We just delivered our united mission statement to unionize. 🤙🏽👌🏽✊🏽#supportlocalnews #newsmatters #crosscutunion follow us @Crosscut_Union @CWAUnion @PacNWGuild @news_guild pic.twitter.com/qaBaxm4pVN
— Agueda “La Chona” Pacheco (@AguedaPachecOH) July 8, 2019
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.
Congratulations to the solid journalists at @Crosscut and @KCTS9 for striving to protect the future of their newsroom. The vital coverage they bring to Seattle and Washington makes us all better #Solidarity https://t.co/tDcC0DmjrM pic.twitter.com/owPDULZjRD
— Neal Morton (@nealtmorton) July 8, 2019
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.
UPDATE 6:25 PM:
Just got this from @Crosscut/@KCTS9 management. We’re disappointed in our organization’s decision not to recognize our union, despite nearly 90% of eligible employees signing onto the effort. We will hold a union election soon and have the numbers and drive to win. #CrosscutUnion pic.twitter.com/E4Dk4zU9qT— Crosscut Union (@Crosscut_Union) July 9, 2019
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.