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Fort Worth Star-Telegram union ends strike, returns to work

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Cristian ArguetaSoto
/
Fort Worth Report
Journalists at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram march during a strike on Nov. 28. Local union members are striking after alleging the newspaper's parent company, McClatchy, has failed to fairly negotiate a contract.

Members of the Fort Worth Newsguild at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram returned to work Dec. 22, 24 days after going on strike citing the company’s unwillingness to “negotiate in good faith.”

The newsroom’s union said that it had met with the company three times since the strike began and that there has been “significant movement for the first time in the two years” they have been in bargaining talks.

On the Newsguild’s Twitter feed, the union said that McClatchy had moved from the $45,000 minimum wage offer it has held to since the strike began. Among the union’s proposals was a $57,000 annual wage floor while McClatchy countered with its $45,000 offer.

Members of the union will vote on the newspaper’s offer soon, according to Kaley Johnson, vice president of the Fort Worth NewsGuild.

Leaders at McClatchy and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram have not responded to requests for a comment.

When the strike began, the newspaper canceled the strikers’ insurance. That insurance will not resume until January, said Johnson.

This is the third strike nationally by journalists since August. Nearly 300 workers at Reuters went on strike for a day in August. Staff at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are also striking, the nation’s first newspaper strike in decades. According to a report in the Post-Gazette, those talks

Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of labor education research at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, said she expects labor actions to continue next year, particularly among media organizations.

“The labor movement has seen a lot of success among media companies,” she said. “Wages are low and, in many cases, the companies that own these media properties are making a great deal of money.”

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s parent company, McClatchy, is now owned by hedge-fund Chatham Asset Management. The union filed an Unfair Labor Practice complaint in August. McClatchy also has two other complaints against it – one for repudiation/modification of a contract and another for refusal to furnish information. McClatchy owns newspapers in 30 markets.

Johnson, a justice reporter for the paper, said the guild was heartened by the support of the community, including a recent $10,000 donation from Firefighters’ Local 440. Over 730 people and organizations donated to the strikers, she said. A total of 21 members of the guild went on strike. One took another job in the meantime, Johnson said.

Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at bob.francis@fortworthreport.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.