Updated: 1 min 46 sec ago
July 26, 2016
Fredericksburg mother and union member is facing deportation back to the abuse that she fled 14 years ago. Wendy Soveida Uruchi Contreras (at right), a Washington-Baltimore News Guild (WBNG) member who works at CASA de Maryland, is in deportation proceedings after being picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently. She fled Spain in 2002 after enduring years of abuse from her alcoholic stepfather. She's now married and has two young children born here in the United States. CASA is leading a campaign on Contreras' behalf, reaching out to organizations and institutions she has worked with for letters of support and on Sunday WBNG sent a letter of support to the Department of Homeland Security. Members of TNG's Executive Council also voted to send a letter in support of allowing Contreras to remain in the US. "Wendy has been a model employee at CASA fighting for the benefits of all people," wrote Guild Executive Director Cet Parks, "Wendy is a huge contributor to our American community." Metro Council Executive Director Carlos Jimenez has also sent a letter of support and nearly 500 people have already signed a petition supporting Contreras.
Susannah NesmithJuly 20, 2016Columbia Journalism Review
Journalists at The Ledger, a local newspaper in Lakeland, Florida, that dates to 1924, announced this week that they have taken steps to unionize. If the drive is successful, The Ledger would be the only paper in the state with a unionized newsroom. The move, said Gary White, a reporter and one of the leaders of the union effort, comes out of “a sense of desperation” exacerbated by the actions of owner Gatehouse Media, which bought The Ledger and other papers in the former Halifax chain in January 2015. “Those of us remaining in the newsroom have seen so many people laid off, especially since Gatehouse took over, that we became concerned about The Ledger continuing as a viable newspaper,” White said.
StaffJuly 19, 2016The NewsGuild of New York
The editorial staff of legal news website Law360 on Tuesday petitioned for union representation with The NewsGuild of New York with the goal of improving management and editorial practices and ensuring that employees share in the company’s continued growth. An overwhelming majority of the roughly 130 reporters, editors, and news assistants and apprentices at Law360 across the United States have signed on to the drive for Guild representation. They called on management to voluntarily recognize their union. Law360 is owned by LexisNexis Group, a subsidiary of RELX Group [NYSE: RELX, RENX]. “We are excited to welcome this talented group of legal journalists to our union, and we call on Law360 to recognize the will of the majority of its editorial employees to have union representation,” local President Peter Szekely said.Featured Title: Editorial Staff at Legal Website Law360 Seek to Join NY Guild
StaffJuly 19, 2016Florida NewsGuild LAKELAND, Florida — The newsroom staff of The Lakeland Ledger took a major step this week toward forming a union dedicated to preserving high-quality journalism amid cutbacks and mounting financial pressures in the newspaper industry. Reporters, photographers, copy editors and other employees in The Ledger’s newsroom signed cards stating their desire to be represented by The NewsGuild-CWA. The cards, filed Monday at the Tampa regional office of the National Labor Relations Board, will trigger an NLRB-monitored election by Ledger staff members in the next 20 to 40 days. If a majority of those voting casts ballots in favor, the newsroom will unionize and begin working with The Ledger’s corporate owner, GateHouse Media, to negotiate a first labor contract. If the organizing drive is successful, The Ledger, with a daily circulation of 45,900 and Sunday circulation of 61,000, would become the only paper in Florida, and the first in modern memory, to have a unionized newsroom. The NewsGuild would represent 25 to 30 Ledger employees. “The hard-working news staff deserves to have a voice in the decisions that will determine whether The Ledger continues to exist as a valued news source and a viable business,” said Gary White, a Ledger reporter for 14 years. “In forming a union and negotiating a good first contract, the newsroom staff hopes to preserve the journalistic quality and integrity that Polk County residents have relied upon for 92 years.” John Chambliss, a 15-year veteran of The Ledger’s reporting staff, said he and his colleagues are “deeply concerned about the direction of The Ledger under the GateHouse business model. Unionization introduces democracy into the workplace, giving the employees a voice in their working conditions.” GateHouse Media, based in Pittsford, New York, is one of the largest publishers of newspapers in the country. It is part of New Media Investment Group, a publicly traded company. Chambliss said it’s been more challenging to provide the coverage that Ledger readers have come to expect since GateHouse acquired the paper in January 2015. Since then, at least 21 newsroom employees have been laid off, at least six other unfilled positions have been eliminated, and the paper’s Winter Haven bureau, which produces stories for GateHouse’s News Chief newspaper, has gone from four employees to one. The Ledger has found it hard to retain experienced journalists when newsroom employees have gone more than eight years without pay raises, Chambliss said. A mission statement drafted and signed by newsroom employees interested in affiliating with The NewsGuild, formerly known as The Newspaper Guild-CWA, says they “recognize that The Ledger is a business, and we want it to succeed. For that to happen, newsroom employees need a role in how The Ledger is operated. A good contract will give us that essential voice.” FULL MISSION STATEMENT: As future members of the News Guild, we are dedicated to negotiating a labor contract that gives journalists a voice in preserving and enhancing The Ledger as a respected, sustainable institution in the community.
