VTDigger and the VTDigger Guild, the union that represents its newsroom employees, have arrived at their first-ever collective bargaining agreement.
The three-year deal was ratified this month by unanimous votes of the Guild’s members and the board of the nonprofit Vermont Journalism Trust, which operates VTDigger. The contract establishes consistent standards, rewards longevity, guarantees minimum salaries and overtime pay, and continues to solidify the organization’s commitment to improving diversity, equity and inclusion.
Anne Galloway, executive director of the Vermont Journalism Trust, said both the management and Guild bargaining teams brought empathy, flexibility and a diligent exploration of solutions to the process.
“We believe the negotiations have resulted in mutual respect, better communication and excitement about the future,” Galloway said. “The resolution of the contract demonstrates the Guild’s commitment to the VTDigger mission, and management’s willingness to listen deeply and take action.”
The Vermont Journalism Trust and management voluntarily recognized the union in April of 2020, and the two parties have been negotiating a contract since August of that year.
“It has been a long and at times difficult conversation, but we had it as equals, and the organization is much stronger for it,” said Lola Duffort, co-unit chair of the VTDigger Guild. “I am delighted we have arrived — unanimously — at such a robust agreement.”
Contract highlights include:
- A salary floor of $40,000 for reporters and $50,000 for editors
- Guaranteed annual 3% cost-of-living increases for those making less than $50,000, and 2% increases for those making more
- 5 weeks of paid time off to be used for sickness or vacation
- 8 weeks of nearly fully paid parental leave
- Overtime pay for newsroom employees working more than 40 hours per week
- One-time raises of 10% (for those making 49K or more) or 18% (for those making less than 49K) for employees who have been at the organization more than a year
- Job security through just cause
- Up to 3 months of severance pay in the event of layoffs
- Standardized hiring practices that will proactively recruit journalists from underrepresented backgrounds
- Public reporting, on an annual basis, about the organization’s demographic breakdown
Bargaining unit members include staff reporters, photographers and editors working in non-supervisory roles. Reporting fellows become members of the union after their first year at VTDigger.
VTDigger Guild is a part of Providence Newspaper Guild, TNG-CWA Local 31041. The NewsGuild, a member of the Communications Workers of America, represents thousands of journalists across the country, including at the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and digital-only publications like Buzzfeed and The Daily Beast.