Updated: 1 hour 31 min ago
September 18, 2016
NewsGuild-CWA is at the Excellence In Journalism Conference in New Orleans. Martha Waggoner, Guild International Chairperson pictured with Kevin McGill a News Media Guild member, and fellow AP'er.
September 15, 2016
Newsroom employees at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune vote for Guild-CWA representation.
September 15, 2016
NewsGuild-CWA at the Online News Association gathering in Denver. Jeff Gordon, United Media Guild and TNG-CWA VP, with Emilie Rusch, Denver News Guild member. Catch up with live events at ONA at http://ona16.journalists.org.
Lena WilliamsSeptember 2, 2016Right to Report
Retired New York Times reporter Lena Williams, who regularly writes for RightToReport.org, doesn't pull any punches here. She believes it's not in the best interests of journalists or journalism to support a candidate who verbally assaults reporters, continually threatens to sue media organizations, has said he wants to "loosen" libel laws and doesn't seem to understand the First Amendment or the role of a free press in a democracy. As is our tradition, the NewsGuild-CWA has not endorsed any candidate in upcoming election. Williams' opinions are her own.
StaffSeptember 2, 2016The NewsGuild-CWA
With T-shirts, bulletin boards and lots of solidarity photos on social media, Guild members at the Wall Street Journal and other Dow Jones properties have been doing their all to support the IAPE bargaining team. Talks began in June. Wages are a key sticking point, with the union seeking to offset increases in employees’ share of health care costs. IAPE is asking for a 3.5 percent raise in the first year and 4.5 percent in the following two years, while Dow Jones hasn’t budged above 2 percent. Bargaining was continuing as The Guild Reporter went to press.
Members of the IAPE bargaining team include, from left, Tim Martell, Brent Kendall, Rob Johnson, Tricia Corley, Steve Nakrosis and Bob Kozma.
IAPE members at WSJ’s Washington, D.C., bureau.
Members in Dow Jones customer service, South Brunswick, N.J.
Tim Martell’s dog, Gracie, is a good sport.
A spirited South Brunswick bulletin board.
StaffSeptember 2, 2016The NewsGuild-CWA
Robert A. Steinke, who built the St. Louis Newspaper Guild into one of the Guild’s strongest and most enduring locals, died Aug. 10. He was 89.
Steinke spent 20 years at the helm of the local, now called the United Media Guild. He became active in the union while working in the Post-Dispatch circulation department and briefly joined TNG’s international staff in 1967. The following year he took over as executive secretary/business representative for his local.
When he retired in 1988, TNG President Chuck Dale told the Post-Dispatch, “His contributions to The Newspaper Guild’s membership in St. Louis and throughout our international union have been unequaled throughout our history.”
Steinke, a former Marine, was known for his no-nonsense negotiating style. His commanding leadership got the local through such difficult times as the newspaper strike of 1978-79. He could appear gruff but “beneath that he is one of the gentlest people I’ve ever met,” Dale said in the retirement story. “He is a very soft-hearted person. When somebody is in real trouble, he reaches way down to be helpful.”
Members of the local still benefit from his stewardship today, inheriting strong contract language, high activism levels and outstanding financial resources from his tenure.
“Mr. Steinke spent his life building this union and fighting for the rights of workers,” said Shannon Duffy, the local’s current business representative. “Our local today continues in the path he helped carve out and we are all better off because of his service.”
StaffSeptember 2, 2016The NewsGuild-CWA
The News Media Guild’s executive committee and representative assembly appeared energized during a meeting in Washington, D.C., in August, where they decided to survey Associated Press members about discrimination and wage disparity issues. Guild locals in New York, Philadelphia and Washington have conducted similar studies with “dismaying results,” as NMG put it. The RA also approved a budget that includes money for bargaining with AP in 2017, as well as funds for contract talks with EFE, UPI and the local’s newest unit, The Guardian US.
Janelle HartmanSeptember 2, 2016The NewsGuild-CWA
The vast majority of the Law360 editorial staff voted in August to join the New York Guild, handily defeating management’s high-pressure three-week campaign to block the union.
In ballots counted at the city’s NLRB office Aug. 24, workers at the legal website voted 109-9 for the Guild. More than 130 reporters, editors, news assistants and apprentices across the United States will be represented.
