Two months after reporters at the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald formed a union, those at another of the city’s largest newspapers announced the same intention.
The news staff at the Miami New Times said they unionized Tuesday by walking into the newspaper’s Wynwood offices wearing red shirts with “NewsGuild” printed on the front. The paper is owned by Voice Media Group, which has alternative newspapers in several cities including Phoenix, Denver and Dallas, as well as digital advertising agencies in several other places. The news staff at the Phoenix New Times announced its intention to unionize as well.
The groups, calling themselves Voice Media Guild, posted their first tweets today. “By unionizing, we hope to gain better and more equitable pay and benefits, layoff protections and a stronger voice in our own newsrooms,” said the VMG Guild account on Twitter.
Alternative newspapers provide news and opinion coverage in a style that is different than that of daily newspapers — with more opinion and flamboyant rhetoric.
Alt-weeklies are a dying breed. So, we’re banding together to preserve what’s left. #VMGGuild
— VMG Guild 🖇 (@VMGGuild) January 21, 2020
Jerry Iannelli, a writer and spokesperson for the unionization effort, said some staff members at the New Times had been discussing unionizing for about a year — though they only formally announced their intention on Tuesday. New Times also runs another website, New Times Broward Palm Beach, that has no full-time employees. Part-timers can still join the union, said Iannelli.
Staff positions have been cut at the paper — though not recently and not nearly as much as at the Herald. The most recent position to be trimmed from full to part-time was that of art director, which is key to the paper’s look. That was well over a year ago.
“We do the work and we want a seat at the table when decisions are made,” said Iannelli.
Some other alternative weeklies that had unions, such as New York’s Village Voice, are no longer published. Others, such as LA Weekly, continue to operate, but in stripped-down fashion.
The next step is up to management, Iannelli said. Senior editors and CEO Scott Tobias can accept the union. If they don’t, New Times employees can file with the National Labor Relations Board and schedule a vote to formalize the union later this year.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that part-time employees in Broward might join the union.