Note: Jenny submitted this letter to the Gazette. It has not been published as of this posting.
To the Editor :
I am writing in support of the recently formed Pioneer Valley NewsGuild, a group of employees from the Daily Hampshire Gazette and the Valley Advocate who are seeking to form a union.
Sixteen years ago I was part of a similar organizing team that sought to establish a union at a local non-profit health care agency. The vote that was subsequently held was overwhelmingly in favor of the union, and I have been a proud member of SEIU Local 509 since 2002.
I want to affirm to the community that I feel that this is one of the best things I have done as part of my career as a health professional. For me, having a voice and a seat at the table where decisions are made that directly effect my life, and those of my fellow workers, is a fundamental human right. That is why having a union that meets regularly in dialogue with management about wages, benefits and working conditions is essential to the health of an organization.
Is it contentious? Yes! Adversarial? Certainly! But I would offer my opinion, born out of my own experience, that the agency I work for has grown and thrived, and is, in fact, stronger than ever, and that the union has played a key role in this
For the thirty years that I have lived in the Pioneer Valley I have been an avid reader of the Daily Hampshire Gazette, and, at times, a contributor of opinion pieces and letters to the Editor, such as this!
We have had, and continue to have, amazingly talented and creative people working at our 'local ' paper, a fact not unrecognized with the award to the Daily Hampshire Gazette of New England Newspaper of the Year in 2017. I want to offer solidarity and encouragement to all of them as they approach the December 12th vote on forming a union.
Yours Sincerely ,
I am writing in support of The Gazette and Valley Advocate workers’ effort to form a union. I strongly urge management to act swiftly and recognize the Pioneer Valley NewsGuild.
The seeds of PV NewsGuild were planted last year in the wake of a scandal around gender pay disparity. Through banding together, employees were able to convince management to institute a transparent pay-scale, which is now presented to every new employee. From there, employees began talking about their work-related grievances and started to clandestinely build a democratic union from the ground up, believing it to be the best way to improve working conditions. Now the union is public and the ball is in management’s court.
Unionization has taken the media industry by storm — with workers organizing throughout the country in traditional newspapers and digital upstarts alike. However, The Gazette — which is the oldest paper in Massachusetts and cut its teeth covering Shay’s Rebellion — has never had a union. With an ever precarious news industry, having strong protections for workers along with allowing their voice into the business will be one of the best ways to preserve the paper for the future.
The Gazette fancies itself as being a check on local government. But without the ability for workers to hold management in check, the promise of local democracy and accountability falls flat. Workers have already had the taste of victory — in the form of a transparent pay-scale — imagine what they might accomplish with a union.
Will Meyer, Hadley, is the Valley Advocate’s “Basemental” columnist and co-editor of The Shoestring.
Note: Wiley submitted this letter to the Gazette. It has not been published as of this posting.
I just wanted to write a quick note to say I’m glad to hear the Gazette workers unionized, although it was certainly a long time coming. Workers’ rights are essential to a healthily functioning society and I’m very pleased that they have taken this necessary step.
I hope management will recognize the union quickly and begin negotiations so everything can be accomplished efficiently and with little disruption.
Again, congratulations and thank you to the hard working union organizers.
Note: Chris submitted this letter to the Gazette. It has not been run as of this posting.
I've read with great interest the Gazette's coverage of its workers' move to unionize. I got my start in journalism at the Gazette. The Valley and the dedicated journalists covering it continue to have a special place in my heart.
A unionized workforce at the Gazette and Valley Advocate will only make the publications stronger by providing a desperately needed seat at the table for the 72 reporters, press workers, advertising representatives and others eligible to join the Pioneer Valley NewsGuild.
The financial bottom line of Gazette parent company Newspapers of New England has been balanced on the backs of these dedicated employees for far too long. CEO Aaron Julien's assertion that the paper has gotten "off-track" only in the last year due to a press project in Concord is a gross minimization of the years-long struggles in Northampton.
I can unequivocally say poor decisions by management negatively impacted the paper’s vitality during the majority of my 2014-16 tenure as a reporter. But workers carried that burden and continued to produce and support the production of meaningful community journalism through the strife.
My colleagues and I were expected to work long and hard hours for a very low salary. But perhaps worse was the lack of communication from managers when it came to important staffing decisions and other matters, contributing to a toxic culture of secrecy that left us in the dark and feeling frustrated.
NNE leaders like to boast that their company is family owned. I say it's time NNE treats its employees like family by giving them a greater role in decision-making.
Dear Mr. Julien and Ms. Hauser:
I write regarding efforts by your employees at the Daily Hampshire Gazette and The Valley Advocate to join together in forming a union, the Pioneer Valley NewsGuild.
These two newspapers, and the local, high-quality journalism that they produce, play a crucial role in the Western Massachusetts communities that they serve.
Your employees at these newspapers - including reporters, advertising sales agents, production staff, paginators, press operators, distribution staff, customer service representatives, and custodial staff - all contribute toward producing high-quality, local journalism that is crucial to a vibrant democracy and strong communities in Western Massachusetts.
These employees deserve a chance to have a voice in their workplace, and, if they choose, join a union. In fact, federal law protects their right to do so: the National Labor Relations Act grants all workers the right to organize and prohibits employers from interfering with this right.
Well over half of the 72 eligible employees at these two newspapers have reportedly
signed a petition requesting your voluntary recognition of their union and submitted it to you on November 12th.
As this process moves forward, I strongly urge you to carefully follow all applicable laws and respect your employees' rights to join together and decide without interference whether to form a union. These rights are essential to ensuring that all workers, including those at the Daily Hampshire Gazette and The Valley Advocate, have a place at the negotiating table and a meaningful opportunity to improve their wages, benefits, and working conditions.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
United States Senator