For nearly 100 years, The Ledger has been a voice of Polk County. It has served the community as a government watchdog, a source of information and entertainment and a trusted part of people's lives.
We recognize that The Ledger is a business, and we want it to succeed. For that to happen, newsroom employees need a role in how The Ledger is operated. A good contract will give us that essential voice. We're proud of our work. We appreciate every day the opportunity we have to tell the community’s stories.
Business DayJuly 14, 2016The New York Times
In this New York Times report, Fortress Investment Group, the hedge fund behind Gatehouse media and one of Wall Street's most powerful private equity firms, illustrates the power that private equity firms are exercising over state legislatures. "Since the 2008 financial crisis, Fortress and other private equity firms have rapidly expanded their influence, assuming a pervasive, if under-the-radar, role in daily American life, an investigation by The New York Times has found. Sophisticated political maneuvering — including winning government contracts, shaping public policy and deploying former public officials to press their case — is central to this growth. Yet even as private equity wields such influence in the halls of state capitols and in Washington, it faces little public awareness of its government activities, The Times found."Featured Title: How Private Equity Found Power and Profit in State Capitols
Jeannette CoopermanJuly 14, 2016St. Louis Magazine
In this Q&A with St. Louis magazine, retired Post-Dispatch reporter Michael Sorkin, who was an active member of the United Media Guild, remembers some of the city's most lurid stories that he dug into with gusto. The interviewer notes that Sorkin hasn't "forgotten a single incidence of his former editors’ 'journalistic cowardice'—he’s referred publicly to the “series of mostly mean, sometimes alcoholic, or just plain weasel-like top editors who have cycled through the newsroom during past decades.”
StaffJuly 13, 2016Media Life
There was time real newspapermen made fun of Gannett. It was the plain vanilla newspaper chain and, ugh, creator of USA Today, a compendium of factoids and lighter-than-air features. It was everything newspapers should never become. But that was a time back. Those real newspapermen are retired or dead. The internet came along. The newspaper industry crashed. Gannett is bigger, stronger. And if it ever cared what those old newspapermen thought, you wouldn’t know it. Gannett may not be the future of the American newspaper, but it’s certainly going to grab off a large chunk of that future. Or what’s left of it.
Jay RosenJuly 13, 2016The Washington Post
Writes Jay Rosen, "Trump isn’t behaving like a normal candidate; he’s acting like an unbound one. In response, journalists have to become less predictable themselves. They have to come up with novel responses. They have to do things they have never done. They may even have to shock us."
StaffJune 24, 2016The NewsGuild-CWA The editorial staff of the digital and print publication Foreign Policy voted 16-1 on Thursday to join The NewsGuild-CWA. The workers will be members of the union’s Washington-Baltimore local. “Foreign Policy’s excellent journalists report on issues that are vital to our democracy and to our understanding of the world,” TNG-CWA President Bernie Lunzer said. “They understand that our union fundamentally understands journalism and cares deeply about the integrity of the work they do. We are proud to welcome them to The NewsGuild-CWA.” Lunzer added that the Guild is extremely pleased that management at Foreign Policy has agreed to recognize the union and proceed with bargaining a first contract. In organizing their new union, the workers issued a mission statement that stressed how honored they are to work for Foreign Policy and that they believe that The NewsGuild-CWA is “a natural fit” for them. “FP is a business, and we want it to succeed as such,” they said in the statement. “A union will make the business stronger by giving workers a collective voice. We believe that guild membership will facilitate constructive, amicable, open, and honest conversations that will serve to invigorate the institution.” The following is their statement in full: “Throughout the journalism profession, workforces are choosing union representation. Rightfully so: Union membership has become a best practice for newsroom workers. We are honored to work for Foreign Policy, and to contribute to its award- winning journalism. We love our jobs. That’s why we give so much of ourselves to the publication. We believe in telling overlooked stories, holding those in power accountable, and interrogating the global forces that shape nations, institutions, cultures, and our daily lives. We are forming a union with the Washington-Baltimore News Guild, Local 32035 of the NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America, because it is a natural fit for FP. The Guild is the premier media union in North America, representing 25,000 journalists and other media workers. It is also an international voice for freedom of the press, free speech, and the freedom and safety of journalists around the world. FP is a business, and we want it to succeed as such. A union will make the business stronger by giving workers a collective voice. We believe that Guild membership will facilitate constructive, amicable, open, and honest conversations that will serve to invigorate the institution. As this process unfolds, we enter new territory for FP. We do so with optimism and conviviality, in the spirit of consensus and solidarity.” -30-
