The Lead

Morning Call newsroom employees unionize

By: - February 25, 2019 10:30 am

Photo of Allentown, Pa. skyline via Wikimedia commons.

Following a nationwide newsroom trend, staff of the Allentown, Pa. newspaper The Morning Call announced on Monday their intent to form a union.

Reporters, photographers and editors on the Morning Call’s award winning staff have asked the Chicago-based executives at the Tribune Publishing Co., which owns their paper, to voluntarily recognize their effort.

Tribune Co. has recognized unions at five of its other properties across the U.S., including the Chicago Tribune and the VirginianPilot, in Norfolk, Va., according to a press release issued by Morning Call union organizers. 

The union organizers also filed authorization cards with the National Labor Relations Board, announcing their intent to be represented by the The NewsGuild-CWA.

Union organizers say their effort will help ensure better conditions for staff in an ever-shrinking news industry. In a press release, they said that staff cuts, layoffs, and increasing workloads have plagued the Morning Call newsroom since Tribune Co. acquired it in 2000.

Tribune Co. most recently offered offered voluntary buyouts to Morning Call newsroom employees, which took effect on Nov. 30.

“We know unionizing doesn’t magically solve the problems with the news industry,” said Morning Call reporter Michelle Merlin. “But it does give us our best shot at controlling and predicting our working conditions. We want a voice when decisions are made about our newsroom.”

Another long-time reporter said that dwindling staff numbers have made it hard for Morning Call employees to cover the large and diverse Lehigh Valley area.

“It’s important for employees who give so much of themselves to be given some semblance of security in return, to be fairly compensated, to be treated respectfully and, beyond all else, valued for how much we care about our paper, our community and our readers,” said senior reporter John Moser, who has worked at The Morning Call for 32 years. “We need representation to make sure we are … But dedication, hard work, talent, experience and knowledge are no longer rewarded as they should be – even as we are required to do more and more.”

The Morning Call distributes an average of 69,000 daily newspapers Monday through Saturday and 115,000 on Sunday. Its coverage area includes Allentown, Bethlehem, and counties in western New Jersey.

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Elizabeth Hardison
Elizabeth Hardison

Elizabeth Hardison covered education policy, election administration, criminal justice and legislative news for the Capital-Star from Jan. 2019-April 2021. You can find her on Twitter @ElizHardison.