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Idaho Statesman journalists announce plans to unionize

Journalists at a major daily newspaper in Idaho announced plans to unionize on Monday.

All of the eligible newsroom employees at the Idaho Statesman in Boise signed onto the plan to form the Idaho News Guild, according to a prepared statement sent out by the group. They asked the newspaper’s owner, McClatchy Co., to voluntarily recognize the union.

“The Statesman’s journalists are forming a union with the goal to preserve Idaho news, ensure their ability to tell the community’s stories and give staff a seat at the table,” the group wrote in the prepared statement.

If McClatchy Co. declines to recognize the union, the group will reach out to the National Labor Relations Board, which will hold a union election for eligible employees sometime in the next several weeks.

The newspaper’s publisher, Rusty Dodge, was traveling and couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. In an email, McClatchy spokeswoman Jeanne Segal said the company was reviewing the letter from the journalists.

“We appreciate the right of our journalists to be represented by the News Guild-CWA and will consider their request and respond shortly,” she wrote.

Many news organizations across the United States have unionized in recent years, as the industry continues to face declining profits, ownership changes and layoffs. McClatchy Co., facing the same struggles, filed bankruptcy in February. Idaho Statesman employees have faced furloughs, layoffs and a shrinking newsroom, which now has about one-third the staffers it had in 2011, according to the group.

Several McClatchy newspapers are already unionized, including the Sacramento Bee and the Miami Herald, and the NewsGuild-CWA is one of seven members on the bankruptcy’s creditors committee. McClatchy’s proposed bankruptcy plan calls for it to become a private business owned by it’s largest creditor, the New Jersey-based hedge fund Chatham Asset Management.

“Our newsroom works every day to deliver news that is vital to our community, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” said reporter Ruth Brown, who has worked at the Idaho Statesman for three years. “Forming a union is the best way to strengthen our newsroom by giving our journalists a voice.”

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