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Billings Gazette Staff Vote To Unionize

Nicky Ouellet
Yellowstone Public Radio

Staff at the Billings Gazette, Montana’s largest daily newspaper, voted to unionize. The National Labor Relations Board announced Thursday the mail-in vote was unanimous, although two ballots were not returned in time for the tally.

Victor Flores, Gazette sports reporter and a member of the organizing committee, said the staff wanted a union so they would have a voice at the table.

"That pretty much sums it up in one sentence, why we did this and what our goal was. It was not for any one specific grievance and or thing that we were looking for," Flores said. "I think there are a lot of things we would like improve and a lot of things we would like to see changed, but overall, yeah, a little more voice, a little more power in the process."

Flores said the next step is to put together a proposed contract and a bargaining unit. No date has been set yet.

The Gazette is the second newspaper in the state to unionize. In 2018 the Missoula Independent voted to unionize after being purchased by Lee Enterprises, which then closed the alternative weekly.

Lee Enterprises, a Davenport, Iowa-based company, owns the Billings Gazette, Missoulian, Helena Independent Record, Ravalli Republic and Montana Standard in Butte.

Copyright 2020 Yellowstone Public Radio

Kay Erickson has been working in broadcasting in Billings for more than 20 years. She spent well over a decade as news assignment editor at KTVQ-TV before joining the staff at YPR. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a degree in broadcast journalism. Shortly after graduation she worked in Great Falls where she was one of the first female sports anchor and reporter in Montana.
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