Updated: 9 min 9 sec ago
StaffJuly 1, 2015The NewsGuild of New York
Fed up with a new management team that rode roughshod over the contract during a round of layoffs, dozens of Consumer Reports Guild members took the the street during their lunch breaks on Friday to spotlight their company's bad behavior and to show solidarity with their 11 targeted Guild colleagues. Among those improperly targeted in the layoffs, which were announced about a week earlier, were employees who had contractual protection against job cuts and others whose job titles were identical to those management was advertising in other parts of the company. The Guild is grieving the layoffs and has said it will take the case to arbitration if no settlement is reached.Featured Title: Guild Members Rally Against Consumer Reports Layoffs
StaffJune 30, 2015Communications Workers of America
In a statement issued Tuesday, CWA says, "Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association shows how extreme the assault on workers’ bargaining rights has become. The Friedrichs case is an assault on public sector workers, financed by anti-worker and corporate education supporters. These groups have been working for years to stifle the voices of teachers and other public servants in the workplace and strip them of collective bargaining rights."
Associated PressJune 30, 2015The Guardian
Barack Obama has launched a push for salaried workers earning nearly US$1,000 a week to receive overtime pay, with the president declaring that too many Americans are working long hours for less than they deserve. The long-awaited overtime rule from the US labor department would more than double the threshold at which employers can avoid paying overtime, from $455 a week to $970 a week by 2016. That would mean salaried employees earning less than $50,440 a year would be assured overtime if they worked more than 40 hours per week, up from the current $23,660 a year. “We’ve got to keep making sure hard work is rewarded,” Obama wrote in an article for the Huffington Post. “That’s how America should do business. In this country a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.”
Robert BarnesJune 30, 2015The Washington Post
The Supreme Court said Tuesday that it will consider next term whether the rights of government workers are violated when they are compelled to pay fees to unions they do not want to join. The justices will consider a case from a group of California teachers who say paying fees violates their free speech rights when they disagree with the positions the unions take. The Supreme Court nearly 40 years ago said that states may allow unions to collect fees from non-members to pay for collective bargaining costs, but not for the political spending the unions do.
Janelle HartmanJune 29, 2015NewsGuild-CWA Philly members, joined by fellow union and community activists, rally June 25, one day before the company agreed to a strong tentative deal. Solidarity in Philadelphia won the day. After eight grueling months, Guild members at the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Daily News and Philly.com have a tentative two-year agreement that is virtually 180 degrees from what the company had demanded. For years, under a series of owners, Guild members had agreed to cuts and givebacks – paying more out of pocket for health care, taking two-week unpaid furloughs every year since 2009. The new owner tried to squeeze them even harder, wanting astronomical hikes in workers’ share of health care costs. At noon last Thursday, red-shirted Guild members, joined by other unions, prominent labor leaders and community activists, rallied outside the news building. The crowd numbered in the hundreds, a preview of the strike the Guild had voted to authorize. At 11 p.m. Friday, with 25 hours left on the strike clock, Guild leaders, company negotiators and a federal mediator shook hands. The Guild left the table with a deal that has no increases in health care costs, no more furloughs, the return of “added responsibility” pay on weekends, a doubling of severance pay and more, including the first wage scale for Philly.com employees. “It was a total member effort,” said Bill Ross, executive director of the Philadelphia Guild. “They stood up and fought back. They had taken concession after concession and they had nothing else left to give. To see them wearing red shirts and stickers, lots of stickers, it really helped. When the company sent out bulletins telling members how to cross a picket line, that just pissed them off and helped us mobilize even more.” The deal is actually two contracts, one for about 400 Guild-represented employees at the print publications and the other for 50 at Philly.com. Ratification votes are scheduled for July 7 and 8. Between all the member energy and what Ross said were “some politicians behind the scenes,” owner Gerry Lenfest felt the heat. “It was a full court press on him to settle,” Ross said. “He knew that a strike would cripple the company.” Lenfest and a partner, Lewis Katz, both wealthy local businessmen, bought the media company via auction in May 2014 for $88 million – considered a huge overbid. Katz was killed in a plane crash five days later. Ross said Lenfest was left to run a company worth about half his bid. Among its problems was a badly underfunded health care plan that none of the various owners had contributed to for 15 years. Despite early promises to look out for workers, Lenfest ultimately sought to fix the health care plan at their expense. He demanded as much as $200 more per week for employees, who already pay $50 a week for health care. “People could have lost their cars, their homes,” Ross said. “They could have lost their health care because they couldn’t afford to pay their share of it.” Ironically, Ross said, forcing workers to pay such a staggering share of health care costs would have put Lenfest in violation of the Affordable Care Act and cost him an estimated half-million in federal fines. As heated talks continued, so did Lenfest’s well-known philanthropy, giving tens of millions to education, arts and charity. In comparison, the bill to fix the health care plan was a mere $2 million. “Charity begins at home,” was one of the final messages they Guild sent to Lenfest, via stickers and rally slogans. Whatever it was that finally got to Lenfest, the company agreed to no changes at all in the health plan in the first year. If the company wants changes in the second year, those would have to be approved by a committee of trustees – two management-side members along with Guild President Howard Gensler and Ross, who will chair the committee. The company, to an extent, got its way on seniority language. But the Guild maintained the right to grieve or arbitrate any layoff that doesn’t meet seniority standards. And the company agreed to a buyout program to precede any layoffs. The local announced the tentative agreement Saturday, but didn’t release details until today. One member told Ross she knew it had to be a good deal because of the smile on his face in a photo the local shared. “We held our ground,” Ross said. “We’re happy that the bleeding has finally stopped.”
