© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

San Antonio Report Union calls Wednesday layoff of colleague by the newsroom 'illegal'

San Antonio Report Union members and their NewsGuild representative.
Courtesy photo
San Antonio Report Union
San Antonio Report Union members and their NewsGuild representative.

Workers with the newly established San Antonio Report Union walked off the job on Wednesday morning and filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the San Antonio Report with the National Labor Relations Board over the decision by the newsroom's management to lay off a coworker.

In a statement from the San Antonio Report Union on X, formerly known as Twitter, they said the decision to lay off editor Sandra Santos was illegal.

“@SAReportUnion is on a legally protected unfair labor practice strike after @SAReport management laid off a valued member of our staff this morning,” the statement said. “This layoff is illegal given we are in a critical period under the NLRB, we are filing an ULP with the National Labor Relations Board.”

Workers who walked off the job for the ULP strike on Wednesday will return on Thursday.

Journalists at the digital nonprofit newsroom announced their union last week, they and have sought voluntary recognition of their union from their management, despite management’s failure to meet a Jan. 18 deadline to recognize them.

On Tuesday, San Antonio Report CEO and publisher Angie Mock told TPR, “We signaled a likelihood that we will voluntarily recognize the union as quickly as possible, and we are diligently working toward that end.”

Workers told TPR earlier in the week they had been made aware at the start of the month that budget cuts were likely, but that they were not told how much would be cut or whether it would involve layoffs. Iris Dimmick, a senior reporter at San Antonio Report, said regardless of management’s plans before last week, the law prevented them from laying off workers — at least for now.

“While we are in this critical period, from the time we announced until two weeks after that and we have an election, this is a blatant change in working environment not only for Sandra but for the rest of the team,” Dimmick said.

She said management’s decision was one more example of why she and her coworkers need a union.

“That’s what we were hoping to achieve with the union, is some open, transparent conversations — and some hard conversations — about how we can move forward and how we can keep our team together,” Dimmick said. “To my knowledge, there’s never been layoffs before at The Report.”

Mock did not respond to TPR's request for comment about the layoff or the union's response.

Dimmick said Santos was an essential part of their newsroom. “We’re heartbroken that we lost an integral part of our team,” she said. “Sandra was one of our trusted editors, who stayed up late, worked hard, got our stories over the finish line almost every day. And it’s hard to imagine our newsroom without her.”

The logo for the San Antonio Report Union. It depicts La Antorcha de la Amistad sculpture in the center flanked with two blue bonnets.
San Antonio Report Union
The San Antonio Report Union logo.

Lindsey Carnett, an environment reporter at San Antonio Report, said the loss of Santos made the problem of diversity in newsroom leadership even worse.

“We don’t have a ton of people of color in leadership roles at the San Antonio Report,” Carnett said. “Sandra is a woman of color, so to see her get laid off is extra heartbreaking.”

Dimmick said management had multiple opportunities to inform them in advance of the layoff when they requested to meet with them twice, and that they would still accept voluntary recognition.

“In terms of voluntary recognition, the ball’s in their court,” she said. “They’ve indicated to [TPR] and to others that they want to, and that would be great. But that doesn’t change the fact that we believe they have violated the law by laying Sandra off during this critical period.”

Workers have set up a GoFundMe for Santos to help her stay afloat while she figures out what to do next.

TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.