“Today’s result is a testament to the passionate efforts of Law360’s dedicated journalists,” said Sindhu Sundar, a Law360 features reporter. “We’re incredibly excited for this new chapter of our history.”
Law360 workers in New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles voted in person on Aug. 10, while another two dozen remote employees voted by mail.
The company is a fast-growing publisher of legal news and analysis owned by LexisNexis Group, a subsidiary of London-based RELX Group.
The Guild filed for election with the NLRB on July 19, the same day that Law360 employees asked management for voluntary recognition of the union.
Management not only rejected the Guild’s request, it brought in the infamous Jackson Lewis anti-union law firm and a “union avoidance” consulting firm. Employees were pulled into daily hour-long meetings with consultants, LexisNexis executives, and senior Law360 managers, all urging them to vote no.
In a mission statement about the organizing drive, workers said Law360 “has become an indispensable news source for the legal and business communities, and we, the journalists, are proud of the instrumental role we’ve played in driving the company’s constant and remarkable growth.”
“However, this success has not led to better working conditions for those in the newsroom, and the editorial staff of Law360 believe the time has come to unite and ensure that our voices are heard.”
Specifically they said they were seeking “reasonable compensation and overtime pay. We also stand against unilateral changes to our healthcare and other benefits, a mercurial management style, and an overwhelming quota-based workload that leads to a poor work-life balance and questionable editorial priorities.”
Five days before the election, the editor-in-chief and a managing editor were fired and escorted out of the building, a move many employees saw as a dramatic effort by management to show that it was ready to make changes if they rejected the Guild.
The workers’ union campaign began shortly after Law360 management enforced a non-compete agreement against a recently departed employee.
In June, the company discontinued its practice of requiring employees to sign non-compete agreements as part of a settlement with New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, which stemmed from an investigation the Guild initiated by contacting the AG’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,” TNG-CWA President Bernie Lunzer said. “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.”
New York Guild President Peter Szekely said the settlement “instantly liberates dozens of journalists from legal shackles that were unfairly stifling their careers. It also warns all news industry executives that they may run afoul of the law if they make non-compete agreements a condition of employment.”
“While the misuse of non-compete agreements harms workers in a variety of occupations, its presence in the news business is particularly troublesome,” Szekely said. “By impeding career advancement and deflating pay, these provisions discourage journalists from developing their skills, and may well diminish the overall quality of journalism.”
Lunzer and Szekely said the Guild is looking into pursuing state and national legislation to put a stop to the practice.
Meanwhile, Law360 journalists will be pursuing a first contract.
“Employees have sent management a clear message and we hope Law360 accepts it,” Szekely said. “We’re ready to turn the page and have a constructive dialogue with management.”
Janelle HartmanSeptember 2, 2016The NewsGuild-CWA
Lakeland Ledger journalists made history Aug. 11, overwhelmingly voting to become the first newsroom in Florida to join The NewsGuild-CWA.
“This landslide vote sends an unmistakable signal that employees demand to have a voice in critical decisions that will determine how The Ledger responds to the challenges of an industry in transition,” said Gary White, a Ledger reporter for 14 years and a leader in the organizing drive.
Less than a week later, journalists at Florida’s Sarasota Herald-Tribune filed for NewsGuild representation. The election was pending as The Guild Reporter went to press.
“We’re making this move because we owe our community the kind of journalism that has earned the Herald-Tribune two Pulitzer prizes over the past five years,” said Billy Cox, a Herald-Tribune reporter since 2006. “We have a newsroom environment that has supported ‘impact journalism’ for years, but our corporate culture fails to financially support the dedicated staff members who produce that work.”
Both newspapers were purchased in January 2015 by GateHouse Media, which owns other Guild-represented newspapers in the Midwest and Northeast. The company, part of the publicly traded New Media Investment Group, has imposed severe cuts at all of its papers.
TNG-CWA President Bernie Lunzer said the landmark campaigns in Florida are a “significant positive step for the journalists at these newspapers and for the quality of journalism they are able to provide their communities.”
