Editorial staff of VTDigger, Vermont’s largest newsroom, unionizes

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Journalists at the online nonprofit VTDigger, Vermont’s largest newsroom, are unionizing to help secure the future of local reporting in the Green Mountain State. 

Nearly 90% of the editorial staff today asked VTDigger’s executive director and board of trustees to voluntarily recognize the VTDigger NewsGuild, TNG-CWA Local 31167, so management and staff can continue working toward a common goal: producing vital journalism for readers from Bennington to Barton.

Vermonters are depending on our work, and the work of other local journalists, for up-to-date information and rigorous reporting as the COVID-19 outbreak spreads. VTDigger’s newsroom has stepped up to meet that demand, working overtime to expand coverage.

The coronavirus epidemic has highlighted the importance of our mission, but it has also heightened the fragility of our industry and economy. We are seeing furloughs and layoffs hit workers across the country, and the media is no exception — VTDigger has laid off three employees so far. 

“It has never been more important for rank-and-file newsroom employees to have a voice in the workplace,” said education reporter Lola Duffort. “These are extraordinarily difficult times, and we want to partner with VTDigger’s board and management as we navigate our way out of this crisis.”

Our organization’s rapid growth has come at the cost of employee burnout and high turnover. Six months ago, we came together with a vision for a more sustainable newsroom, one with the structure, support, and policies needed to ensure its future and the fair treatment of its employees.

“The editorial staff who makes up the VTDigger Guild are proud of where we work. We are grateful for the dedication and vision of our editors, founder, and board members,” said data reporter Erin Petenko. “Together with our readers and donors, we have helped to make the organization a leader in nonprofit news and Vermont journalism.” 

With a union, we can advocate for ourselves in ways that will strengthen VTDigger — and the communities we serve — long term. 

“The support of a union will allow reporters to do their best work,” said health care reporter Katie Jickling. “Ultimately, I believe it will yield higher quality journalism, which benefits all of us.”

The union includes full and part-time reporters, photographers, interns, fellows, and columnists.

NewsGuild-CWA represents more than 20,000 journalists and media workers throughout the U.S. and Canada, including at national outlets like the New York Times and local publications like the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Massachusetts.