The staff of Education Week have begun the process of unionizing their workplace with the Washington-Baltimore News Guild. The employees say their motivation is to sustain and improve the publication.
EdWeek’s organizing committee announced its burgeoning union drive at the end of August, after around 75 percent of the potential bargaining unit signed union cards. In response, the publication’s senior leaders declined the request for voluntary recognition.
But the EdWeek employees were not deterred. In an interview with LaborPress, two staff reporters said that they’re very optimistic about the outcome of holding a union election with the National Labor Relations Board, and the opportunity to better explain the benefits of the union.
“You don’t fight to improve an organization that you don’t care about,” said Sarah Schwartz. “The fact that so many of our colleagues have put in so much time and effort into organizing, into talking to each other and thinking really carefully about what would make this a better workplace for everybody, I think that just demonstrates how much people care about this place.”
Based out of Bethesda, Maryland, EdWeek has provided news and analysis on K-12 education since 1981. Its proposed bargaining unit of reporters, visual artists, digital and engagement specialists and marketing and advertising professionals, among other employees, is around 50 people — some of which work in the office and others remotely.
Schwartz and her colleague Mark Lieberman said that the union effort emerged out of conversations about equitable pay, transparency in salary decisions, family leave and various other parts of the work environment that employees thought would benefit from a more democratic decision-making process.
At the center of these conversations was “the desire to have more of a concrete voice in shaping our workplace, and our experience doing this work,” said Lieberman.
An Ed Week Union press release also noted that in recent years the company has lost veteran employees, partly due to static salaries and a lacking career ladder, which has burdened the publication’s goal of hiring a more diverse staff.
In response to the announcement, Education Week’s President and CEO Michele Givens said that the group’s nonprofit publisher Editorial Projects in Education, will abide by the outcome of the NLRB election.
“We also strongly believe that a process ensuring that each employee is informed and has a full understanding of all points of view on unionization is paramount and implemented in accordance with the representation procedures of the NLRB,” Givens said in a statement published by EdWeek. Givens did not respond in time for publication to a request for statement by LaborPress
So far employees reported that the union campaign had provided an opportunity to bring together employees who can tend to get siloed in different departments or those who work in the office versus remotely. The already positive experience of these new connections is one thing that Lieberman said makes him optimistic about what a union could do for the company.
“To understand that, these people have some pretty similar concerns, I think gives us a sense of community with our coworkers in a way that we might not have had before,” Schwartz said.
The organizing committee doesn’t yet have a date for their NLRB election yet, but they’re looking forward to it.
“We’re just excited about the possibilities,” said Lieberman.