Further, he said, new organizing in Florida and throughout the Guild, at digital and traditional news organizations, “strengthens our union as we fight back against other corporate owners that don’t understand what they’re sacrificing with constant cuts, frozen wages and untenable demands on overworked journalists.”
Reporters in Lakeland, where the vote was 22-3 for the Guild, said it has been challenging to serve readers since Gatehouse took over. Over the past 20 months, at least 21 newsroom employees have been laid off, at least six unfilled positions have been eliminated and a news bureau has gone from four employees to one. Meanwhile, eight years without raises have led some of the paper’s experienced journalists to leave.
“The hard-working and dedicated staff of the newsroom wants The Ledger to continue its important mission of informing Polk County residents,” White said. “We welcome a new role in collaborating with the company to establish journalistic and financial success.”
John Chambliss, a Ledger reporter for 15 years, said newsroom employees “look forward to working with GateHouse on a new contract.”
He said the staff’s interest in unionizing “has nothing to do with our local leadership” and instead is focused on GateHouse.
Sarasota journalists made the same point. “We have had a good relationship with local management,” said Tom Lyons, a Herald-Tribune columnist and staff member for 24 years. “We prize that relationship, and we have especially valued the leadership of our executive editor, Bill Church.”
Gatehouse has cut at least 16 jobs through layoffs and other downsizing in Sarasota. As in Lakeland, many remaining workers have gone without raises for eight years.
“Negotiating a good contract will allow us to preserve and continue the quality journalism we’ve given our community for more than 90 years,” Sarasota investigative reporter Elizabeth Johnson said.
As in Lakeland, reporters, photographers, copy editors and other employees in the Sarasota newsroom signed cards stating their desire to be represented by TNG-CWA. The cards were filed with the NLRB on Aug. 17. About 40 employees would be in the unit.
The Herald-Tribune, which has a daily circulation of 73,700 and 94,800 on Sundays, was a Pulitzer finalist in 2008 and 2010. It won the Pulitzer in 2011 for an investigation into the state of home insurance in Florida and won again this year for a collaborative series with the Tampa Bay Times on Florida’s mental hospitals.
Journalists at both newspapers issued mission statements during the organizing campaign. Lakeland employees said 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.”
Sarasota journalists said, “We give our community a voice, and we deserve one, too. Journalism is honorable and worth fighting for. If we cannot stand up for ourselves, we certainly cannot stand up for anyone else.”
Marian NeedhamSeptember 2, 2016EVP, The NewsGuild-CWA
I was honored to represent The NewsGuild-CWA for the triennial World Congress of the International Federation of Journalists held in June in Angers, France.
The IFJ is the world’s largest organization of journalists, with approximately 600,000 members in 139 countries. The Congress drew representatives of journalists’ unions from around the globe.
It was rousing to see people of so many different cultures and so many different workplace situations united in a common purpose — defending press freedom and protecting the rights and safety of journalists.
It also provided a different perspective on some of the greatest challenges facing the industry beyond our borders. Much of the agenda addressed the challenges that emerging democracies encounter in trying to establish a free press, and their struggle to form and sustain lasting unions for media workers.
According to the IFJ mission statement, the group’s purpose is to promote international action to defend press freedom and social justice through strong, free and independent trade unions. Reflecting those goals, members from many different countries delivered inspirational reports about their efforts to establish laws to secure reporters’ access to relevant information, efforts to free jailed reporters and campaigns to hold governments accountable when journalists are killed on the job.
Representatives of countries with deeply established trade unions reported on their collective bargaining struggles and the efforts they undertake to develop continuing union leadership and member involvement.
One of the IFJ’s main concerns is the safety of journalists, especially those working in conflict zones or in environments where journalists are targets of violence. IFJ assists journalists’ organizations in developing safety training curriculum and also assists in training safety instructors. Reports from the various IFJ regions showed support for scores of training initiatives over the past three years. Delegates attending the Congress passed several resolutions ensuring those initiatives will continue over the next three years.
The IFJ also works with journalists in many countries where there is little or no public support for freedom of information. In some regions, it has had success advancing this right. For instance, IFJ has participated in international coalition work in Africa, aimed at developing “access to information” laws. Seventeen African countries have adopted legislation protecting access as a result of these campaigns. An IFJ project has brought training to Chinese journalists and works with dozens of Asian journalists associations to advocate for government support of press freedoms.
