Employees of the Committee to Protect Journalists have decided that they need union protection themselves. More than 90% of the 30-member staff have signed union cards asking to be represented by the WGA East, and CPJ’s management has agreed voluntarily to recognize the guild as their staff’s collective bargaining representative.
“We are honored to represent people who devote their professional lives to protecting journalists, to telling the stories of journalists who do important and difficult work in perilous times,” said Lowell Peterson, the guild’s executive director. “We look forward to continuing our strong, productive relationship with CPJ.”
Said CPJ executive director Joel Simon. “The CPJ staff is tremendously effective, and as leaders of this organization we are proud of the work they do to advance press freedom and defend the rights of journalists. We look forward to working with the union to make CPJ the best possible place to work.”
In 2009, the guild presented the CPJ with its Evelyn F. Burkey Award, which recognizes a person or an organization “whose contributions have brought honor and dignity to writers everywhere.” According to the guild, the CPJ “has been at the center of the fight to defend freedom of the press around the world. It has brought international attention to journalists who have been threatened, held captive or murdered in the line of duty.”
In a statement, the CPJ Organizing Committee said that “We look forward to the successful completion of the collective bargaining process and anticipate that this new structure for representation in the workplace will help our staff work even more effectively to advance CPJ’s critical mission.”
The statement went on to say:
“Since 1981, CPJ has been a leading global voice on behalf of press freedom, defending the right of journalists around the world to report the news safely and without fear of reprisal. We all believe wholeheartedly in this mission and are humbled and honored to work with the courageous journalists we have the privilege to support, as well as our committed colleagues, who bring passion, expertise and empathy to this important work.
“In the past few years, CPJ has grown significantly in all areas: budget, staff and consultants, global reach, visibility and scope of projects. As we continue to expand and adapt in response to evolving threats to press freedom around the world, we want to ensure that our internal structures can do the same. Through union representation we can strengthen our workplace culture and ensure that all staff–from longtime employees to new hires–have the necessary support and protection to carry out CPJ’s mission.
“We are proud to work at an organization that has taken steps to provide comprehensive benefits for its staff and are confident that CPJ leadership is committed to staff wellbeing. With that in mind, we look forward to collaborating with management on issues including equitable and transparent compensation structures; fair hiring, disciplinary, and termination practices; staff input in decision making; and fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace.
“Unions have long played a fundamental role in ensuring accountability within the workplace. As an organization that prides itself on holding states and institutions around the world accountable, it is in keeping with our values to stand in solidarity with the unions that are advocating for journalists and newsrooms around the world, and to add our own voices to that call.”