February 18, 2019

Tribune recognizes Hartford Courant's union bid, negotiations to begin

HBJ Photo | Joe Cooper
HBJ Photo | Joe Cooper
The Hartford Courant's headquarters at 285 Broad St.

Journalists at the Hartford Courant on Friday won the right to organize a union after its parent company, Tribune Publishing, said it would voluntarily recognize the Hartford Courant Guild.

Tribune's cooperation came four days after more than 75 percent of the newspaper's staff signed union authorization cards calling to be represented. That number rose to 83 percent Friday, Courant staff said.

The Hartford Courant Guild will now become a collecting bargaining unit for more than 60 reporters, editors and photographers as part of a local chapter under national newspaper union The NewsGuild-CWA.

Earlier last week, Courant staff also filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to form the labor unit. No date has been set for contract negotiations, Tribune said in a statement.

"We look forward to building a more productive and collaborative relationship with the company as we join the conversation shaping the future of the Hartford Courant," the Hartford Courant Guild said in a statement.

The union effort comes months after a dozen Courant newsroom staffers accepted a voluntary buyout offered to Tribune employees as the media company eyed cutting costs.

The nation's oldest continuously published newspaper has been suffering from years of staff reductions and declining print circulation.

Over the last three years, its average print circulation has sunk 32 percent to 60,265 as of the third quarter of 2018, according to Alliance for Audited Media figures.

The paper's workforce peaked in 1994 with 400 employees, falling to 135 employees in 2009, the Hartford Business Journal reported in 2014. Today, the Courant's newsroom has about 62 employees and 10 unfilled positions.

Tribune, the owners of nine newspapers, is searching for a buyer after it was nearly acquired by McClatchy late last year.

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