More practically for the Guild, the meeting provided an opportunity to learn about other unions’ organizing and representational goals among traditional and digital journalists, and to hear about the challenges they face in the changing media landscape. Journalists’ unions worldwide are confronting problems posed by the consolidation of media ownership, the migration to digital platforms and the decline in traditional revenue sources.
While much of the work conducted by the IFJ does not directly affect North American journalists, its efforts are helping advance the interests of journalists and a free press worldwide.
We need to be aware and supportive of these initiatives to build the strength of all organizations that represent journalists. Involvement with the IFJ gives us the opportunity to have a voice in developing and carrying out that agenda.
StaffSeptember 2, 2016The NewsGuild-CWA
Journalists at GateHouse Media have been living with the pain of staff cuts and wage freezes for years, while their hedge fund-owned company spends wildly on new acquisitions.
Two of those purchases include Florida’s Lakeland Ledger, where workers just voted to join the Guild, and Sarasota’s Herald-Tribune, where a Guild vote is scheduled soon. Journalists at both papers say their newsrooms have suffered tremendously since GateHouse took over in 2015.
They are hopeful that joining with other Guild members facing similar challenges will bring change.
“The ongoing consolidation of newspaper ownership is diminishing the quality of local journalism and weakening vital institutions,” United Media Guild President Jeff Gordon said. “Journalists must fight for their craft and the future of their newspaper. Joining the Guild gives them an opportunity to band together and do that.”
Gordon’s local is all too familiar with GateHouse. In three years of attempts to bargain a first contract at the UMG-represented State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill., management has steadfastly refused to discuss raises.
Meanwhile the company “is vacuuming cash out of Springfield” to fund dividend payments and continue its buying spree under its new parent, New Media Investment Group, Gordon said.
“GateHouse has maintained its abusive pay freeze despite massive newsroom cuts that forced surviving journalists to shoulder greater workloads while trying to stem the eroding quality of the SJ-R,” he said.
On top of that, the company declared impasse and imposed conditions at the end of June. Management’s “last, best and final” offer amounted to a pay cut for members, Gordon said, “many of whom had gone 8½ years without a raise. Not surprisingly our members voted down that offer.”
In July, UMG Business Representative Shannon Duffy wrote to company CEO Mike Reed with concerns about all the GateHouse papers the local represents. Duffy and Phil Luciano, unit leader at the Peoria Journal Star, spoke with Reed in May at New Media’s shareholders meeting.
“As we told you in New York City, we are concerned about the future viability of the Peoria Journal Star, State Journal-Register, Rockford Register Star and the Pekin Daily Times in the face of eternal wage freezes and newsroom cuts. Excessive cost-cutting is taking a heavy toll,” Duffy wrote.
“That is taking a toll on the news product which, in turn, will cause premature loss of readers and advertisers,” he continued. “This is troubling to our members who love their craft, their newspaper and their communities.”
Duffy noted that the Guild took to heart Reed’s criticisms last year about the union’s activities during the Springfield negotiations.
“After you expressed your concerns during our phone conversation, we toned down our rhetoric and tried to reach a fair settlement in Springfield without intensifying our public campaign there. But that effort failed, conditions have now been imposed on our members and so here we are, ready to fight on their behalf through all lawful means.
“We believe there is real economic value in labor peace. Now, unfortunately, it appears it will be our job to establish the economic cost of a labor dispute,” Duffy wrote.
In a column for the UMG website in August, Gordon said GateHouse and other companies buying up papers are carelessly sacrificing quality for short-term profit.
“Companies like Gannett and New Media/GateHouse have centralized production facilities, so they can ‘gain efficiencies’ with properties they acquire. That is a nice way of saying ‘fire a lot of people to increase profits.’
“The expressed New Media/GateHouse plan is to maximize cash flow at its properties, use the money to pay dividends and to buy more properties, cut more costs, generate more cash flow, pay more dividends, buy more properties … you get the idea.”
But, “bleeding these properties for cash flow causes newspaper and websites to deteriorate, which accelerates the loss of readers, advertisers and, of course, revenues,” Gordon wrote.
