By a vote of 7 to 5, journalists at the nonprofit news website The Bay Citizen have decided to affiliate with the Pacific Media Workers Guild, Local 39521 of The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America.
The union reports that 14 votes were cast, but that two of the ballots are being challenged. The remaining ballot count resulted in a 7-5 win to form the union. The two challenged votes have not been opened, however the Guild said that whether these two voters are included in the unit or not, the concluding tally will remain in favor of forming a unit. The Guild is asking the NLRB to count all votes cast.
The majority of the organization’s editorial staff signed union cards seeking to be represented by the Guild on May 26, the one-year anniversary of The Bay Citizen’s launch. Voting was conducted June 27 at The Bay Citizen’s San Francisco headquarters and by mail-in ballot. NLRB officials counted the votes on July 12.
“We believe The Bay Citizen, as one of the pioneering exponents of new civic journalism, should also be a leading example in the area of workplace democracy,” The Bay Citizen’s editorial staff wrote in a letter to TBC President and CEO Lisa Frazier ahead of filing cards with the National Labor Relations Board.
Support came from unionized journalists at The New York Times and KGO radio, which have agreements to obtain local news content from The Bay Citizen.
A statement from the Guild said, “Bay Citizen staff members are committed to the success of the organization and expect their new Guild unit to work in partnership with management to create a contract appropriate for their nonprofit startup.”