News & Politics

The Hill’s Newsroom Petitions to Unionize

The Hill’s newsroom announced plans to file for a union election Wednesday. Its proposed bargaining unit includes about 80 reporters, editors, designers, and video producers among other staffers.

Chris Mills Rodrigo, who reports on tech policy for the Hill, says staff began conversation about organizing last spring, following reports that then owner Jimmy Finkelstein was considering a sale of the publication. He eventually sold it to Texas-based Nexstar Media Group, the largest owner of local TV stations in the country.

“The thought process was try to get as much job security as possible,” Mills Rodrigo tells Washingtonian. “We’ve had good experiences so far with Nexstar,” he says, but members of the new union are seeking “that extra level of certainty.” The top issues that staff would like to see in a contract? Pay transparency and equity, consistent health care offerings, and decent severance packages, Mills Rodrigo says.

The Hill Guild has asked for management to voluntarily recognize its guild, which, like the union for Washingtonian‘s edit, design, and web staff, is part of the Washington-Baltimore News Guild-CWA. Voluntary recognition would obviate the need for an election with the National Labor Relations Board; the Hill Guild says a “supermajority” of staffers signed union cards.

Reached for comment, Hill Editor Bob Cusack referred Washingtonian to Nexstar, whose spokesperson Gary Weitman declined to comment on the unionization or whether the company might voluntarily recognize the staffers’ union.

Mills Rodrigo says the Hill’s newsroom staff was cheered to see that the management of Politico, which the Hill considers a competitor, recognized its union quickly and has already begun to bargain a contract. “We aren’t doing this to rag on” management, Mills Rodrigo says. “We just want to make the newsroom better for everyone.”  

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Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.

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