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Daily Hampshire Gazette's President Says Union Will 'Erode' The Paper

A Daily Hampshire Gazette staff member wears a pin advocating for a labor union.
Nancy Eve Cohen
Daily Hampshire Gazette editor Dave Eisenstadter wears a pin advocating for a labor union.

Employees at the Daily Hampshire Gazette got a letter Tuesday from the president of the company that owns the paper, saying he opposes the union they're trying to form.

Aaron Julien, president and CEO of Newspapers of New England, Inc., wrote employees that "adding a union to the mix will erode" the newspaper. And that the company would no longer "have the ability to deal directly" with staff.

Julien said a union "would inject an outside third party" into the company's relationship with workers.

Dusty Christensen, a staff writer at the Gazette, said 70 percent of employees who are eligible to be in the union support it. 

“It’s not some outside group trying to weasel its way into the company,” Christensen said. “It's workers saying, we demand a voice.”

Julien said in an interview that he takes the workers' concerns very seriously, and that he'll be talking with employees directly.

Christensen said employees have asked the National Labor Relations Board to authorize an election to form the Pioneer Valley Newsguild, which would be part of the National News Guild and the Communication Workers of America.

Employees at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and Springfield Republican have unions, but those at the Berkshire Eagle don't.

Malcolm Emerich, a special projects organizer with the National News Guild, pointed out that unions formed at the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune in the last two months.

"There has been a wave of organizing over the past three years," he said. "The word on every manager's lips in media is, 'Do more with less.'"

Emerich said his group is getting calls from staff at other papers after they heard about the union effort at the Gazette.

Correction: An earlier version of this report misspelled Dusty Christensen's name.

Nancy Eve Cohen is a senior reporter focusing on Berkshire County. Earlier in her career she was NPR’s Midwest editor in Washington, D.C., managing editor of the Northeast Environmental Hub and recorded sound for TV networks on global assignments, including the war in Sarajevo and an interview with Fidel Castro.
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