Who are you?
We are the journalists and producers of online news site Crosscut and PBS affiliate KCTS9, which forms a Seattle-based, nonprofit newsroom providing public-interest journalism under the umbrella of Cascade Public Media (CPM). We are the folks that report, photograph, write and edit Crosscut and KCTS9 stories, videos, posts and newsletters, which are widely read and viewed across the Pacific Northwest.
When and why did you unionize?
In early July 2019, we asked management to recognize our union. We did so in response to increasing instability in the news industry and worries over staff churn and wages that did not keep up with experience levels and skyrocketing living costs. You may have seen coverage of this on KUOW, The Stranger, The Seattle PI, Current, Patch, or in the Seattle Times.
Cascade Public Media did not voluntarily recognize us. After a unanimous vote, we formed a bargaining team and have been negotiating a contract with Cascade Public Media management ever since.
What are you trying to achieve?
In short: a better workplace where people want to and can stick around. This means a workplace where everyone feels valued and safe from discrimination and has opportunities to grow and progress. This means a company that walks the walk on diversity and equity and pays its workers fairly in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. But it’s also bigger than us. We want to leave this newsroom a better place for the journalists who come after us, so our community can continue to get the coverage it needs and deserves.
What are you hoping to include in your contract?
Fair wages and better benefits, including better mental health support. A written commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as protections for working parents.
How are the negotiations going?
We have been in negotiations for more than a year and believe we’re in the home stretch (the final step of finalizing our contract is for both Crosscut Union and CPM to reach an agreement for staff wages, health benefits and mental health resources.) But it’s not going to be easy. Management has not agreed to a fair wage scale and has offered minimal to no improvements to our benefits package. We appreciate Cascade Public Media’s efforts to come to the table in good faith and hope to maintain the productive efforts to get to a finalized contract.
Why are you fighting for better wages?
Survival. Working and living in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. for salaries that have not kept up with skyrocketing costs of living is, frankly, nearly impossible. We want to make sure our journalists are able to live in the communities they cover and feel supported in the work they do. We believe that fair, better wages will improve the newsroom by making Crosscut a sustainable workplace for its employees and a journalistic entity that can continue to attract and retain the best talent while fulfilling its commitment to equity and inclusion.
How’s that going?
At this point, we have not come to an agreement about wages or benefits. Unfortunately, the company continues to undervalue our worth, but we are optimistic we can come to a solution.
How can we support you?