Press Room

Breaking news, press releases and statements from the Writers Guild of America, East

Tuesday August 18, 2020

Chalkbeat Unionizes with the Writers Guild of America, East

NEW YORK, NY (August 18, 2020) – An essential resource for local and national educational news, Chalkbeat’s reporters, story editors, engagement team, and visuals staff has unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE). The union was voluntarily recognized by management.

Chalkbeat is a mission-driven nonprofit news organization committed to the effort to improve schools for all children, especially those who have historically lacked access to a quality education. The site has reporters based in eight locations: Chicago, Colorado, Detroit, Indiana, Newark, New York, Philadelphia and Tennessee. 

Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East, said, “Chalkbeat is a must read for parents, teachers and school administrators who depend on the site’s in-depth and comprehensive coverage of education news and local schools. We are proud to represent these dedicated education journalists.”

In a statement to management explaining their decision to unionize, Chalkbeat’s 26-member staff wrote:

While Chalkbeat has invested in improving staff diversity, our bureaus remain largely unrepresentative of our communities. In a recent ​letter​ committing Chalkbeat to anti-racism, our CEO and founder Elizabeth Green promised a serious effort to hire more people of color. As a union, we want to ensure this promise is fulfilled by establishing a stronger process to hire, protect, and retain employees from many underrepresented communities — including those who are Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American and who come from a range of economic backgrounds.

As we grow our diverse workforce, it is crucial that pay be equitable and transparent. And while layoffs and furloughs are not expected in the immediate future, we hope to establish separation policies and equitable protections for our workers regardless of age.

Our teams have worked relentlessly during the COVID-19 crisis and our record readership shows how valuable our journalism is today. We recognize the need for flexibility in a field with unpredictable hours. But now more than ever, it is important that we establish reasonable protections so that employees do not burn out, but feel supported and stay long-term.

We are excited that Chalkbeat continues to pursue opportunities to expand into new communities. Our shared goal is to ensure that independent and powerful journalism remains at the forefront of all that we do. We look forward to elevating the voices of those primarily responsible for producing the news as we explore new bureaus, revenue streams, and ways we reach our audiences.

By developing our first contract, we are looking forward to building on our organization’s successes and having a larger role in solving our industry’s toughest challenges.

The WGAE now represents nearly 7,000 writers in film, television, and news (broadcast and digital). In addition to Chalkbeat, the WGAE represents newsrooms at ABC News, CBS News, CBSN, Committee to Protect Journalists, The Dodo, Fast Company, Fox 5 WNYW-TV, Future plc, Gimlet Media, G/O Media, Hearst Magazines, HuffPost, The Intercept, Jewish Currents, MTV News, Refinery29, The Ringer, Salon, Slate, Talking Points Memo, 1010 WINS, Thirteen Productions (Thirteen/WNET), Thrillist, VICE, Vox Media and WBBM / CBS 2 News.

ABOUT THE WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA, EAST
The Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO (WGAE) is a labor union representing writers in film, television, news and new media. The Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members; conducts programs, seminars and events on issues of interest to writers; and presents writers’ views to various bodies of government. For more information on the Writers Guild of America, East, visit wgaeast.org.

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