Hadas GoldJune 23, 2016Politico
Politico reports on today's victory for Foreign Policy editorial employees who voted 16-1 to join the Washington-Baltimore Guild. The magazine says it will recognize the union and move forward with bargaining. FP is committed to negotiating an agreement that meets the needs of its business while ensuring we maintain a work environment that enables FP staff to continue to produce journalism of the highest quality," magazine spokeswoman Maria Ory said. In a mission statement, staff said they are honored to work for the magazine and believe the Guild is a "natural" fit. "The Guild is the premier media union in North America, representing 25,000 journalists and other media workers. It is also an international voice for freedom of the press, free speech, and the freedom and safety of journalists around the world," workers said.Featured Title: Foreign Policy Mag Editorial Employees Vote to Join NewsGuild
StaffJune 22, 2016The Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Guild is rolling out a new health care benefit for members, a year after launching the highly praised telemedicine service, "Call a Doctor Plus." Now members and their families will have free 24/7 access to a licensed, professional employee assistance program (EAP) and to work/life counselors "who can provide confidential, short-term support with a wide range of personal and work/life issues," the local reports.Featured Title: Philly Rolls Out New Benefit for Members, 'HealthAdvocate'
StaffJune 17, 2016The NewsGuild-CWA NewsGuild members at The Denver Post, pictured, and around the country are fighting for quality journalism. (Photo by Patrick Traylorf/The Denver Post.) Washington, D.C. -- Digital First Media workers and advocates for responsible and quality journalism are launching a campaign today to demand investor transparency by Alden Global Capital, the hedge fund that purchased Digital First Media newspapers and properties beginning in 2009. Since then, Alden has been seizing the assets of Digital First Media newspapers: selling real estate, slashing newsroom staff, and outsourcing work to drive up profits for privileged investors. Alden’s actions are affecting local and community coverage and diversity in newsrooms and on the newspapers’ editorial pages. Alden Global Capital is known as a vulture fund, and is secretive even by hedge fund standards, with money stashed in notorious tax havens around the world. Its actions are not only hurting newspaper employees but are limiting coverage of community issues and harming long-established editorial voices. Alden’s founder, Randall Smith, is a major donor to right-wing candidates and to the Republican Party. Hundreds of prominent journalists, newspaper workers, and advocates for quality journalism are petitioning Alden, demanding full transparency about the hedge fund’s investments and investors, as well as its political donations. “Alden is one of the largest newspaper owners in the United States, yet it operates as a dark web of complex business structures to hide itself from public view,” said Bernie Lunzer, president of The NewsGuild-CWA. “Alden is laying off the very journalists who’d be reporting this kind of vital information to the public. We believe the public has a right to demand complete transparency about Alden.” The campaign is using the hashtag #NewsMatters to spotlight the vital role that journalism plays in our democracy and to build more public support. “Alden can’t and shouldn’t operate in the shadows while it’s strip-mining its newspapers,” said Sara Steffens, secretary-treasurer of the Communications Workers of America, and a former DFM employee who was laid off from her reporting position at the Contra Costa Times. “Alden should invest in these highly profitable papers so that they can properly serve their communities.” The NewsGuild-CWA represents 870 workers at 12 DFM newspaper bargaining units nationwide, 11 of which have expired contracts. Many workers haven’t had a raise for seven to 10 years. The newspapers include the Denver Post, San Jose Mercury News, East Bay Times, Monterey Herald, St. Paul Pioneer Press, The Macomb Daily and the Daily Tribune, Kingston Freeman, Pottstown Mercury, The Delaware County Times, The Trentonian, and the Norristown Times-Herald. --
