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The newest addition to a long NewsGuild tradition

When we started organizing our newsroom last fall, we joined a relatively recent wave of new unionizing efforts within Tribune Publishing.

This wave started quietly rolling in 2016 with discussions at the Los Angeles Times over a sudden change to employees’ vacation policy. Around the same time, journalists at several Gatehouse-owned newspapers in Florida voted to to unionize in reaction to stagnant wages, layoffs and other downsizing.

The next three years have brought more of our sister papers at Tribune Publishing and other newsrooms across the country into a modern fight for fair contracts, fair pay and a say in our futures.

But the Hartford Courant Guild is also joining a storied tradition of New England newspaper unions, and representation by the 86-year-old NewsGuild-CWA.

Our unit belongs to NewsGuild Local 41, the Providence Newspaper Guild. Formed in 1959 by employees at the Providence Journal and Evening Bulletin in Rhode Island, it took 17 months for those enterprising journalists to win their first contract.

The local’s first strike came in 1973, when members walked off the job for 13 days over the company’s refusal to allow court action on retroactive pay. While the strike didn’t achieve the union’s goal, it inspired the group to hold its first Providence Newspaper Guild Follies, a satirical review of the past year’s news-making events and personalities. The inaugural skit-and-song show drew 500 people in 1974, with ticket proceeds funding the guild’s first annual Harold Brennan Memorial Scholarships.

In 1993, the Worcester, Mass. Telegram and Gazette voted to join the Providence Guild. In 2007, the Pawtucket Times and Woonsocket Call guild locals merged with the Providence Guild. In 2012, the Brockton Enterprise local joined as well.

And last December, the staff at the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton and its affiliates at the Amherst Bulletin and Valley Advocate in Western Massachusetts voted to form the Pioneer Valley NewsGuild, a wall-to-wall union including reporters, advertising sales agents, production staff and paginators, distribution staff, customer service representatives and custodians.

With the addition of Pioneer Valley and the Courant Guild in February, our local is starting a new chapter in his history. We’re honored to be a part of it.