooms today,” said Steffens, an award-winning reporter at The Contra Costa Times and a co-chair of the campaign. “It’s heartening to see so many of us come together, during these turbulent times in our industry, saying ‘We deserve a seat at the table.’ Tough decisions need to be made, but we want to be part of building our future.”
About 250 guild-eligible employees work at the chain’s publications, which are owned by Denver–based MediaNews Group and include nearly every daily newspaper that circulates in the Bay Area. Those signing guild cards seek representation by the Northern California Media Workers Guild, a local of The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America.
A separate Guild local already represents MediaNews employees at The San Jose Mercury-News.
Last August, MediaNews merged the former ANG Newspapers, which included the Oakland Tribune and four other dailies, with the non-union Contra Costa Newspapers. The shift allowed the company to dissolve a 20-year-old guild bargaining unit that represented ANG and end in-progress contract talks with workers.
In response, journalists from across the newly consolidated East Bay chain have formed a new union, dubbing their campaign “One Big BANG: One Guild Universe.”
Because BANG-EB management has already stated that it would not recognize the union based on a simple counting of the cards, the NLRB will likely oversee a secret-ballot polling of workers this summer to ensure most support the guild.
“A strong majority has spoken. We must work together more actively to solve the problems facing our company and our industry,” said Richmond police reporter Karl Fischer, a co-chair of the organizing committee. “We can help to make our papers both excellent and efficient. We know our managers share those goals.”
More details of the organizing campaign can be found on the campaign’s Web site: http://onebigbang.org.