The Almanac newsroom staff forms union

by Contributed Content on September 29, 2023

The newsroom staff of Embarcadero Media, which includes The Almanac, announced that they are forming a union to confront concerns about newsroom turnover, budget cuts and resource limitations.

The vast majority, nearly 90% of non-management newsroom staff, have signed cards authorizing union representation by The Pacific Media Workers Guild, NewsGuild-CWA Local 39521. They are asking Embarcadero Media leadership to voluntarily recognize the Embarcadero Community News Guild as a unit of the Communication Workers of America.

Founded in 1979, the company now operates three community newspapers and nine news and entertainment publications: the Palo Alto Weekly, the Pleasanton Weekly, The Almanac, the Mountain View Voice,, the Redwood City Pulse, The Six Fifty, the Peninsula Foodist and the Livermore Vine.

Non-management newsroom staff, which includes reporters, editors, designers and visual journalists, said they’re forming a union across their divisions to cultivate a more diverse, equitable newsroom that supports its employees with living wages and allows them to have a say in their job descriptions and the future direction of the company.

The Embarcadero Community News Guild also wants to ensure that freelancers and interns are compensated fairly for their work.

“We all deserve to be paid a livable wage,” said Angela Swartz, staff writer for The Almanac. “I would like to see our company become more inclusive, as a lot of the time the people who can afford to stay with the company have support through spouses or family, while other employees without that outside support leave because they can’t afford to live here. I love working here and it’s sad to see so many talented people leave because they have to work two jobs to afford to live here or are just overworked.”

News organizations that have recently voluntarily recognized staff guilds include CalMatters, Cityside, ProPublica, Reveal CIR, and Politico/E&E News.

“There’s more work than ever and fewer people than ever doing that work,” said Palo Alto Weekly staff writer Gennady Sheyner. “I hope (management) will embrace the union and work with us as partners to create a stronger future for local journalism.”

“I grew up reading the Palo Alto Weekly and the Mountain View Voice and this decline is depressing,” said Embarcadero Media graphic designer Douglas Young. “Hopefully the company takes our concerns seriously and takes steps to better our situation.”

“At Embarcadero Media, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the most diligent, creative and thoughtful people around,” said Julia Brown, editor of The Six Fifty publication. “I want to help preserve Embarcadero Media’s future and leave the company in a better place than we found it for our readers and employees.”

PMWG is Local #39521 of The NewsGuild-Communication Workers of America which is based in San Francisco, representing workers primarily in the Bay Area, Northern California and Hawaii. Journalists and other media workers form the bulk of the membership, but also included are workers from printing operations, union staffs and nonprofits.

Pictured left to right, back row: Sue Dremann, Zoe Morgan, Heather Zimmerman, Angela Swartz, Emily Margaretten, Julia Brown and Gennady Sheyner; front row: Jeanita Lyman, Magali Gauthier and Douglas Young.

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