Writers organize unions to save stripped down newsrooms

In recent decades, the news industry has drastically changed, as companies slashed payroll and entire publications have disappeared. Unions and workers have taken notice and are taking action.

Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild (WBNG) President Fatima Hussein joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss the labor movement in the news industry. She explained who the WBNG represents, why newspapers have shrunk and more.

Working in a union shop

Hussein said working in a non-union shop can be hostile. Workers who unionize see instant improvements such as better pay, a better benefits package, job security, improved working environment and more.

She encouraged listeners to unionize if they face troubles in the workplace, especially in the news industry.

What is the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild?

The WBNG is one of the largest NewsGuild locals in the country, forging alliances with publications such as InTheseTimes and The Washington Post. They also work with a number of nonprofit organizations and local news organizations.

Hussein said their union consists of 40 units representing nonprofit staff, news writers and other news outlet employees. The WBNG expects to expand as interest and enthusiasm for unions increase. She added that they will not slow down when it comes to organizing workers.

What happened to newsrooms?

The news industry used to be an entire production with large newsrooms full of writers, photographers, editors, designers and other employees. Today, many American newsrooms have been gutted and left with only a handful of full-time employees.

Hussein said massive layoffs have occurred at newspapers throughout the country. Hedge funds have purchased smaller newspapers and cut costs through layoffs, which diminish the final product. A union may be able to protect these workers, but in many areas, the damage has been inflicted already.

It is important to protect the future of journalism, by protecting workers. The industry continues to be one where workers are constantly fearful of losing their jobs. Hussein said a union can restore confidence in a paper, for both workers and readers.


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