Reporters go union at Portland Mercury


“Yep, we somehow aren’t already unionized.”

That cheeky quip comes from newsroom workers at the Portland Mercury, the (Seattle) Stranger, and other Index Media publications who announced on Feb. 12 that they want to unionize. Some readers may be surprised that workers at the “alternative” publications weren’t already in a union, considering the progressively pro-labor stance of their reporting, said Portland Mercury reporter Taylor Griggs.

The workers — 22 reporters, editors, photographers, graphic designers, videographers, IT workers, marketing professionals, and client relations workers at four publications — have asked the NewsGuild to represent them in a new unit called the Index Media Union. The NewsGuild is a division of Communication Workers of America; the union also represents newsroom workers at the Bend Bulletin and Redmond Spokesman in Oregon, and The Daily News in Longview, Washington.

Index Media owns the Mercury, the Stranger, Bold Type Tickets, and EverOut. Its publications cover news, arts, and culture from a progressive standpoint and often a tongue-in-cheek tone.

Griggs said the media industry is “precarious,” and she and her coworkers have watched other companies announce layoffs or close completely. She sees unionizing as a way to talk to Index management to come up with ideas to avoid similar fates, or at least guarantee good working conditions, wages, and layoff protocols in a union contract.

“Through our reporting, we’ve come to understand that people who work in all fields can and should form unions,” Griggs said. “We want to live up to the values we espouse in our reporting…. I think there’s some kind of relationship to be gained here that hopefully will make us more sustainable and make it easier to keep people longer.”

Workers emailed Index Media Publisher and President Rob Crocker asking him to voluntarily recognize the union. They had not heard back before this issue went to press.


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