Region 19 of the National Labor Relations Board sides with Guild over illegally withheld salary minimums

Region 19 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced last week that it found merit to the Washington State NewsGuild’s charge that the McClatchy Company illegally withheld long overdue raises to recently unionized journalists.

The Washington State NewsGuild filed an unfair labor practice complaint on April 6 charging the McClatchy company with wrongfully refusing to include Washington employees in its rollout of a company-wide wage floor increase after employees announced their intent to unionize on Dec. 16, 2020. Those charges alleged McClatchy had unlawfully interfered with employees’ exercise of protected rights under the National Labor Relations Act and retaliated against employees for engaging in protected activity.

Effective March 1, the McClatchy company announced new salary floors of $42,000 and $45,000 for its journalists, depending on where they work.

While we had hoped that our parent company would willingly invest in its employees and not withhold these much needed raises during a pandemic, we are glad to see the NLRB see merit in our position. An NLRB Board Agent will now begin negotiating a settlement on the Guild’s behalf so employees who should have seen wages increase under the new salary minimums will receive their raises at long last, as well as back pay for what they should have been paid all along. If the company does not reach a settlement agreement with Region 19, the Region will schedule a hearing with an administrative law judge to adjudicate the charges.

This is a sign that our unionization efforts can and will work to improve the working conditions of our members. We will soon enter into negotiations with McClatchy to finally ensure our employees are given the support they need to continue serving our communities. 

When our parent company said the cost of living was increasing while wages were not, they were right. That made it all the more disappointing that, despite acknowledging the challenges facing Washington journalists, McClatchy refused to support us. They refused to extend the new pay minimums offered to non-union publications to our members after fighting our request for recognition, and continue to refuse to extend the new salary minimums to unionized newspapers across the country.

Though we are prepared to continue to do whatever it takes to ensure local journalism can be preserved in our communities, it should not take months of work and organizing to get the bare minimum: a salary floor that reflects the cost of living. 

The process of getting our members what they are owed will likely take a few more weeks.  We remain confident in the strength of our organizing efforts and the commitment of our journalists to fight to build a future for robust journalism in our communities.