StaffSeptember 2, 2016The NewsGuild-CWA
Bargaining should be underway within a few weeks for the editorial staff of the digital and print publication Foreign Policy, whose workers voted 16-1 in June to join the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild.
In a mission statement, employees said they believe the Guild is “a natural fit” for them.
“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,” the statement continued. “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.”
TNG-CWA President Bernie Lunzer said the new Guild members “report on issues that are vital to our democracy and to our understanding of the world. We are proud to welcome them to The NewsGuild-CWA.”
He 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.
The workers’ mission statement made it clear that they want their publication to succeed as much as management does.
“A union will make the business stronger by giving workers a collective voice,” they stated. “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.”
StaffSeptember 2, 2016The NewsGuild-CWA
Less than than three years after The Associated Press relocated its Chicago office from the downtown business center to a neighborhood with a pawn shop, flophouse and federal prison, the company decided to stop paying taxi fares for staffers who work late night and early morning shifts.
The News Media Guild has filed a grievance over the policy, which took effect in June, two weeks after an editor announced the change via email.
The Guild notes that Section 2 of Article 31 of the AP contract states: “The Employer will, within limits of its direct control, ensure employees’ safe passage on streets, parking lots and other areas near the office.”
“It’s demoralizing that the company would put a price on staffers’ safety, NMG President Martha Waggoner said. “AP needs to find a way to cover the news and protect the staffers most vulnerable to threats — those who arrive early and leave late.”
The decision to stop paying cab fares “came amid soaring shooting and murder rates in Chicago,” NMG reported. Both gun violence and homicides in the city jumped more than 50 percent in the first five months of the year.
AP’s practice of paying taxi fares in Chicago dates to at least July 2009. It was mainly aimed at staffers whose shifts began after 10 p.m. or ended between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., though workers on other shifts could seek reimbursement if they felt unsafe.
“At any time of day or night, if you are en route to or from work and feel that for personal safety you need to shift from public transit to a taxi, you are welcome to do so,” then-Central Region editor David Scott said in an email. “There should be no reason that you ever place yourself at risk. Be safe and always take a cab without hesitation if that’s best for you. All that I ask is that you file the expenses in a timely manner.”
He reiterated the practice in January 2012, when he advised staffers that paying taxi fares “is a safety measure, and I ask you respect the intent. Be safe, but don’t indulge.”
But the current Central Region editor, Tom Berman, told staffers by email that paying taxi fares has become “a prohibitively expensive accommodation.”
While the Guild continues to fight the policy change, Chicago staffers have created a “cab fare safety fund” where colleagues can donate to help each other stay safe during off hours in the notoriously dangerous city.
The metal bucket “was placed in a prominent spot, so that management can hear the coins dropped by supportive co-workers,” NMG reports on its website.ss than three years after The Associated Press relocated itsChicago office from the downtown business center to a neighborhood with a pawn shop, flophouse and federal prison, the company decided to stop paying taxi fares for staffers who work late night and early morning shifts. The News Media Guild has filed a grievance over the p olicy, which took effect in June, two weeks after an ed itor announced the change via email. The Guild notes that Section 2 of Article 31 of the AP c ontract states: “ The Employer will, within limits of its direct control, ensure employees ’ safe passage on streets, parking lots and other areas n ear the office. ” “ It ’ s demoralizing that the company would put a price o n staffers ’ safety, NMG President Martha Waggoner said. “ AP needs to find a way to cover the news and protect the staffe rs most vulnerable to threats — those who arrive early and leave late. ” The decision to stop paying cab fares “ came amid soaring shooting and murder rates in Chica go, ” NMG reported. Both gun violence and homicides in the city jumped more th an 50 percent in the first five months of the year. AP ’ s practice of paying taxi fares in Chicago dates to at least July 2009. It was mainly aimed at staffers whos e shifts began after 10 p.m. or ended between 10 p.m. and 6 a. m., though workers on other shifts could seek reimburseme nt if they felt unsafe. “ At any time of day or night, if you are en route to or from work and feel that for personal safety you need to shift from