Lee Corporate Newspaper Fires Reporter After Unionization Efforts

In a move that received no coverage in Lee Corporation Newspapers last week, a reporter who led a unionization effort at a Wyoming Lee paper was unceremoniously fired last week.

Lee Corporation holds a near monopoly over daily print newspapers in much of Montana, with Great Falls and Bozeman being the only major cities in Montana not dominated by their coverage.

This firing comes at the exact same time that the Missoula Independent staff was holding a vote to unionize. The vote passed unanimously and the Missoula Independent union now enters into contract negotiations with Lee Corporation.

The Missoula Independent staffers are organized as the Missoula News Guild and this quote is from the statement they released on Friday:

The unanimity of the vote is proof of how strongly the paper’s staff feels about securing a viable future for the Independent in Missoula.

We have been concerned by Lee Enterprises’ recent actions regarding the recently unionized Casper Star-Tribune, specifically the late-night telephone layoff of a well-regarded, award-winning editor — for financial reasons, according to Lee — and the subsequent suspension of one of the Casper News Guild organizers on the eve of our vote. Star-Tribune staffers had recently been told the paper was not targeted for cuts.

This is a troubling, but expected turn in an effort by journalists to organize and collectively bargain. Lee Corporation Newspapers has a history of laying off employees in the dead of night and buying out senior staff contracts. These moves all come in the name of profits, while the owners of these newspapers rake in profits like the vulture capitalists they are.

ABCFOX Montana reported:

The release goes on to thank readers and advertisers who’ve supported the paper: “Thank you for believing in us, the employees who work every day to keep the Independent worthy of your trust. Your continued, vocal support will be more important than ever as we begin working towards our first contract.”

Nicky Ouellet for Montana Public Radio reported:

All eight eligible staff members voted in favor of unionizing, and expect to begin collective bargaining negotiations in the next month or two.

The Missoula News Guild is the only current news union in Montana.

The Independent is now the second Lee paper to unionize, after Wyoming’s Casper Star-Tribune in February.

Management for the Independent and Lee Enterprises could not be reached for comment.

The irony of a newspaper refusing to comment. 2018 rolls on and the swine grow fatter. From ol’ Hunter S.

In a nation run by swine, all pigs are upward-mobile and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: not necessarily to win, but mainly to keep from losing completely. 


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