Feb 21, 2024 - News

San Antonio Express-News and MySA journalists move to unionize

Illustration of a megaphone made of newspaper

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Employees of the San Antonio Express-News and MySA.com announced their plans to form a union Wednesday.

Why it matters: This is at least the fourth major union drive from Texas journalists so far this year, highlighting their concern about a shrinking and increasingly unstable media landscape.

  • Journalists across the country have turned to unions in recent years to try and sustain local news amid cuts in staffing and resources.

Details: Hearst, the parent company of both the Express-News and MySA, declined organizers' request for voluntary recognition Wednesday. The union said it will file for an election with the National Labor Relations Board.

  • Organizers plan to advocate for fair wages, competitive benefits and layoff protections, they said in a news release.

By the numbers: The union would represent about 68 journalists across the two newsrooms, per organizers.

  • About 68% of those have already signed on to support the union.

What they're saying: "The truth is we've needed union representation at the Express-News for a long time, and we're glad this day has finally arrived," Elaine Ayala, a metro columnist for the Express-News, said in a statement.

  • "The news industry is shifting so rapidly that newsrooms are always facing drastic changes to keep up, including layoffs," Steven Santana, a digital reporter at MySA, said in a statement. "That's why forming a union is necessary."
  • Many journalists at Express-News and MySA enjoy their job and benefits, organizers said, and want to ensure that continues through any future changes in management and the industry.

The other side: "We look forward to making the case to our employees, on the merits, that it's not in their best interest to unionize the Express-News newsroom," Jeff Johnson, president of Hearst Newspapers, said in a statement.

  • Mark Medici, Express-News publisher, said the paper increased the salary for entry-level journalists last year to attract and retain talent.
  • "Express-News journalists receive annual merit raises, and they have experienced none of the harsh austerity so pervasive in the news industry of late, including furloughs, pay cuts and layoffs," Medici said.

Context: Journalists at the San Antonio Report, Texas Tribune and Houston Landing — all nonprofit newsrooms, unlike the Express-News and MySA — have announced union drives this year.

What we're watching: Heading into 2024, analysts predicted that digital advertising, a key part of newsrooms' success, will only grow in the mid-single digits for the foreseeable future, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.

Disclosure: The writer of this story previously worked at the Express-News.

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