StaffJune 26, 2015NewsGuild-CWA and News Guild of Maine
Statement issued by The NewsGuild-CWA and the News Guild of Maine:
Gov. Paul LePage’s shameful attitude toward the media took an especially ugly turn this week when he joked that he would “like to shoot” a Maine political cartoonist.
To make matters worse, he directed the joke at the teenage son of the cartoonist, George Danby of the Bangor Daily News.
The NewsGuild-CWA and our Maine local are sickened and appalled that any public official would make such a “joke” in any context. To do so at a time when the nation is mourning a mass shooting, and in a year that began with the murder of cartoonists and other journalists at the satirical “Charlie Hebdo” shows the worst possible judgment.
We call on Gov. LePage to make a swift and sincere apology to Mr. Danby and his son. Further, he owes an apology to all journalists for suggesting that violence is the solution to unfavorable news converage. Lastly, he should apologize to his state for once again embarrassing Maine on a national stage.
History suggests he won’t show appropriate regret. We welcome him to prove us wrong.
StaffJune 26, 2015The NewsGuild of New York
Federal authorities on Thursday declared their intent to move against Time Inc., after The NewsGuild of New York accused it of labor law violations that have enabled the publishing giant to outsource Guild-represented journalism jobs and cut its staff. The Manhattan office of the National Labor Relations Board, which enforces the country’s key labor law, told representatives of the Guild and Time Inc. that it would issue a complaint, similar to an indictment, by the end of June, absent a settlement with the NLRB and the Guild. “We hope the government’s findings are a wake-up call for Time Inc. management to come back to the table and negotiate an agreement that respects the interests of its journalists, whose work has given its magazines their reputations for high quality,” said Guild President Bill O’Meara.
Nathan EmpsallJune 26, 2015Care2Petitions
A former newspaper reporter has launched a petition drive to get the media to stop using the term, "officer-involved shooting." Nathan Empsall, who plans to send the petition to The New York Times, Gannett and McClatchy, says the term is an "ambiguous phrase (that) needs to go. This vague wording deflects all potential blame from the officer, obscures what actually happened, and gives all benefit of the doubt to armed authorities, encouraging readers to do the same. That makes it even harder to hold rogue cops or broken police departments accountable. As law professor Craig Martin writes, 'If a dog bites a child, we would not describe the incident as a 'dog-involved biting', and we would find it odd to hear it stated this way. We would simply say that a dog bit a child.'"
Joel MathisJune 26, 2015PhillyMag.com
A crowd of several hundred Philadelphia Guild members and supporters from CWA and other unions rallied outside the headquarters of the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com on Thursday in the fight for a fair contract with affordable health care and seniority rights. eir contract expires at midnight tomorrow, and members have voted to strike, if necessary. Bill Ross, the local's executive director said what happens depends in part on whether the federal mediator overseeing negotiations tries to keep both sides at the table. "We're planning on getting a fair deal," Ross said. "We've helped this employer repeatedly. Our members can't afford to give back one more penny." Photo: International Guild President Bernie Lunzer speaks at Thursday's rally.Featured Title: Contract Expiration Looms as Hundreds Rally in Philly
David MobergJune 25, 2015In These Times
Why did CWA's successful, energic president step down this year, In These Times asks. "After 10 years as president, working at least 80 hours a week, it felt like the right time," says the newly retired Larry Cohen, pictured being arrested with other activists at 2013 rally.. "I’m not complaining; it’s been an honor every single day. But working overwhelmingly within the labor movement, accepting the fundamentally transactional nature of trying to serve the members, creates limitations. I say to CWA-ers, “If your goal is solely your upcoming contract, those contracts are mostly going to be disappointments, unless we turn around what workers’ rights are like in America.” And that's what Cohen plans to spend his retirement doing.Featured Title: Cohen on Organizing a Populist Movement for Real Change
StaffJune 23, 2015Committee to Protect Journalists
The burned body of a journalist was found in the Indian state of Maharashtra on Saturday, the day after he had been kidnapped, according to news reports. The murder of Sandeep Kothari is the second such one of a journalist in India in less than two weeks. "The horrific murder of another journalist in less than two weeks is alarming and is symptomatic of India's entrenched culture of impunity," said CPJ Asia Program Research Associate Sumit Galhotra. "We call on Indian authorities to launch an independent investigation into Sandeep Kothari's death, identify the motive, and bring the perpetrators to justice." Kothari's family said the journalist could have been killed in connection with his coverage of illegal sand mining in the region, the AP reported. Kothari was a freelance reporter who wrote for multiple Hindi-language dailies.
