In December of 2019, newsroom employees at the Springfield News-Leader signed authorization cards that triggered an NLRB election for union representation. Their efforts were successful and, after meetings to discuss and craft contract proposals, the United Media Guild began bargaining with News-Leader and Gannett officials.
First contracts always take longer than normal and, in the case of the Springfield News-Leader, the process was a long and arduous one, complicated by many factors. However, yesterday afternoon, after 29 months of bargaining, the UMG and the News-Leader reached a Tentative Agreement. It is a two-year agreement. We couldn’t have done this without our SN-L unit chair, Claudette Riley and the many other hardworking journalists there in Springfield who put their collective shoulders to the wheel and I need to acknowledge their editor, Amos Bridges, for his practical and honest approach to the process, as well.
These are dire times for newspapers, particularly ones with a corporate owner undergoing serious financial challenges. It’s important to note that a first contract doesn’t mean everything is now suddenly fine. But it does mean that there is a system in place – one that newsroom employees had a voice in creating and one that makes sense – should cuts continue. It also means, for the first time, that there are other safeguards, like salary minimums, in place (not as high as we preferred, tbh, but they are there and they will be improved upon – like all other first contracts – when we return to the table to bargain the next contract). There is good language on discipline, grievance and arbitration, anti-discrimination and other things. But I wanted to let y’all know that our sisters and brothers down in Springfield, Mo have gotten it done! (And I particularly wanted to thank Claudette for all her hard work.)