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'San Antonio Report' voluntarily recognizes newsroom union, denies that layoff was illegal

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.

Members of the San Antonio Report Union announced on Thursday night that management had offered them voluntary recognition, which the journalists at the digital nonprofit newsroom had sought since they announced the union last week.

The union shared the news on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“We are pleased to announce that @SAReport management has voluntarily recognized @SAReportUnion!” the statement said. “We look forward to next steps and working on a contract in good faith at the bargaining table.”

Angie Mock, San Antonio Report CEO and publisher, explained in a statement the recognition process the nonprofit underwent.

“We consulted with our Board of Directors and our Professional Employer Organization, and we also worked to consult and engage experienced labor counsel, who agreed to take on the representation on a pro bono basis — a process that took longer than the January 16 request for recognition,” Mock said. “In the end, we decided it was in everyone’s best interest to voluntarily recognize the Union and provided notification yesterday, nine days after the request.”

The union said the voluntary recognition did not affect their fight with management over the Wednesday layoff of an editor, Sandra Santos, which the union said was a violation of labor law.

“We will also continue to challenge management’s layoff of our esteemed editor @SandraSantos,” the statement said.

Mock said the decision to lay off Santos was painful but denied the allegation that it was illegal.

“With respect to the layoff that was announced on Wednesday, as a small employer it was a very difficult decision to make but all of our employees were made aware of the organization’s financial situation when we ended 2023,” she said. “They were also made aware that our Board of Directors instructed that we undertake efforts to achieve a balanced budget for 2024 and that we undertake all such measures in January, so the layoff decision was made before we received notice from the Union. For these reasons, we absolutely deny that the layoff was illegal.”

Voluntary recognition of the San Antonio Report Union came days after journalists at the statewide nonprofit newsroom The Texas Tribune announced their own union. Their management quickly indicated they were likely to offer voluntary recognition.

Journalists at San Antonio Report have said they want to make improvements on HR procedures, regular raises, the boundary between donors and journalism, diversity, and pay equity — especially for women of color.

Mock said she looked forward to bargaining with the union and achieving a contract that serves the employees and the organization.

The San Antonio Report Union is organized through the Media Guild of the West Local 39213, an affiliate of The News Guild-Communication Workers of America.

San Antonio Report now stands out as one of a handful of unionized news organizations in Texas, a list which includes the Dallas Morning News, the Austin American-Statesman, the Texas Tribune, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.