From the SF Bay Area Observer comes the news that journalists at The Bay Citizen will affiliate with the Pacific Media Workers Guild, Local 39521 of The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America.
Perhaps things aren’t all locked down yet, but the MWG was confident enough to issue a press release this AM, so that’s good enough for me.
All the deets, below.
“Bay Citizen becomes first start-up news website to organize. New model in journalism leads way in workplace democracy
20 Jul 2011
Media Workers Guild
The Bay Citizen Becomes First Start-Up News Website to Unionize
New model in journalism leads way in workplace democracy
San Francisco, July 20, 2011 – Journalists at the nonprofit news website The Bay Citizen have voted to affiliate with the Pacific Media Workers Guild, Local 39521 of The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America.
“We believe The Bay Citizen, as one of the pioneering exponents of new civic journalism, should also be a leading example in the area of workplace democracy,” The Bay Citizen’s editorial staff wrote in a letter to TBC President and CEO Lisa Frazier ahead of filing cards with the National Labor Relations Board.
The majority of the organization’s editorial staff signed union cards seeking to be represented by the Guild on May 26th, the one-year anniversary of The Bay Citizen’s launch. Voting was conducted June 27 at The Bay Citizen’s San Francisco headquarters and by mail-in ballot. NLRB officials counted the votes on Tuesday, July 12.
Two votes out of the 14 cast are being challenged. The remaining ballot count resulted in a 7-5 win to form the union. The two challenged votes have not been opened, however the Guild is certain that whether these two voters are included in the unit or not, the concluding tally will remain in favor of forming a unit. The Guild is asking the NLRB to count all votes cast.
Bernie Lunzer, international president of The Newspaper Guild in Washington, D.C., said the result marks an historic advance for media workers, as traditional newsrooms shrink and the industry struggles to find new models to stay competitive in the online era.
“The future of quality journalism depends on reporters and editors shaping the vision of innovative new media organizations. By voting to be represented by the Guild, employees at The Bay Citizen have given themselves this voice,” Lunzer said.
Support came from unionized journalists at The New York Times and KGO radio, which have agreements to obtain local news content from The Bay Citizen.
“For more than a year, journalists from The Bay Citizen have provided important coverage for the pages and website of The New York Times, and these talented journalists are an asset to the Guild at an important time, ” wrote Grant Glickson, New York Times Staff Assistant and Unit Chairperson.
Bay Citizen staff members are committed to the success of the organization and expect their new Guild unit to work in partnership with management to create a contract appropriate for their nonprofit startup.
The Bay Citizen was founded in 2010 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to fact-based, independent reporting on civic and community issues in the San Francisco Bay Area. Its newsroom of award-winning journalists covers Bay Area civic and cultural news topics that are under-reported today. TBC also partners widely with independent media organizations and produces the Bay Area pages of the The New York Times.
The Bay Citizen unit joins one of the premier affiliates of TNG-CWA. Formed after a series of recent mergers, the San Francisco-based Pacific Media Workers Guild (known as the California Media Workers Guild until a name change in January) represents about 2,000 news workers, freelancers, court interpreters and union staffs throughout California and Hawaii. News units include the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Bay Area News Group-East Bay, Bay City News Service, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Sacramento Bee, Fresno Bee, Modesto Bee, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Hawaii Herald-Tribune and Maui News. The Guild also includes the California Federation of Interpreters, print shops and union staffs at AFSCME Local 3299, the ILWU and California Labor Federation.”