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Frequently Asked Questions

Why are we unionizing? 

VTDigger reporters are committed to journalism and to bringing transparency to state and local government. As much we love what we do, it’s a hard industry — with long hours, low pay, irregular schedules and demanding standards. 

We want to make VTDigger more than a jumping-off point for young journalists, but rather a place people want to land and stay. Right now, without union representation, VTDigger management can change assignments, pay, and benefits without our input. There’s no requirement that reporters with the same level of experience receive equal pay and benefits. 

Unionizing gives us a protected way to push for fair treatment and benefits. We’ll gain clarity on expectations and transparency on company policies. We can advocate for ourselves and for journalism in Vermont in a way that benefits VTDigger — and the communities we cover —  in the long term.

Why now? 

Our organizing drive has been ongoing for many months. It has been a process in which we have gotten to know each other better, built real communication, and come to understand our collective issues. 

The pandemic has changed nearly every aspect of our lives as a Vermont community. But even as the situation unfolds, we know that this crisis will end – and that the VTDigger that emerges will be even stronger if our collective voice is included in determinative conversations about how we weather this storm.

Are there other unionized news organizations based in Vermont?

VTDigger would be the first! But there are hundreds of unionized newsrooms across the country and more are organizing every day. VTDigger is already a leader in high-quality, nonprofit news. We believe that we can help to model a news organization that honors strong employee protections and benefits while continuing to thrive financially. That will resonate across Vermont and beyond.

Why should I participate in this union?

To build on our collective voice in the newsroom. With our unified 90% of support, we will negotiate for improved working conditions in areas that matter: respect and dignity,  transparency, paid leave, layoff protections, fair policies, and more.

Can I be punished for supporting the union?

That would be illegal. Federal law prohibits any retaliation against an employee for organizing. Any actions taken against an employee – change in schedule, workload, responsibilities, pay – that are seen as retaliatory are illegal. No matter what happens, your colleagues are ready to support and fight for you, if necessary

Who does the union include? 

The union includes all non-supervisory editorial employees. That’s the reporting staff — mostly daily reporters, as well as interns, fellows and columnists. It does not include the business side of VTDigger, web designers, or people in management. 

What do we get?

Unionization is above all a process of organizing ourselves around identified collective interests for mutual protection and advancement. It also creates a relationship of equals with management; where managers will be legally bound to negotiate directly with us. Organizing a union gives us the protections we need to advocate for ourselves both individually and as a group. It gives us a strong, collective voice.

Practically speaking, that could include:

  • Clarity in the editing and publication process that takes into account reporters’ concerns
  • Robust human resources systems and supports 
  • A consistent pay scale
  • A structure through which we can productively interact with management without fear of retaliation
  • Comprehensive job descriptions that can't be changed without our agreement
  • Paid family leave
  • Better, sustainable conditions of work

We are already united in our support for VTDigger - now we are here to support each other!

Do I have to pay dues? 

We are forming an organization to improve and advance the mission of VTDigger and need to have the resources to be successful in bargaining and beyond. We will start to pay dues once we have voted together in favor of our first collective bargaining agreement - the contract that we will build with Digger management. Dues are approximately 1.4% of our salaries.

Does this mean VTDigger is going on strike?

There are certainly no immediate plans to do this. Work stoppages can be a powerful tool, and the VTDigger Guild values the right to use tactics like this as a potential route of redress for severe grievances. However, strikes are a last resort and will only be undertaken if and when we, VTDigger Guild members, decide they are appropriate. Our first priority is sitting down collaboratively with management and negotiating a contract.