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Roanoke Times Staffers Reach Agreement With Parent Company In Iowa

According to an April 12 Press Release, the journalists of the Timesland News Guild have reached a new contract with corporate owner Lee Enterprises that secures important protections and employee pay raises.

This is the second contract for the newsroom union that formed in 2020. The guild represents about 30 people at The Roanoke Times and Laker Weekly.

The new contract is the result of tireless advocacy by guild members and supporters of local news. The announcement of the agreement’s ratification comes one week after a picket was organized in downtown Roanoke outside the former home of The Roanoke Times.

The community also rallied around the guild and its journalists during an earlier petition campaign.

The new contract will be in effect for two years. Highlights include:

  • Guild members will see across-the-board raises of 2% in each year of the agreement. In addition, the minimum, full-time pay offered in its newsrooms will rise to $40,000, an increase of about 12%, between now and 2023.
  • Equity adjustment raises were also secured to continue efforts championed by the guild to fix pay gaps within the newsrooms. Together, the inequity corrections and higher minimum pay rate mean nearly half the guild will get a raise above 2%.

Lee Enterprises fought proposals for wage increases. But Timesland negotiators pressed for them as vital to the future of the guild’s newspapers, and their ability to continue recruiting and retaining dedicated journalists.

“We fought incredibly hard for additional pay raises and a higher minimum so The Roanoke Times can stay competitive with other papers,” said Alison Graham, union vice chair and bargaining committee member. “Wages and other benefits ensure that our newspaper can continue to punch above its weight and drive important news coverage in Southwest Virginia.”

Timesland members are also assured of better layoff policies, additional parental leave and expanded paid time off under the new contract.

Lee Enterprises resisted raising its mileage reimbursement rate to the IRS standard – a point highlighted in the guild’s petition campaign – but announced it would voluntarily increase its prior rate by several cents per mile beginning this month.

The Timesland News Guild’s bargaining committee spent two months in negotiations with Iowa-based Lee.

“We didn’t achieve everything we wanted, but we could not have secured these new benefits without the inspiring support and help of our community,” said Alicia Petska, guild chair and bargaining committee member.

“Thanks to the public’s advocacy for local news, as well as the efforts of our members, we arrived at a contract that makes important strides and helps make it possible for us to continue serving our readers.”

Contact: Alicia Petska  Cell: 540-494-4351

### About Timesland News Guild: Timesland was formed in 2020 to advocate for the preservation of strong, local journalism. The guild represents reporters, photographers, copy editors and other newsroom staff at The Roanoke Times and Laker Weekly. The Timesland name comes from a term coined by Roanoke journalists in the 1950’s to describe the region served by these hometown papers. The guild is a unit of NewsGuild-CWA, which represents more than 24,000 journalists and media workers in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, including The Charlottesville Daily Progress, The Virginian-Pilot, The Washington Post and Reuters.

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