Members of the Hartford Courant newsroom say they want to form a union. The Courant is the latest newspaper owned by Tribune Publishing where journalists are pushing to organize.
Nearly 80 percent of staffers at the Courant signed union cards to be represented by the Hartford Courant Guild. The guild is asking Tribune Publishing to voluntarily recognize the union.
Kathleen McWilliams, a reporter at the Hartford Courant, said staffing at the Courant has decreased from 138 members to 75 since 2011. And while her workload has increased, her paycheck hasn’t.
“I was hired at the Courant three years ago to cover the communities in South Windsor and East Hartford. Two, you know, big towns outside of Hartford. And I was paid a certain amount that was appropriate for that amount of work. A year later, I was assigned to cover three towns and I didn’t see a raise or a cost of living increase or anything like that.”
Rich Hanley, a professor of journalism at Quinnipiac University, said the decrease in reporters and increase in assignments is hurting the quality of the news.
“It’s a business problem, it’s an advertising problem, it’s on that side of the wall, and those people have not been held accountable for the deterioration of the news product. They’re the ones who are still getting high salaries, they’re the ones who are still getting bonuses and that, to me, is a travesty.”
Hanley said the business problem rests with the Courant’s parent company, Tribune Publishing. It’s one of four major U.S. daily chains and has been the focus of merger talks after its CEO left last month. Other Tribune papers like the Los Angeles Times have successfully unionized.
The Courant released a statement saying it will review the request.