Sam ThielmanJune 22, 2015The Guardian
Major internet providers, including AT&T, Time Warner and Verizon, are slowing data from popular websites to thousands of US businesses and residential customers in dozens of cities across the country, according to a study released on Monday. Results from 300,000 internet users found significant degradations on the networks of the five largest internet service providers (ISPs), representing 75 percent of all wireline households across the US. The findings come weeks after the FCC introduced new rules meant to protect “net neutrality” – the principle that all data is equal online – and keep ISPs from holding traffic speeds for ransom.
Jim RomeneskoJune 22, 2015JimRomenesko.com
A tipster tells Romenesko that the most common complaint on an online bulletin board set up for employees by Forum Communications is the company's refusal to cover birth control in its insurance plan. I"t’s the most common question people are asking, and the company finally admitted it won’t cover birth control because 'the board feels it is a moral issue.' There is obviously a lot of frustration, and for good reason. It seems The Forum doesn’t have to cover birth control as required by the Affordable Care Act because the company’s policy was grandfathered in," the tipster writes. Forum Communications publishes the Fargo (North Dakota) Forum and other newspapers and broadcast companies in four states.
Jeff GordonJune 22, 2015United Media Guild
Pay attention, Gatehouse: The very journalists you're denying higher wages and fair contracts are making you proud with long lists of awards from the Illinois Press Association and the Illinois APME. Congratulations to reporters, photographers and graphic artists at the Rockford Register Star, the State Journal-Register and the Pekin Daily Times.
StaffJune 19, 2015NewsGuild-CWA
The NewsGuild-CWA, representing media workers in North America, stands with the courageous journalists in south London who are striking the Gannett-owned Newsquest.
“What these journalists are fighting for, we are all fighting for,” NewsGuild President Bernie Lunzer said. “Our members face exactly this kind of greed and arrogance from Gannett and other corporate media owners. They reward top executives with fat salaries and bonuses but plead poverty when it comes to raises for employees, even though they are working harder than ever.”
In the strongest possible terms, the Guild calls upon Newsquest/Gannett to show its employees the respect they deserve by paying them fair wages, maintaining adequate staffing levels, ending the constant cycle of cuts and reinvesting in its news products.
“The company fails to understand that the disrespect they are showing to their workers is disrespect to their readers, their customers,” Lunzer said. “You simply cannot keep doing more, or even the same amount of work, or the same quality of work, with eviscerated staffs whose remaining workers are exhausted, stressed and fearful that their job will be the next one to go.”
Oona SolbergJune 19, 2015Ethical Journalism Network
A survey covering media in eight countries on four continents shows that it’s still a males’ world in public radio and television. with male voices heard 66 percent of the time on public radio and 60 percent in public television. Conducted by the International Association of Women in Radio and Television, the survey examined 560 hours of programming during the second week of January in the United States, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, India, Cambodia, Poland and Moldova. The main findings are that men outnumbered women in all roles examined in public radio and television. There is little diversity in terms of producers, or formats and topics approached, or in regard to language spoken and subtitles provided for programmes.