public transit to a taxi, you are welcome to do so, ” then-Central Region editor David Scott said in an ema il. “ There should be no reason that you ever place yourself at risk. Be safe and always take a cab without hesitation if that ’ s best for you. All that I ask is that you file the expenses in a time ly manner. ” He reiterated the practice in January 2012, when he advised staffers that paying taxi fares “ is a safety measure, and I ask you respect the intent. Be safe, but don ’ t indulge. ” But the current Central Region editor, Tom Berman, told st affers by email that paying taxi fares has become “ a prohibitively expensive accommodation. ” While the Guild continues to fight the policy change, Chicago staffers have created a “ cab fare safety fund ” where colleagues can donate to help each other stay safe durin g off hours in the notoriously dangerous city. The metal bucket “ was placed in a prominent spot, so that management can hear the coins dropped by supportive co- workers, ”
NMG reports on its website.an three years after The Associated Press relocated itsChicago office from the downtown business center to a neighborhood with a pawn shop, flophouse and federal prison, the company decided to stop paying taxi fares for staffers who work late night and early morning shifts. The News Media Guild has filed a grievance over the p olicy, which took effect in June, two weeks after an ed itor announced the change via email. The Guild notes that Section 2 of Article 31 of the AP c ontract states: “ The Employer will, within limits of its direct control, ensure employees ’ safe passage on streets, parking lots and other areas n ear the office. ” “ It ’ s demoralizing that the company would put a price o n staffers ’ safety, NMG President Martha Waggoner said. “ AP needs to find a way to cover the news and protect the staffe rs most vulnerable to threats — those who arrive early and leave late. ” The decision to stop paying cab fares “ came amid soaring shooting and murder rates in Chica go, ” NMG reported. Both gun violence and homicides in the city jumped more th an 50 percent in the first five months of the year. AP ’ s practice of paying taxi fares in Chicago dates to at least July 2009. It was mainly aimed at staffers whos e shifts began after 10 p.m. or ended between 10 p.m. and 6 a. m., though workers on other shifts could seek reimburseme nt if they felt unsafe. “ At any time of day or night, if you are en route to or from work and feel that for personal safety you need to shift from public transit to a taxi, you are welcome to do so, ” then-Central Region editor David Scott said in an ema il. “ There should be no reason that you ever place yourself at risk. Be safe and always take a cab without hesitation if that ’ s best for you. All that I ask is that you file the expenses in a time ly manner. ” He reiterated the practice in January 2012, when he advised staffers that paying taxi fares “ is a safety measure, and I ask you respect the intent. Be safe, but don ’ t indulge. ” But the current Central Region editor, Tom Berman, told st affers by email that paying taxi fares has become “ a prohibitively expensive accommodation. ” While the Guild continues to fight the policy change, Chicago staffers have created a “ cab fare safety fund ” where colleagues can donate to help each other stay safe durin g off hours in the notoriously dangerous city. The metal bucket “ was placed in a prominent spot, so that management can hear the coins dropped by supportive co- workers, ” NMG reports on its website.
StaffSeptember 2, 2016The NewsGuild-CWA
Two aspiring journalists have won this year’s David S. Barr Award for exceptional work as student reporters.
The high school winner is Nathalie Gabriela, who attends the Miami Lakes Educational Center in Miami Lakes, Fla., and writes for Miami Montage. She wins a $1,000 prize.
Gabriela’s entry, “Sort of a mess,” explores the major issues with bad recycling and possible solutions. She looked at how recycling has evolved to make things more convenient to the average recycler. But when the rules of recycling are ignored, it often puts plant workers at waste management facilities at risk of injury while slowing down the recycling process.
The college winner is Jeanine Michelle Fiser, who attends Fresno State University in California. She wins $1,500 for her piece in the Sanger Herald titled, “Still wondering why shots were fired.”
Working for a semester and a half, Fiser produced a three-part report that detailed moment by-moment the death of Charlie Salinas in the small central California town of Sanger. Salinas was an ex-Marine, he was unarmed, alcoholic, mentally ill and suffering from PTSD. He was shot 11 times – several times after he was lying on the ground.
Fiser’s reporting revealed confusion, unprofessional behavior and faulty leadership among officers involved in the shooting. She found experts locally and nationwide appalled by the killing and also revealed how state law shields law officers from public scrutiny and accountability, even in cases involving questionable killings.
