Digital division of Seattle’s Cascade Public Media votes to unionize

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Employees at Crosscut, a digital news site operated by Cascade Public Media in Seattle, became the latest public media newsroom to join a union after a successful vote Wednesday.

Sixteen employees voted unanimously to approve of forming the union, according to Cascade Public Media. The employees are being represented by NewsGuild, a sector of the Communications Workers of America that represents journalists and digital media professionals. The unit consists of 19 employees and includes reporters, producers, video editors, photographers and digital staffers.

“Cascade Public Media believes in giving all of our staff a voice,” the public media company said in a statement following the vote. “We’re glad that everyone who will be represented by the News Guild had a chance to vote.”

“Now, our focus is on moving forward together, and our editorial team will continue to produce the same high quality, award-winning journalism that our readers know and trust,” the statement said. “We believe in our journalists and the work they do every day.”

Union members celebrated the victory on Twitter.

In a petition delivered to management earlier this month, the employees said that the organization has “struggled to retain and recruit talented staff.” They blamed the retention problem on “pay that doesn’t keep up with Seattle’s rising cost of living” and “management’s unwillingness to offer vacation and other benefits commensurate with what experienced professionals can find elsewhere.”

The petition also said that employees seek job protections because of “the downsizing that has been happening in newsrooms throughout the country.”

“By forming a union, we are seeking a greater role in shaping decisions that affect our lives, as well as the quality of the product we deliver to our growing audience,” the petition said.

When Crosscut employees delivered the petition, management declined to voluntarily recognize the union, a move that led to Wednesday’s vote. Nearly 90% of eligible staff signed cards supporting the union.

Crosscut merged with public TV station KCTS in 2015 to form Cascade Public Media.

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