Janelle HartmanNovember 1, 2013NewsGuild-CWA THE annual Freedom Fund Awards ceremony began as so many meetings of journalists do these days, acknowledging what difficult times these are for the industry. And yet, Guild President Bernie Lunzer said, “incredible journalism is still happening.” Two promising students and six gifted professionals were honored Oct. 31 at TNG-CWA headquarters in Washington, D.C. And many more were worthy, judges said. “All of us got this huge box that we could hardly lift filled with entries,” said Reuters journalist Deb Zabarenko, a past Guild Executive Council member who chaired the Heywood Broun Award judging panel. “I thought, ‘How are we ever going to get through this?’” she said. “Then we opened it up and it was more like a holiday package. Every one of them, whether an award winner or not, was worth reading, was worth thinking about.” The Broun award, which comes with a $5,000 prize, is named for the crusading New York City columnist who helped found the Guild in 1933. The award honors superb journalism that also carries on Broun’s tradition of fighting injustice, of “giving voice to the voiceless,” as his work is often described. His legacy has inspired many journalists, including this year’s Broun winner. “I was very aware of Heywood Broun and studied his writings,” New York Times reporter Rod Nordland said. “He started out as a sportswriter and had all that freedom that sportswriters had, and still have today.” Nordland, the Times’ bureau chief in Kabul, won for his anguishing story of Afghan children freezing to death in refugee camps. Judges said they were gripped by “Kabul’s Killing Freezes” from the start, where Nordland listed some of the dead. Ismail, the son of Juma Gul. “He was never warm in his entire life,” Mr. Gul said. “Not once.” It was a short life, 30 days long. Nordland visited most of the 57 refugee camps near Kabul, learning from reluctant United Nations officials and grief-stricken families that at least 22 children had frozen to death in a single month. The Times didn’t play any of the series on Page 1, a “blessing” that Nordland said meant less editing and more freedom as a writer. Even without front-page coverage, the stories generated an immediate public outcry and delivery of aid. “Readers reacted in a way that was really gratifying, that showed how much power a well written story can have to move people and get help,” Nordland said. ***** TWO reporting teams, from Los Angeles and Chicago, received Broun “substantial distinction” awards, each with $750 checks. A San Jose Mercury News reporter received a special honorable mention and $500. In “The Shame of the Boy Scouts” Los Angeles Times reporters Jason Felch and Kim Christensen exposed a secret blacklist of suspected sexual predators among scout leaders. The story had significant national impact because of the searchable database the reporters painstakingly created. Felch said he and Christensen, who wasn’t able to attend the awards, poured through explicit files that included “handwritten notes from 9-year-old boys describing how they’d been raped by a man they trusted.” Then they began tracking down and interviewing victims, now men in their 30s through 60s. “Many of them had never spoken about this before,” Felch said. While some still couldn’t, others “were enormously grateful. They had been waiting to have their stories told for decades.” Ending on a happier note, Felch said, “The LA Times is once again going through a change of ownership. So who knows, after a century being a non-Guild-paper, don’t give up hope. We may get a new owner who sees the light.” In “Empty Desk Epidemic” Chicago Tribune reporters David Jackson and Gary Marx revealed pervasive absenteeism in Chicago elementary schools and the administration’s inability to keep track of students. Jackson had been tipped to the problem by a juvenile court judge in 1999. But the school system refused to release data, leading to a court battle. After years of fighting for data, then analyzing it and tracking down pupils and parents, the team was finally able to publish in 2012. The team of Jackson and Marx won the top Broun award in 2009. “We really think among many awards that this one is really special because it’s about social justice and it’s about the craft and art of journalism and it’s about public service,” Marx said. “We believe that’s really what journalism is about.” The Broun awards don’t normally include honorable mentions, but judges said they couldn’t overlook “Loss of Trust” by Karen de Sá of the Mercury News. The project exposed probate court corruption that was draining the bank accounts of the disabled and elderly. Within weeks of her story, the court began working on guidelines to curb the abuse. What was once a team of investigative reporters at the News is now a team of one -- de Sá, who is also the paper’s Guild unit chair. Despite the cuts, she said “I’m incredibly hopeful and inspired because as our craft has become so hard to find at major metropolitan dailies, it’s also so desperately loved and appreciated -- and oddly so, even by the people and systems in California that know they need to be watched and exposed.” ***** THE young winners of the David S. Barr awards for high school and college journalists suggested the industry’s future is in good hands. Given in memory of the Guild’s late attorney, the college award and a $,1500 check was presented to Andrew Pantazi, 21, a recent University of Florida graduate. The high school award and $1,000 went to Temitayo Fagbenle, 17, of Vanguard High School in Queens, N.Y. Pantazi’s winning story, “Cheese Heroin: Living on the Edge,” chronicled a teenager’s addiction and recovery. He pursued the story as an intern at the Dallas Morning News, where an editor guided him through many rewrites, teaching him the value of having time to tell a story well. “I want to thank newspapers everywhere that still believe in storytelling enough to allow young journalists to try their hand at it,” he said. “I hope that newspapers continue to see the benefit in printed journalism, in stories on the front page that are sometimes 125 inches of uninterrupted narrative. That’s the best way to really reach people.” Fagbenle, working with the WNCY Radio Rookies program in New York, won the high school award and a $1,000 check for her radio entry, “Sexual Cyber-bullying: The Modern Day Letter A.” Focusing on the dangerous aspects of social media for teenagers today, the story led to a national online chat for students. With explicit photos and abusive language, sexual cyber-bulling can leave a “deep psychological scar” that “is not just something that stays in high school,” Fagbenle said. It may “follow the person who is targeted for the rest of their life.” “I hadn’t seen much reporting on this issue,” she said. “I’m glad for the opportunity to spread the word.” **** WHEN budgets were healthier for the Guild and donors, the Freedom Fund Awards were presented at dinners in hotel ballrooms. This year’s luncheon at Guild headquarters was a smaller affair, but many in attendance thought it was also one of the best and most inspiring. In brief but passionate comments, CWA President Larry Cohen stressed that the fight to save journalism is also a fight for democracy. “We are deep believers here that journalists are critical in that process, in fighting for quality journalism – not just blogging, not just journalism answering to who’s paying for it,” Cohen said. “It’s more important now than even in the time of Heywood Broun.”