“This compelling package reveals a passion for justice and fairness on the part of the author,” the judges said. “The case was headed to court at the time Fiser entered the Barr contest.
The student awards are named for the late Guild attorney, David S. Barr, who was passionate about justice and fairness and viewed journalists as agents of those virtues. The awards honor one high school and one college student journalist annually whose work focuses on issues of social justice. Barr had represented the Guild for more than 20 years when he died of a heart attack in 1997 at the age of 61.
Janelle HartmanSeptember 1, 2016The NewsGuild-CWA
Top: Denver Post members march in front of their newspaper's building. Below: Members show their solidarity in Pottstown, Pa. Find more photos at www.dfmworkers.org.
A high-pressure campaign helped pull Digital First Media to the bargaining table for coordinated national talks in Denver in recent months, leading to new contracts with years-overdue raises for members in 12 Guild units.
“It’s historic,” TNG-CWA President Bernie Lunzer said of the seven-month campaign and the talks it produced. “Dealing with hedge funds is especially difficult, but this showed that when people work together, really work together, it can make a huge difference.”
Hedge fund Alden Global Capital began purchasing DFM newspapers in 2009, systematically selling off the papers’ assets while drastically cutting staff and resources.
Raises were unheard of, with some workers going 10 years without one. The contracts give all DFM Guild members an across-the-board 3 percent pay increase.
The contracts, all ratified the second week of August, cover units at The Denver Post, The Mercury News, East Bay Times, Monterey Herald, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Macomb Daily and The Daily Tribune, Kingston Daily Freeman, Pottstown Mercury, Norristown Times-Herald, The Delaware County Times, and The Trentonian.
“Coming together with a diverse group like that and bonding, coming to the realization that there is strength in numbers,” was powerful, said Kieran Nicholson, newsroom unit chair at The Denver Post. “I certainly think the tide rose for everyone, and a lot of it had to do with us acting in unison.”
As a united front, it felt like “the company really started to take notice of us,” said Claudia Melendez, co-chair at the Monterey Herald. “They realized that we can be a force to be reckoned with and that was very empowering.”
Kathy Munroe, a TNG-CWA staff representative who took part in the talks, said, “The big takeaway was ‘stronger together.’ Everybody brought different issues to the table, but they worked so well together that they became everyone’s issues. And that’s what the Guild is all about.”
Using the hashtag and slogan #NewsMatters, the campaign drew media and public attention through rallies, social media, a website that told workers’ stories and other activism.
“The #NewsMatters campaign brought out the best in the Guild,” said Carl Hall, executive officer for the Pacific Media Workers local, which represents Monterey and two other units involved in the talks.
“All these newspapers have been slammed to the ground, stomped on, insulted, picked up and slammed down again by these owners, and yet the people still working there refuse to become demoralized,” Hall said. “When given a chance to fight they responded.”
Some Guild members were happier than others with the outcome. Members at the St. Paul Pioneer Press “find the results bittersweet,” said Candace Lund, executive officer of the Minnesota Guild.
“The settlement was approved, not because people were happy about the results, but because the history with the hedge fund owners shows a clear pattern, and our members know that the outcome would most likely be worse if we bargained alone,” Lund said. “Bargaining with 12 units gave us the strength to avoid even more take backs from management.”
Denver’s Nicholson agreed that, “It’s not perfect. Even though we settled, and I’m glad that we settled, there is still more work to be done. We can build on that.”
Melendez, of Monterey, said while members would have liked more than a 3 percent pay raise, they are glad for it and have been outwardly supportive of their Guild leaders.
“Our members were mostly grateful that we have been so dedicated to this, and they also felt good being part of the process,” she said. “They were so remarkable in responding. Not all of them can go to meetings, not everyone can take time away and organize things, but most of our members participated one way or another – they put up desk tents or they wore T-shirts or they took photos. They were all invested in it.”
The talks didn’t solve the overriding problem as DFM members see it – their company’s failure to value quality journalism and provide the resources it demands.
At the Pioneer Press, for example, DFM still plans to outsource design work in advertising and the newsroom, as well as some circulation jobs.
