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Springfield News-Leader Journalists Move To Form a Union


Employees at the Springfield News-Leader have taken the first steps toward establishing a union. 

The group is named the Springfield News Guild, according to a news release sent out by the group's organizing committee Monday.  All full-time staff members are filing cards with the government this week asking to establish a union, the release said.

Their goal is to collectively negotiate fair wages and benefits with Gannett, which owns the Springfield News-Leader. 

As advertising and readership models have changed over the decades, Gannett has slashed jobs across the country, resulting in layoffs of veteran journalists and major decision-making conducted far beyond the walls of local newsrooms.

Late last year, Gannett and GateHouse Media agreed to merge in yet another cost-cutting venture.

Local newsrooms move to unionize nationwide

The actions of the Springfield News-Leader’s workers follow a nationwide trend, according to Rick Edmonds from the Poynter Institute.  He said both smaller and larger newspapers are looking to organized labor as a way to maintain more power in a shifting media landscape.

“[The] Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, both with a long history as non-union newsrooms, were organized within the last two years,” Edmonds told KSMU.

According to U.S. labor laws, if at least 30 percent of workers sign cards or a petition saying they want to form a union, then the National Labor Relations Board will vote on the decision.

“Our local editors are excellent journalists and even better people, but they don’t control how many people we hire to cover the Ozarks or the amount of resources we have available to do our jobs.  Organizing as the Springfield News Guild is our way, as people who live and work here, to ensure we have a voice in those discussions for ourselves and for our community,” the Springfield News Guild organizing committee said in the release.

The Springfield News-Leader began as a weekly publication called The Springfield Leader two years after the Civil War ended, according to the newspaper’s website.  

As News Director, Jennifer oversees news gathering and production for KSMU-Ozarks Public Radio; in her role as Content Coordinator, she makes sure all programs on KSMU, including those produced locally, nationally, and internationally, flow seamlessly over the air. She trains the student reporters and announcers and hosts the monthly program Engaging the Community. Follow her on Twitter @jennwritesmoore.