NORFOLK, Va. – The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press announced Tuesday that their newsrooms plan to unionize together as the Tidewater Media Guild.
Reporters, photographers, copy editors, designers and editorial assistants at the newspapers have begun signing cards authorizing union representation by The NewsGuild, a sector of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) that has 700,000 members in the U.S. and Canada.
Both The Pilot and the Daily Press are owned by parent company Tronc.
As of Tuesday, more than 75 percent of the newsrooms’ eligible editorial staff supported the effort and signed union authorization cards; more are expected to sign cards throughout the day.
The efforts were announced on the same day management implemented a reorganization of the newspapers that effectively combines the daily operations of the two newsrooms. The union campaign comes in the midst of reports that the company is considering an offer to sell its newspapers to a private equity firm.
“We’re taking this step to give our newsroom a seat at the table with whoever our owners may be,” said Virginian-Pilot and Tidewater Media Guild organizing committee member Brock Vergakis. “Without a contract, we’re guaranteed nothing. In these uncertain times, a union is the best way to ensure fair compensation and a work environment that will help stem an exodus of talented journalists who move elsewhere in search of better pay and job security. When talented journalists leave, the communities they serve also suffer.”
In May, Tronc bought The Virginian-Pilot for $34 million. It has owned the Daily Press since 1986. Both newspapers have served the Hampton Roads community for more than 100 years.
Journalists believe unionizing will allow the papers to produce the best journalism possible. They say doing so will help them meet their goals, which include wage equity, fair hiring practices and diversity.
An organizing committee of 36 Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press journalists started the efforts to unionize. The committee sent copies of the guild’s mission statement in a letter to colleagues on Tuesday.
Click here for more information on the Tidewater Media Guild.