Janelle HartmanJune 16, 2016The NewsGuild-CWA CWA President Chris Shelton hugs Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who helped bring the 45-day Verizon strike to and end. Photos below show Perez speaking, and his eager audience. In a speech that focused largely on the Verizon strike and the new overtime rule, U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez also managed to salute the power of the press. Speaking Wednesday morning to the 2016 CWA Legislative-Political conference near Capitol Hill, Perez noted that his involvement in helping bring the 45-day Verizon strike to an end last month wasn’t “the first time I have spent a fair amount of time with CWA.” While serving on the Montgomery County Council in Maryland more than a decade ago, he said, CWA activists approached him about writing a letter to Comcast to ask the cable giant to remain neutral in the union’s organizing drive. "I thought about it for a nanosecond and I said, ‘of course,’” Perez said, recalling his days growing up in the “good union town” of Buffalo, N.Y., and having a Teamster as a surrogate father after his dad died. “So I was happy to do that,” Perez said. “I wrote the letter to Comcast, along with a colleague of mine, and this may come as a surprise to you, but they did not remain neutral in that campaign. Not only did they not remain neutral, when the dispute went to the NLRB, I was on vacation one August and I got a call from my assistant. She was very flustered.” She told him that he’d been subpoenaed by Comcast in the labor dispute. “What should we do?” she asked nervously. “I said, ‘Get me the number of the reporter from The Washington Post.’” The next day or so in the Metro section was a story about Comcast subpoenaing Perez and another county commissioner, and their reply, that they wouldn’t be bullied by the company. “And they withdrew the subpoenas,” Perez said triumphantly. The company wasn't finished with Perez, though. Executives found out he was a University of Maryland fan and invited him to the company’s box at the Comcast Center. “I can get my own tickets to Maryland games,” he told them. He described that series of events as his first CWA “foxhole,” with the most recent being the Verizon strike involving 40,000 CWA and IBEW members in the northeast. Workers had been on the picket lines for more than four weeks when Perez called both union’s presidents and Verizon’s CEO and asked if they would meet with him at the Department of Labor. Over the next 13 days, negotiating teams effectively set up camp at the DOL. “We had some good days and some bad days, but we were all in that room together,” Perez said. “What I will never forget is the passion, the commitment and the spirit of constructive engagement.” He described the final result, with many issues resolved in the union’s favor a “win-win” for both sides. For CWA and IBEW, the victory includes 1,300 new East Coast call center jobs, reversal of several outsourcing initiatives and raises totaling 10.9 percent over four years. Introducing Perez at the conference, CWA President Chris Shelton said the labor secretary’s outreach was what “began to break the logjam of the Verizon negotiations.” “I cannot over emphasize how essential he was to helping us reach an agreement. How gracious he and his staff were, when they literally opened up his offices to us and the company,” Shelton said. “Tom stuck with us into the wee hours of the night. He was effective. He was smart. He was open. He was creative. He was tough and he was honest.” Perez said he wanted CWA members to know how “exceedingly well represented” they were by CWA’s leaders, negotiators and lawyers during the talks. “Collective bargaining is sometimes messy but I’ll tell you, collective bargaining to me is one of the most important forces that has brought us the middle class in this country.” The marathon bargaining inside the DOL wasn’t the only major work going on at the time, Perez said, citing the department’s May 18 announcement of changes that will make millions more Americans eligible for overtime. The problem with the rule as it stood was that the companies were too easily able to classify workers as “management,” working them 60 or 70 hours a week with no overtime. He explained that “the threshold that separated overtime-eligible workers from overtime-exempt workers,” hadn’t been indexed for inflation. “So if we just go back to when Gerald Ford was president, and we indexed that threshold that was there in 1975 to today, the threshold would be something like $58,000 a year.” In reality, without the new rule, the threshold is “$23,000 and change,” he said. Further making a mess of things was a George W. Bush-era regulation that “took all the leverage from workers and gave it to employers. So what happened, you can now work 70 hours a week, 99 percent of your time is stocking shelves, one percent is management, and under that new ‘duties test’ you are a manager.” The changes, which go into effect Dec. 1, will help more than 13 million people by either raising their wages or giving them time that they might otherwise be spending working unpaid hours. “Middle-class jobs deserve a middle-class wage,” Perez said. “There is no freedom in working for free, my friends.”
