FORT WORTH, Texas — Journalists with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram have gone on strike over alleged unfair labor practices by the newspaper's parent company.
A group of unionized workers at the newspaper called the Fort Worth NewsGuild announced the strike on Monday, citing that parent company McClatchy was "refusing to bargain in good faith" over a new contract.
In a news release, the NewsGuild, which organized in 2020, said it was the first newsroom in Texas to go on strike. The group said 91% of its members decided to strike.
Isaac Windes is the president of the Fort Worth NewsGuild and an early childhood education reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He said his group has been having bargaining sessions with McClatchy about once a month.
"The frustration level is growing with each bargaining session," Windes said. "This is kind of our ultimate move to show that we are in this together. And we really need serious bargaining."
In a story published Monday evening, the Star-Telegram said "several newsroom employees" have gone on strike. The paper "continues to provide coverage for readers," including the trial of former Fort Worth officer Aaron Dean, who is charged in the 2019 shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson, according to Star-Telegram president and editor Steve Coffman.
“We look forward to reaching an agreement with our valued employees," Coffman said in the story.
Kaley Johnson is vice president of the Fort Worth NewsGuild and a "Seeking Social Justice" reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She said McClatchy has been "stonewalling" and is refusing to compromise.
"That is their bottom line—to stall and put as little money and resources into this contract as possible," Johnson said. "Our bottom line is to look out for the future of local news in the Dallas-Fort Worth area."
The NewsGuild claims McClatchy, a hedge fund-owned company that operates media outlets in 30 U.S. markets, wasn't budging on items such as wages, severance and layoffs during negotiations.
The group is currently seeking a minimum wage of $57,500 for workers living in Fort Worth. The NewsGuild alleges McClatchy countered with $45,000.
"We regret that withholding our labor is a necessary tactic in the bargaining process. But after two years of limited progress, we see no other option," the NewGuild said in its news release.
Candi Bolden is a member of the Fort Worth NewsGuild and a video producer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She said the company hasn't been treating employees well for years.
"I want us to have a fair contract," Bolden said. "I want us to be able to have more people in journalism that are telling stories."
Madeleine Cook is a member of the Fort Worth NewsGuild and a visual journalist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She said picketing is important to give visibility to their fight.
"I'm here to rally with my community and my colleagues to really advocate for a fair contract from McClatchy," Cook said. "We love our jobs. We're just asking for livable working conditions that make our profession sustainable. We're just simply not paid enough to live in the city of Fort Worth."
In a series of tweets Monday, the NewsGuild said McClatchy had "opted to revoke our benefits and post our jobs online to try and encourage others to cross the picket line."
"The Fort Worth NewsGuild is dedicated to fair conditions for @startelegram employees," the tweet said. "No amount of union busting will change that."
The NewsGuild followed up, saying, "We are not backing down and expect @mcclatchy to meet us at the table this week."