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Bangor Daily News Staff is Forming a Union with News Guild of Maine

Andy O’Brien
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The newsroom staff of the Bangor Daily News and Bangor Publishing Co. announced on Wednesday that they are unionizing with the News Guild of Maine, Local 31128 of the NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America.

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The staff say they choose to work at the BDN because they value an independent press, and are committed to reporting the truth about local governments, schools and institutions, and to telling the stories of Mainers.

“What is the BDN? It's us, the reporters, photographers, web editors and designers who produce the newspaper every day,” said BDN photojournalist Troy Bennett. “Let's seize this opportunity to come together and bargain on the matters directly affecting us. It'll strengthen the paper and all of Maine journalism.”

The BDN workers say they are unionizing in order to improve working conditions, advocate for pay equity, fair reimbursement and benefit policies, and work schedules that reflect the actual time and effort they put into their jobs. 

“In the bit more than two years that I've been with the BDN, I've seen many smart, caring reporters come and go,” said BDN political reporter Jessica Piper. “For the newspaper to thrive, we need talented staff to stay. Our union can ensure that everyone at the BDN has a seat at the table, and that staffers are empowered and supported as we work to inform our communities.”

With a fair contract, the BDN news staff say they can keep staffing levels sufficient so that they can fulfill the paper's mission, and reduce destabilizing staff turnover.

“In my experience, 95% of the stress in my job comes from inside, not outside the BDN,” said criminal justice reporter Judy Harrison. “If the company wants people to stay for 20 years or more, as I have, things must change. A union can help shepherd in those changes that will be advantageous to employees like me, who are getting toward the end of their careers, and people like my many young colleagues who are just beginning theirs.”

“I've been a journalist in Maine for 35 years, the bulk of which has been spent with the Bangor Daily News. I can't imagine doing anything else with anyone else. While it sounds cliche, it's like family,” said BDN feature writer Julia Bayly. “And, like all families, over time people and dynamics change. You still love them, but recognize that steps must be taken to keep the family strong and viable.”

The Bangor Daily News is Maine’s most-visited digital news website, and one of its oldest newspapers, operating as a family-owned business since 1889.