Hartford, Conn. - Journalists of the award-winning Hartford Courant took a major step Monday toward forming a union, the Hartford Courant Guild, part of The NewsGuild-CWA.
Organizers for the union filed a petition for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board and also requested voluntary recognition from Tribune Publishing, the paper’s parent company.
Members of the union organizing committee presented local management with the request for voluntary recognition after more than 75 percent of eligible staffers signed cards signaling their desire to be represented by the Hartford Courant Guild. The group will become a unit of the Providence Newspaper Guild, a local chapter of The NewsGuild-CWA, the nation’s largest union for journalists and other news industry employees.
The Hartford Courant Guild will cover approximately 60 reporters, editors, and photographers.
Kathleen McWilliams, who has been a Courant reporter for three years, said, “In my short time in the newsroom, I've seen our staff decimated and demoralized by buyouts and layoffs. I've watched our workloads increase without commensurate compensation and I’ve grown deeply concerned as my colleagues and I struggle to maintain the quality of our publication while corporate managers take home $5 million bonuses.
“It has become apparent that it is time for our newsroom to stand united and demand changes that will not only benefit our workers, but our readers, who rely on us to bring them the news."
Dominic Amore, a Courant reporter for more than three decades, said newsroom employees are keenly aware of the paper’s 254-year history and its special role covering Connecticut and the state’s capital region.
“It is because we care so deeply that we’ve taken this step. We hope to move forward with a relationship based on mutual trust and respect and to secure the necessary tools to succeed.”
In a mission statement distributed throughout the newsroom Monday morning and presented to local management, employees wrote, “We are proud to create the award-winning journalism our readers count on. Our work holds our leaders accountable, speaks for those who are most vulnerable, and tells the stories of our many communities.”
“This mission has grown harder with each passing day. Declining revenues and decisions by corporate managers who have little regard for or knowledge of our communities and the work we do to serve them — only translate to deepening cuts to our resources and standards…
“We’ve practiced patience and waited for change. Now, we aim to do our part to guarantee that the high-quality, responsible and independent journalism the Courant has always stood for survives and remains a healthy, vibrant force in our community.”
Patrick Raycraft, a visual journalist who has worked at the paper for more than 20 years, said, “This is an empowering step forward at the Courant in these challenging times for the entire journalist community. I envision keener dialogue, greater diversity and a renewed sense of purpose in our newsroom. And it will benefit our dedicated Courant subscribers who we serve every day.”
The union campaign at the Courant is part of an upsurge in NewsGuild organizing drives in newsrooms across the country — including recent victories at New York Magazine (January 2019), The Los Angeles Times (January 2018), The Chicago Tribune (May 2018), the Daily Hampshire Gazette (December 2018) and Maryland’s Capital Gazette (December 2018).