The editorial staff of Cascade Public Media, which includes both the online newspaper Crosscut and the local PBS affiliate, KCTS 9, want a union. The non-profit is one of the few local media companies that has recently grown but the company has also "struggled to hire and retain experienced talent, and has suffered from a high rate of turnover," according to Jennifer Dev, a member of the union’s organizing committee.

A majority of the editorial staff have now called for Cascade Public Media's management to voluntarily recognize their union. Lilly Fowler, a staff reporter at Crosscut, said they sent their request to management Monday morning but have not yet heard a response.

"We hope that management will voluntarily recognize us," Fowler said. "That would speed up things. We would be able to then immediately start working on a contract."

The proposed union already has a twitter handle, @Crosscut_Union, and nearly 90 percent of the eligible employees voted for recognition from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild, Local 37082, which is a local affiliate of the national union, NewsGuild-CWA, according to a news release from the union organizers. Fowler said the management has until the end of the month to voluntarily recognize the union. If they refuse to voluntarily recognize the union, the organizers would then take another official vote at the end of the month, which could force the management to recognize the union.

"The [second] vote would mean that if there is a majority who want the union then legally they would have to recognize us," Fowler said.

Crosscut and KCTS 9 merged together in late 2015, along with a separate website, What's Good 206, under the umbrella non-profit Cascade Public Media. KCTS 9 has been on the air since 1954. Crosscut was created in 2007.

Since the merger, Cascade Public Media has grown its newsroom with more reporters, video editors, photographers, and newsletter experts. Fowler said this expansion has created some internal tensions.

"We’re at a good place, we’ve grown a lot," Fowler said, "but the melding of the two organizations has been a work in process and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t awkward at times."

Fowler said the prospective union members thought this was a good time to establish the union "before we push forward as an organization," Fowler said. "We want to measure that we don’t grow at a speed that we’re not able to maintain and treat everyone well and make sure folks have an equitable workplace."

Fowler declined to get into the details of the union's demands.

"We’re trying not to get into specifics now since we haven’t even started negotiating a contract. I’ll just say we are in general looking for a seat at the table to decide some key aspects of the workplace," Fowler said.

The Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild also represents employees at the Seattle Times. The national union, NewsGuild-CWA, represents over 20,000 journalists across the country.


Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated the amount of support the union has received. The union has received nearly 90 percent support from eligible members, not over 90 percent as was earlier reported.