April 7, 2021
One of South Carolina's oldest and largest newspapers may soon become unionized. An affiliate of the Communication Workers of America recently filed a petition seeking to unionize all non-supervisors who work at The State newspaper. The Carolinas are the least unionized States in the nation, but they are certainly not immune to unionization efforts such as the one at The State as well as elsewhere.
The union seeks to represent "all full-and regular part-time reporters, photographers, editors and producers" at The State. A national newspaper publisher, McClatchy, owns The State along with several other newspapers in South Carolina. One of those is The Island Packet, located in Hilton Head, whose employees became unionized last fall.
Employers currently have the legal right to oppose unionization. During a union campaign, most employers insist that the National Labor Relations Board monitor the voting process and confirm whether the union wins a majority of the votes cast in a secret ballot election. In the union campaign at The Island Packet, however, the employer voluntarily recognized the union based on union cards before the employees could vote in a secret ballot election. What will happen at The State remains to be seen.
Union campaigns regularly occur in the Carolinas, so union-free employers should prepare now by regularly reviewing and updating their workforce policies, plans and training.