On Sept. 13, newsroom employees from the Omaha World Herald officially started their drive for unionization. According to Rich Mills, who has worked as a copy editor at the World Herald for 31 years, the drive toward unionization began in late June when Lee Enterprises was hired to manage the newspaper. This marked the first time that the World Herald was not under local control.
Two employees, Erin Grace and Todd Cooper, started the movement towards unionization with an organizing committee of about fifteen people and inspired others to join. Mills said, “There had never been a unionization effort here [at the Omaha World Herald] until Lee was hired to manage us.”
“We’d like see our newspaper’s profits used to strengthen our journalism, not line the pockets of Lee shareholders and executives,” said Mills. He and other employees cited historical concerns with Lee Enterprises maximizing profits without caring about the quality of the product.
The World Herald plans to join the NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America and the goal of unionization is to save the newspaper and preserve its independent voice, according to the owhguild.com.“‘We [staff members] are uniting because we want to preserve and promote Nebraska’s leading journalistic outlet — and protect the journalists who make it so.’”
“We like our newsroom bosses. Our efforts to organize are definitely not an attack on them personally. They're in a tough spot, too,” Mills emphasized.
The official vote for making the Omaha World Herald a union will be on Oct. 8.
The World Herald is not the only newspaper that is deciding to unionize – newspapers across the country have started to unionize as well.