Newsroom staff at the Casper Star-Tribune are starting the process of forming a union.
This is not the first time employees of a major newspaper in the state have tried to join a union. The most famous case occurred in 1993, when then-Wyoming Tribune Eagle journalist Kerry Drake and another in the paper’s editorial division refused to wear an anti-union button out of support for employees considering joining a union. Both were suspended without pay and then fired. The case went to the Wyoming Supreme Court, but the court ruled unanimously in favor of the newspaper. Drake said he hopes things go well for the Star-Tribune news staff.
“All I can say is, I wish the staff a lot of luck, and I hope it goes through. I think they could use a union. I think it would be good for them,” said Drake. “Actually, I think it would be good for the company.”
But Drake said in the newspaper industry, corporate management often fights unions tooth and nail.
“They see it as something that is going to lose them money because a union is going to come in and want better benefits, better salaries, better working conditions. I can understand their point, but at some point they have to run a business where they treat workers fairly,” said Drake.
The Star-Tribune is owned by Lee Enterprises, an out-of-state media corporation that publishes 46 daily newspapers across the country. According to a press release from the newsroom staff interested in forming a union at the Star-Tribune, also known as the Casper News Guild, there are often conflicts between the corporation’s obligations to its stakeholders and the interests of readers of the paper.
On Monday, 80 percent of the newsroom staff filed cards with the National Labor Relations Board. An election will be held within the next four weeks, and if more than 50 percent of the newsroom votes in favor of unionizing, they will begin the bargaining process with Lee Enterprises.