Michael Aleo: Support for Gazette, Advocate union effort

  • Alicia Fleming, a member of Jobs with Justice, takes a picture of members of the Pioneer Valley News Guild as well as others including Senator, Jo Comerford, who came to the Gazette to show support for the Union organizers and hand a petition to be given to Publisher and owner, Aaron Julien.

Published: 12/3/2018 9:06:23 AM
Support for Gazette, Advocate union effort

In the wake of the historic midterm elections and Thanksgiving, I am finding myself thankful for a number of things that underpin our democracy. Building up to the elections, I found great meaning (and quite a bit of solace) in throwing myself into Jo Comerford’s campaign for state Senate, as well as in knowing that Elizabeth Silver and hundreds of other volunteers were pouring their energies into ensuring Democrats succeeded in taking back the House.

Since the election, there is one particular thing that came as a surprise that has given me an extra spring in my step that I almost forgot I needed. Donald Trump attacks and threatens the press on a daily basis, constantly sowing doubt about the legitimacy of the very idea of a free press, while at the same time creating an atmosphere where reporters justifiably fear reprisal for delivering us desperately needed news of the day. Although slightly less visible, Trump has been just as committed to attacking and weakening organized labor.

In light of Trump’s attacks on these pillars of our democracy, I was delighted to read, right here on the front page of Hampshire County’s paper of record, that employees at the Daily Hampshire Gazette and the Valley Advocate are in the process of forming a union. During her campaign, Jo Comerford often stressed that Massachusetts must continue to be a laboratory of democracy, where we can prove to the nation at large what is possible when we direct our minds and energies to critical issues.

That is exactly what is happening here. These brave and visionary souls are putting their livelihoods on the line to prove that a vibrant, organized free press is the best way to ensure that we have the watchdog presence in the Valley that we so desperately need. So, I applaud the staff at the Gazette and the Advocate for taking these bold steps. And I urge the parent company of the two papers, Newspapers of New England, to embrace this moment and voluntarily recognize the Pioneer Valley NewsGuild. Your staff, your paper and your readers will all benefit from it.

Michael Aleo
Northampton


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