Union prevails at Gazette, Advocate in 40-29 vote

  • Dusty Christensen and Bera Dunau celebrate after the ballots were counted and the union was established at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. It was 40 for and 29 against. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Dane Kuttler reacts with back Dave Eisenstadter Bera Dunau and Dusty Christensen after the ballots were counted and the union was established at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. It was 40 for and 29 against. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Dane Kuttler, an employee at the Gazette reacts after the ballots were counted and the union was established at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. It was 40 for and 29 against. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Dusty Christensen, right, a reporter at the Daily Hampshire Gazette, delivers the news Wednesday evening to Peter Stilla, a night copy editor, that the vote passed and a union was established at the Gazette. The vote was 40 for and 29 against. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Dane Kuttler, an employee at the Gazette reacts after the ballots were counted and the union was established at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. It was 40 for and 29 against. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Andy Castillo takes a picture of Gazette staff after the ballots were counted and the union was established at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. It was 40 for and 29 against. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

For the Gazette
Published: 12/12/2018 11:25:01 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The voting began at 3 p.m. Wednesday and continued until 8 p.m. as employees of the Daily Hampshire Gazette cast their ballots on whether or not to establish a union.

When the votes were tallied, the results were 40 yes and 29 no, officially establishing the Pioneer Valley NewsGuild at the Daily Hampshire Gazette and the Valley Advocate.

At 8:15 reporter Bera Dunau emerged from a back office of the Gazette where the votes were being counted, and with a big smile on his face announced, “We have a union!”

According to classified advertising representative Dane Kuttler, voter turnout was very high.

Kuttler, a supporter of the union, said she was very happy with the outcome.

“This also shows that we have a lot of work to do, but we are ready to dive in and do it,” she said. “At this point, we are all about uniting and moving forward.”

The process began with the formation of the Pioneer Valley NewsGuild, which consists of employees from both the Advocate and the Gazette, with members from advertising, circulation, design, editorial, maintenance and press.

The NewsGuild was formed in large part with the mission of giving employees a say in company decisions. Members have said that they were frustrated with a lack of transparency in managerial decisions, shifting job descriptions and gender disparities in pay.

The issue of pay disparities, previously reported in the Gazette in February, is what employees say motivated unionizing efforts. While management had taken steps to correct this issue, many still thought a union would be beneficial to the paper.

Newspapers of New England, Inc. President and CEO Aaron Julien said he was disappointed with the outcome.

“It is no secret that I hoped for a different result and wanted to maintain a direct relationship with the employees at the Gazette,” Julien said. “Nevertheless, I will respect the majority’s final decision to unionize and will negotiate in good faith with the NewsGuild-CWA for a labor agreement, even as I adjust to this new reality and its impact on the way we do business here in Northampton.”

He added that five votes were challenged by the union and therefore not counted.

Swing Editor Dave Eisenstadter said he was overjoyed with the outcome and credited those who had worked hard to establish the union.

“This is a really great result,” he said. “We had some pushback from management, but people came together in the belief that this is what is best for the Gazette.”

In late November, a group of about a dozen people delivered a petition to the Gazette asking the newspaper’s parent company to voluntarily recognize the Pioneer Valley NewsGuild.

Of the 72 employees who were eligible to join the union, 70 percent had signed the petition.

The National Labor Relations Board, working with attorneys from both the union and Newspapers of New England, created a stipulated election agreement, which outlined when and how the election would take place.

JoAnne Howlet of the NLRB ran the election on Wednesday evening and said that everything went smoothly.

Brandy Lincoln, a press worker at the paper who was working on Wednesday, said she voted against the union, adding that she didn’t hear about the issue until she read about it in the paper.

“I didn’t feel like we were really included in the process,” she said. “I talked with editorial about how this would be good for us, and they didn’t seem to have any good answers for me.”

Lincoln said that she hoped the union will be dealing with issues that impact the pressroom, such as getting proper maintenance for the machines and better pay.

Correction: A previous version of this story gave the wrong job title for Dave Eisenstadter, who is a swing editor.




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