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6 Months In, Daily Hampshire Gazette Union, Management Cite Positive Relationship

It's been about six months since workers at The Daily Hampshire Gazette and Valley Advocate in Northampton, Massachusetts, voted 40 to 29 to start the Pioneer Valley NewsGuild.

The union is part of the Providence, Rhode Island, local of the NewsGuild, a sector of the Communication Workers of America.

The Pioneer Valley union includes employees who operate the press or sell advertising, as well as photographers and reporters.

Reporter Bera Dunau, the union’s unit council president, said employees have elected stewards who can respond to complaints. And he said the union and management are having a harmonious relationship.

“We had one that was pretty good before, but now it's excellent post-union,” Dunau said. “And just having the structure of the union, to interact with management and to bring concerns forward — that really has been vital.”

After the union formed, Michael Moses became publisher of Newspapers of New England, Inc.'s publications in Massachusetts. In a perfect world, Moses said, management would prefer there isn't a union. But since it was formed, he said, the company is working closely with it, “answering questions that haven’t been answered in years.”

“There is a positive vibe here that, you know, ironically enough — you would think when a union organizes, that you'd have the opposite effect, right?” Moses said. “That there'd be a polarization. And at least in my estimation, we've had the opposite.” 

The relationship will soon face a big test. The union hopes to sit down with the company this summer to negotiate its first contract.

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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