Berkeleyside and Oaklandside reporters officially announced their intent to unionize April 12.
Collectively called the Cityside Guild, 14 non-management employees across all sites are part of the union and were voluntarily recognized by Cityside management April 14, according to a Guild statement on Twitter.
“As our non-profit organization grows from a small upstart, we are unionizing to preserve and improve our work environment and ensure the integrity of our reporting in the long term,” the Guild’s statement reads.
The statement added that the union will seek to correct pay disparities and ensure salaries keep up with the rising costs of living in the Bay Area.
Co-founders Lance Knobel, Tasneem Raja and Tracey Taylor of Cityside Journalism Initiative — the parent company for both publications — also commented on the unionization, expressing their support.
The management informed the Cityside Guild following the announcement they would not be blocking or contesting the creation of the union but rather acknowledging it and cooperating in negotiations, according to Nico Savidge, senior city hall reporter for Berkeleyside and now a spokesperson for the Cityside Guild.
“While some organizations resist unionization, we understand that unionization can come from a place of strength and shared goals,” the co-founders said in an email. “We also know there’s plenty of room to improve, and we look forward to working with our staff to ensure Cityside is built to last, and that people across our communities have access to the news and information they need and deserve.”
Savidge said the process has been ongoing for a little over a year, adding that the response has been “positive.”
With the acknowledgment from management, Savidge said the guild’s work to become a union has remained free of any particular challenges.
“From the start, we had a very motivated group of colleagues who have really embraced this idea and see it as a way to improve conditions for us,” Savidge said.
Savidge said Cityside Guild is looking to receive certification within the next few months. Once the union gets that certification, it will begin bargaining for pay and creating consistent working conditions across the organization.
Cityside began as a small local start-up, Savidge noted, but gradually grew into a “well-resourced, fairly sizable” newsroom throughout the last several years.
“There are a lot of places that would really like to emulate Cityside as the model,” Savidge said. “We think that an important piece of that model, of a good local news operation, is an organized newsroom.”
Savidge noted that the union hopes to preserve conditions already in place with Cityside as an example of what other local newsrooms could implement.
Although he said the process has evolved, Savidge feels optimistic about the joint management’s and staff’s joint decision to continue growing as an organization.
“We’re happy to see that and hope that the spirit of collaboration will continue,” Savidge said.