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Dallas Morning News employees form union in 'right-to-work' Texas

Dallas Morning News employees form union in 'right-to-work' Texas

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A "print" newspaper, circa the '80s. Photo by Jon S

Employees at Dallas' major newspaper have formed a union: A combination of 100 employees of the Dallas Morning News and sister publication Al Día Dallas have formed a union called the Dallas News Guild, part of The NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America (CWA).

If such an action were to come to pass, it would make the Dallas Morning News the first union newsroom in Texas, a right-to-work state.

The guild will cover more than 100 journalists across all departments of the newsroom, which they say is a majority, meaning they currently have less than 200 journalists total.

The full list of names is here, and includes many younger employees, a couple of grizzled older employees, and some conspicuous absences.

Their statement says that they understand the industry is in turmoil, but that it has resulted in "no-raise promotions, increased work without increased pay, and staffing that has been cut to the bone. We seek to work with management to build a more stable and secure environment so that local journalism can thrive."

Grievances include the fact that the newspaper didn't distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees quickly enough, which exposed them to people as well as tear gas while they were covering news stories — resources that they say were provided to other local news outlets.

Staffers were also not offered the chance to get virus testing despite being assigned stories that could expose them to COVID-19.

Other newspaper staffs that have unionized in recent years include the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. In May, the Los Angeles Times Guild reached a deal to avoid more than 80 layoffs by taking a 20 percent reduction in work schedule and salary from May 10 to August 1.

The DMN has batted down previous union efforts. According to Texas Monthly, Robert Decherd, who is currently chairman/president/CEO at A.H. Belo, fought off a pressman's strike in 1974. When the pressmen asked for their jobs back, the News had already replaced them.

Decherd did not respond to a request for comment.

According to their release, organizers have requested recognition from A.H. Belo, the newspaper's parent company. Recognizing the union would set the stage for contract negotiations between A.H. Belo and the newsroom staff.

Some but not all newspapers have succeeded in forming unions. Journalists in newsrooms owned by Gannett, the largest newspaper owner in the U.S., initially faced delays to hold a vote, according to CNN.