LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Courier Journal management is refusing to recognize the Courier Journal Guild after journalists announced last week that they had the votes to unionize.
In a statement shared on Twitter by the Guild, Executive Editor of the Courier Journal and Midwest Regional Editor of USA Today Mary Irby-Jones stated, “The Courier-Journal respectfully rejects the Guild’s request for voluntary recognition and/or meeting with Gannett management concerning election matters." The statement was in response to a request from the NewsGuild union on Aug. 30 to voluntarily recognize the union as the “collective bargaining representative of a majority of non-supervisory newsroom employees."
The statement went on to say that federal law allows employees a right to choose for themselves to unionize in a secret ballot conducted by the National Labor Relations Board. “We respect the rights of our employees to have an election process and to confidentially cast a vote,” Irby-Jones said.
The Courier Journal Guild responded, saying in a Tweet, “It’s a shame they’d rather waste the company’s time and money than voluntarily recognize the supermajority of the newsroom who supports the union.”
“They could choose to recognize us at any moment. And if they don’t, we will win an election,” Guild organizers said.
According to the National Relations Labor Board, there are two ways to form a union: an employer can voluntarily recognize a union, or if at least 30% of workers formally state they want a union, the NRLB will conduct an election. If a majority of those who vote choose the union, the NLRB will certify the union as the representative for collective bargaining.
The Courier Journal in Louisville is owned by Gannett, a massive newspaper publisher which also owns USA Today.
In the Courier Journal Guild’s tweet last week announcing the plan to unionize, a list of reasons were given for the push to organize, from unpaid furloughs to listing the Courier Journal’s building for sale. Union organizers are also pushing for a system of pay raises to reward institutional knowledge and commitment to Louisville, equitable, fair and livable salaries, and to drop the paywall on stories in the public’s interest.
In response to the statement from management, union organizers directed followers to an Action Network petition that has garnered over 1,000 signatures. It is directed at Irby-Jones and Gannett's leadership to recognize the union voluntarily.