StaffJune 16, 2016Philadelphia Inquirer
Bill Brown, a Korean War veteran who became a photojournalists for UPI and the Philadelphia Inquirer and went on to service as an international representative for the Guild, has died. In 1978 he helped striking union employees in Wilkes Barre found the Citizens' Voice, a newspaper that continues to operate to this day. His successful start-up there led to an offer to become the publisher of the Royal Oak (Michigan) Tribune where he worked in the early 1980's. He later returned to the Philadelphia area where he served as publisher of the Main Line Times.Featured Title: RIP: Bill Brown, Retired Guild Rep, Photojournalist, Publisher
Bernie Lunzer, PresidentJune 16, 2016The NewsGuild-CWA Bernie Lunzer, president of The NewsGuild-CWA made the following statement today on the issue of non-compete clauses, following Wednesday’s announcement of a settlement between Law360 and the New York attorney general’s office.
“A non-compete clause is an outrageous demand that adds insult to injury for poorly paid employees, limiting their right and ability to better themselves by seeking new challenges and higher pay. Usually we’re not talking about people with long and specialized careers, but young and less experienced workers who are trying to climb the career ladder and fully join America’s middle class. These clauses can literally derail their future success. We applaud the New York attorney general’s office for recognizing this, but we believe that changing employers’ practices will require more action. The NewsGuild-CWA is discussing a push for national legislation to put an end to these senseless clauses and the unjust limits they put on journalists and other workers.”
Peter Szekely, president of The NewsGuild of New York, also issued a statement about the settlement: Read it HERE.
For background and more about the decision, click to read a Bloomberg BNA report.
Kristen HareJune 13, 2016Poynter
A text woke Charles Minshew up early Sunday morning. "Horrible news out of Orlando," a friend from grad school texted at 6:46 a.m. Minshew, a multimedia artist at the Orlando Sentinel, was half asleep. Maybe his friend was talking about the Friday shooting of singer Christina Grimmie, he thought. He looked online. "Oh God," he responded 10 minutes later. "I just saw this." He started shaking while he was getting ready. And he thought: This can not be happening again. Four years ago, Minshew was an intern at The Denver Post. Then, he helped make an interactive timeline of the Aurora theater shooting. On Sunday, he started working from home on a timeline for the Orlando nightclub shooting. "This is not a day I thought I would live twice," he said
StaffJune 12, 2016Communications Workers of America Washington, D.C. -- The Communications Workers of America issued this statement on the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando today. The Communications Workers of America mourns the victims of the massacre in Orlando. There is no room in our country for such hatred, yet such tragedies are occurring far too often. The investigation into this tragedy is on-going. However, it’s clear that LGBTQ people were targeted by the gunman. We call on this country to replace hate with love. Shamefully, some elements already are using this horrific tragedy to push their political agenda and are condemning President Obama for his call to our nation to respect all people and all faiths. We stand with the President who has called this massacre an act of terror, in this case directed at LGBTQ Americans, and join all Americans who are sickened by the continuing carnage and loss of innocent life in our nation. We agree with the President that thoughts and prayers are not enough. We join in the demand for changes that will restore responsible gun ownership to communities across the nation.
Peter SzkeleyJune 10, 2016The NewsGuild of New York
Following today’s announcement that online publisher Gawker Media Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the aftermath of a $140 million judgment against it, NewsGuild of New York President Peter Szekely issued the following statement: "Gawker’s flight to bankruptcy protection is the culmination of an alarming new type of attack on the freedom of the press. When a billionaire finances an unrelated libel suit for sport as easily as placing a bet on a horse, we all lose. Using the power of money this way can only stifle the determined journalism that underpins our democracy. A truly free society requires journalists to be able to do their jobs, even when it offends the super-rich, without fear of triggering crippling lawsuits."
Benjamin MullinJune 10, 2016Poynter
Gawker Media, the pioneering digital media company that has become mired in seemingly endless legal entanglements at the behest of a vengeful Silicon Valley billionaire, filed for bankruptcy this afternoon. The filing is a maneuver intended to prevent Hulk Hogan — the ex-professional wrestler who earlier this year won a $140-million-plus invasion-of-privacy judgment against Gawker Media — from collecting his bounty, according to Recode's Peter Kafka. The company will now be put up for auction, with a $100 million offer from publisher Ziff Davis LLC as the opening bid.
Melissa NelsonJune 15, 2016The NewsGuild-CWA
The NewsGuild-CWA holds contracts with more than 300 media organizations in the United States and Canada. These reporter salaries (with number of years to achieve on the right) represent the minimum amounts required in Guild collective bargaining agreements based on the various experience levels at the organizations listed below. The rates were effective on or before January 1, 2016. Actual salaries may be higher based on contract provisions that allow for salary payments above these minimum levels. Click HERE to see the full chart.