Call on Columbian leadership to commit to paying living wages to unionized employees

Call on Columbian leadership to commit to paying living wages to unionized employees

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The Columbian Guild started this petition to Publisher Ben Campbell

To the Vancouver community:

On Sunday, The Columbian published an article celebrating 100 years of ownership by the Campbell family. A community newspaper with such a long legacy of local ownership is a rare thing these days, and we are proud of the history of strong journalism we represent.

But what the article did not highlight was the recent years of anti-union and anti-worker policies that have left us without a contract after more than a year of negotiations. We, the newsroom workers of The Columbian Guild, turn to you for support.

The Columbian newsroom unionized more than a year ago on the values of fairness, with the goal of recruiting more diverse journalists to our community, securing adequate leave and vacation policies and more.

We were optimistic at first. The Columbian claims to be one of the “most progressive” employers in the region and was recognized in 2019 by the Labor Roundtable of Southwest Washington as “Business of the Year” for its commitment to working with the labor community.

Yet in the more than a year that has followed, we have made few gains at the bargaining table. On the contrary, The Columbian has wrongfully claimed that policies designed to recruit journalists of color would be illegal. It has rejected the notion that The Columbian must provide its employees with adequate personal protective equipment despite bargaining in the midst of a pandemic. It has refused to budge on its policies of forcing employees to use their earned paid days off for federally recognized holidays. And, The Columbian has declined to engage in meaningful bargaining on a progressive, and reasonable, wage proposal made by the union.

Even The Columbian’s choice of attorney at the bargaining table illustrates its apparent lack of commitment to the values it claims to have. On social media the company’s attorney, L. Michael Zinser, has demonstrated his support for far-right fringe ideas. He has retweeted and liked racist, homophobic and sexist tweets. His website celebrates the firing of a Black labor leader.

We are also concerned about the Campbell family’s history of valuing its own pocketbook over its employee’s livelihoods. Federal records show that between 2008 and 2009, amidst the throes of bankruptcy and layoffs, then publisher Scott Campbell increased his own salary by nearly $200,000 a year – from $10,011 every two weeks to $17,692.

We have proposed a progressive salary schedule that, annually, would cost the company less than Scott Campbell paid himself in 2008 and 2009 while ensuring journalists receive livable wages in our community. The company has told us it is “unwilling” to entertain the notion.

The Campbell family claims to hold progressive values. Yet its behaviors in recent years call that into question. Meanwhile, employees are burned out. Our workforce has shrunk by nearly half while covering more news than ever. If The Columbian is committed to serving its employees -- and its community -- it must engage in meaningful bargaining at the table.

You can help support us in our ongoing negotiations by:

– Writing to Ben Campbell and telling him that, for negotiations to be effective, he must give clear instructions to his representatives at the table that the goal of these negotiations is a mutually acceptable contract, not merely an endlessly prolonged dispute. 
– Sharing your support on social media for The Columbian Guild as it continues to bargain over living wages, the diversification of its workforce, leave and other progressive employment policies.
– Signing this petition.

Thank you for your continued support.

In solidarity,
The workers of The Columbian Guild

0 have signed. Let’s get to 500!
At 500 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!