Two more newspapers owned by Tronc have filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board.
The combined newsroom staffs of The Virginian-Pilot and the Daily Press, which serve the Hampton Roads community in Virginia, requested voluntary recognition as the Tidewater Media Guild in a letter on Tuesday, according to a press release from The NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America.
In a letter to the Tidewater Media Guild on Thursday, Tronc said it would not recognize the union. Without voluntary recognition of the union by the parent company, union authorization is available only through a federally overseen vote.
More than 83 percent of employees across the two newsrooms signed cards to authorize the union effort. Since Tuesday’s filing, 15 more signatures were added to the Tidewater Media Guild organizing committee’s mission statement, for a total of 55, according to the CWA news release.
“We hope Tronc will see a union as a good thing rather than a bad thing, encouraging journalists to stay at our papers and do great journalism,” Daily Press reporter Pete Dujardin said in a press release. “We hope the company sees our overwhelming support and agrees to recognize us without a vote.”
According to the communications workers union, Tronc said it did not have enough information to make a decision on recognizing the union. According to the press release, no further information had been requested by Tronc from the guild between Tuesday and Thursday.
Tronc did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday afternoon.
Earlier this year, Tronc also initially refused to voluntarily recognize the Chicago Tribune Guild, citing a lack of information. However, Tronc did recognize the Chicago Tribune Guild in May.
According to Tidewater Media Guild, if Tronc were to recognize their union then the guild would cancel their election with the NLRB and commence bargaining. Newsroom staff seek to ensure wage quality, fair hiring practices and diversity by forming unions. The Tidewater Media Guild is seeking union representation by The NewsGuild, a sector of the Communications Workers of America.
“In order to carry out our mission of quality watchdog journalism, we need support. We need it from our readers. We need it from our coworkers and editors. And we need it from our employer. Our newsroom can’t afford any less,” said Virginian-Pilot designer Lisa Merklin.
Tronc purchased The Virginian-Pilot in May for $34 million and has owned the Daily Press since 1986. The Daily Press and The Virginian-Pilot merged operations on Tuesday–the same day the newsroom filed for union recognition.