The newsroom staff of the Omaha World-Herald announced this morning their intent to form a union, the Omaha World-Herald Guild.
In a press release from The NewsGuild-CWA, an organizing consultant, multiple staff members shared their reasoning.
“Everyone understands that this is a difficult and potentially perilous period for American newspapers and The World-Herald, too,” said Matthew Hansen, a columnist and 12-year World-Herald veteran. “Now more than ever, The World-Herald’s employees need a seat at the table and a say in what our future looks like.”
According to the release, 75 percent of the staffers working as reporters, copy editors, designers and photographers signed cards stating their support of being represented by The NewsGuild-CWA.
From this point, the newsroom’s next step is to wait for an NLRB-monitored election by World-Herald staff members in the next 20 to 40 days unless the newspaper’s owner, the Omaha-based BH Media Group, voluntarily recognizes The NewsGuild as the workers’ union.
In the press release, Erin Grace, a columnist with 20 years of experience at the paper, said The World-Herald always has been locally owned, locally managed and locally produced “by people who know Omaha inside and out. The decision to outsource the newspaper’s management threatens our newspaper’s ‘Omaha DNA.’ So it is out of deep affection for Omaha, and a fervent belief in the role a strong local newspaper plays, that we are uniting behind this singular cause: Safeguarding the Omaha World-Herald.”
Also according to the press release, the Guild hopes to protect jobs and salaries, as their new management company, Lee Enterprises, has “shown the door to many talented journalists.”
If the unionization is successful, the Omaha World-Herald would become the first newspaper in Nebraska to have a unionized newsroom.