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.