After 71-5 vote Omaha World-Herald is set to become the first unionized newsroom in Nebraska

A Omaha World-Herald Guild pin adorns the shirt of Chris Burbach. Photo by Maria Nevada.

Jessica Wade

With a vote of 71 to 5, the Omaha World-Herald newsroom is set to become the first unionized newsroom in Nebraska. No challenge ballots were cast.

Negotiations toward a first contract with the paper’s owner, Omaha-based BH Media Group, are expected to begin in coming months.

In the minutes leading up to the announcement of the Omaha World-Herald union vote results, members of the newsroom spoke with the Gateway on the events leading up to the vote and their hopes for the future.

Features writer Micah Mertes. Photo by Maria Nevada.

“Doing this, I don’t think anyone has any illusions that this will solve everything. Unfortunately, I think the newsroom will probably continue to shrink. My hope is that as it continues to shrink we have just a little more say in that and also hopefully maybe slow the process down a little bit. I think we all in a way want the same thing. We all want to certainty that we’ll have a job tomorrow.” – Micah Mertes

Suburban reporter Hailey Konnath. Photo by Maria Nevada/the Gateway

“I’m really excited to see this actually happening. I was one of four people who sat down in early July at a booth at Danny’s and we were like quietly, ‘let’s unionize, but how?’ It’s really really exciting to see it come to a place where we are voting and optimistic about it.” – Hailey Konnath

Chris Burbach. Photo by Maria Nevada

“I think there’s sort of a renewed sense of optimism, and we have a very collegial relationship with managers, and we will make this work together because we have a common goal.” – Chris Burbach

Henry Cordes. Photo by Maria Nevada.

“A year ago we were managed by Berkshire and we generally thought that was pretty good, but then everything changed in June when Mr. Buffett turned us over to Lee Enterprises and what you saw for the first time was that for the first time in the World-Herald’s history we were managed by people outside Omaha… By forming this union we can give Omaha a voice.” – Henry Cordes