Missoula Independent newspaper staff files to form union - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Missoula Independent newspaper staff files to form union

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MISSOULA - Missoula Independent employees filed a petition on Monday with the National Labor Relations Board to begin the process of forming a union, according to the Missoula News Guild Organizing Committee.

The Independent, an alternative weekly newspaper which was been publishing since 1991, was purchased by Lee Enterprises last spring and was informed in January that their operations would be moved into the offices of the Missoulian, which is also owned by Lee.

The guild said that in January, Indy staff were told that the move would follow a round of buyouts, layoffs and print frequency reductions that cut into other Lee-owned publications around the state. The guild added that Indy staff raised concerns about maintaining the Indy’s independence in the eyes of its readership and advertisers.

“Lee Enterprises managers have made a point of telling us they consider the Indy a distinct product, and we’ve been assured that cuts aren’t imminent,” said staff reporter and organizing committee member Derek Brouwer. “But when it comes time to reconcile the bottom line, our new parent company’s primary responsibility is to its shareholders on Wall Street. Forming a union will enable us to have a voice in decisions about the Independent’s future and advocate for this community institution.”

Lee also owns the Billings Gazette and newspapers in Helena, Butte and Ravalli County in Montana.

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