Justin PritchardJune 19, 2015The Associated Press
California state officials released reports Thursday detailing six accidents that involved self-driving car prototypes, reversing a policy that had shielded details of how the next-generation technology is performing during testing on public roads. The disclosure came after The Associated Press successfully argued to the Department of Motor Vehicles that the agency was improperly withholding the information.
StaffJune 17, 2015Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild
Guild members at the Washington Post have ratified an agreement that includes a 2.5 percent raise in next week's paychecks. The Guild's campaign for a new contract included rallies, videos and successful efforts to build their Post unit, with more than 50 new members signing up. Post unit co-chair Freddy Kuncle said, "The first takeaway from these past eight months is that despite the very painful loss caused by the Post's decision to freeze the traditional pension, the presence of a union forced the company to reach compromise on pay, healthcare and many other important benefits. Without a union to speak up on everyone's behalf, the company would have had the right to unilaterally impose its way not just with the pension but with many other unfavorable terms. The second takeaway is that we need to begin now to strengthen the labor movement right here in our building. "Featured Title: WashPost Unit Ratifies New Contract Under Bezos Ownership
Greg KesichJune 16, 2015News Guild of Maine via NewsGuild-CWA
WE'VE heard from our new owner and have a better understanding of his values and beliefs. Here are some of ours.
We believe in a democratic workplace. We think that if you spend most of your life at work, you should have influence over the decisions that will affect you.
The best way to achieve that is to elect leaders who will keep you informed, listen to your concerns and represent you in talks with the company.
As in any democracy, we don’t expect everyone to agree with every decision, but all of us should get the chance to know what’s going on and say what we think.
We believe that workers deserve to be treated fairly. Pay, benefits, job security and discipline should not be left entirely to management discretion where they can become tools for favoritism and intimidation. If members are in danger of losing their jobs, they should have due process and someone in their corner to make sure that their rights have been respected.
We believe in each other. We know that we are strongest when we stick together. That’s why companies would always rather deal with us as individuals than as a group. We believe that when we support each other, all of us are better off.
Some of you have wondered about what kind of relationship the Guild will have with the new company. It is too soon to say.
We are a union, but we have no contract. We hope to begin negotiations later this month and will let you know how they move forward.
Even without a contract, we have rights as union members including the right to speak up without the threat of retaliation. But if we don’t assert those rights it will be as if they don’t exist. We will not give up your rights and we will use all the tools we have under the law to make sure that they are honored.
That doesn’t mean that we have to be in conflict with the new owner. We share a strong common interest with him in the company’s success and we don’t gain anything by “winning” victories that lead to the failure of the enterprise.
On Thursday, the employees of the online-only publisher Gawker Media voted to unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East, even though Gawker has an enlightened owner who is generously sharing the company’s considerable wealth. Bernie Lunzer, president of The NewsGuild-CWA (who was not part of the Gawker drive) had these thoughts on why workers in a company like that might want a union.
“What is most important is that people understand that having a union is not about having bad management, or attacking management. It’s a conscious choice that you want to have a real say in what happens in your workplace. Our members are almost always more loyal and proud of their mastheads (digital and print) than the owners are.” We agree.
We are problem solvers, not troublemakers. Some of us are working for our fifth owner. A strong union has never been this company’s enemy. In fact, if not for the hard work and sacrifice of Guild members, the company probably would have folded by now.
We want to work with this owner to make the company more successful and return it to profitability. We ask only that he recognize our rights and respect that we speak with one voice.
Your Executive Board