Staff at the Missoula Independent weekly newspaper voted unanimously this afternoon to unionize.
A year ago, Lee Enterprises bought the Independent. Iowa-based Lee owns papers across 21 states, including in Billings, Butte, Helena and Missoula.
Derek Brouwer of the newly formed Missoula News Guild says unionizing will protect the Independent’s editorial and stylistic independence.
"My hope is that the Indy can remain, essentially, a sister paper to the Missoulian in this town and not become subsidiary to it, or a niche publication, but can be operated profitably and in a form that maintains its organizational independence," Brower says.
All eight eligible staff members voted in favor of unionizing, and expect to begin collective bargaining negotiations in the next month or two.
The Missoula News Guild is the only current news union in Montana.
The Independent is now the second Lee paper to unionize, after Wyoming’s Casper Star-Tribune in February.
Management for the Independent and Lee Enterprises could not be reached for comment.