“It is increasingly clear that the current owners are only interested in financial gains for their stakeholders, and are unwilling to invest in the local community’s voice and watchdog,” Lund said.
Lunzer said those concerns are precisely why the Guild will not only keep the DFM campaign active, but work to extend it to other companies that are putting profit ahead of quality journalism.
“We’ve said it before many times, but democracy itself depends on journalism – on newspapers and digital news organizations having the staff and resources to bring transparency to everything from City Hall to Capitol Hill,” he said.
Lunzer said the DFM group and the larger Guild will continue to “keep the hedge fund honest and force them to be better owners.”
Citing the Guild’s recent organizing victories, Melendez said that’s the way for workers to ultimately prevail.
“The more we unionize the better the things will be for everyone in the industry,” she said.
Bernie Lunzer, PresidentAugust 31, 2016The NewsGuild-CWA
It is a crazy campaign period. The CWA Executive Board has made two endorsements for president, first supporting Bernie Sanders. When he did not become the Democratic Party’s nominee, board members endorsed Hillary Clinton. As TNG-CWA president, I abstained in both votes to recognize our members who cover electoral politics and must remain objective.
Regardless of your political views or the nature of your work, I believe all of our members have an obligation to vote. Democracy isn’t a theory, it’s a practice. It also has many enemies. Every day your union is fighting on many fronts to protect democracy. Our fundamental value is creating democratic workplaces where employees have a say in their work lives. In the United States and Canada, members who can be politically active are supporting candidates and issues that will make our countries stronger.
If we truly value workers’ rights, safe working conditions, retirement security and the fundamental right to organize and join unions, we owe it to ourselves to vote for candidates who share those values. Remember that the First Amendment protects freedom of association just as it does freedom of speech. You really cannot have one without the other.
In too many states, we have seen governors degrade and demean unions and proclaim that they want their states to be “union free.” Thirty years ago, you wouldn’t have heard any political leader — Republican or Democrat — air such anti-worker rhetoric. There is a lot of talk about how the country’s economic recovery has left the average worker behind. I submit that wage stagnation is not an accident, but a direct result of anti-worker agendas and legislation. Whether it’s a local, state or national election, your vote matters.
I have long said that our members, at newspapers and digital news organizations, are the last defense for quality journalism. Through organizing and bargaining, we push for staffing levels to effectively cover communities and for pay and benefits that help keep talented, experienced journalists on the job.
You will read in this issue of The Guild Reporter, as well as the CWA News, that the Guild and our parent union are making significant strides in organizing and collective bargaining. We’re pushing back against companies that have cut newsrooms to the bone and refused to raise salaries.
We’re proud to report a lot of recent success. But it didn’t happen in a vacuum. As hard as our staff and local leaders have worked to make these victories possible, it also took political will outside the labor movement. President Obama and other elected representatives fought to restore the National Labor Relations Board to full strength and American workers have benefited. And that happened because pressure was brought to bear on Congress and the White House. CWA and past president Larry Cohen were at the forefront of that campaign. In politics, nothing happens in isolation.
I urge you to be involved, to the fullest extent possible, in this year’s elections. Identify reasonable candidates at all levels of government who support workers. Reject candidates full of empty promises. Vote for candidates who truly stand with workers and respect their right to have a voice at work.
The media have been battered as an industry by hedge funds and belittled by politicians who either don’t understand or don’t respect the First Amendment. We need elected leaders who understand that journalism and democracy are intertwined.
Our founders understood this. Early on in our republic, a special mailing rate was given to publications to promote the distribution of information. For democracy to succeed, they knew that an informed citizenry was essential.
There have always been laws that benefit or hinder journalism, and more are proposed and debated all the time in state legislatures and on Capitol Hill. Will you cast your vote for someone who champions freedom of information or someone who wants to stifle it?
As a union our goal is always to achieve the best contracts we can. But we bargain, and we make accommodations. Politics is like that, too. I ask that you be realistic this election cycle. There is no such thing as the perfect politician. But as the saying goes, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Real life involves compromise. You assess the situation and figure out the best way to get as close as possible to what you want.
In the end, we recognize that even if we elect leaders who we think are on our side, we can’t leave it up to them to do the right thing. We keep pushing. We keep building a movement.
Real change almost never comes from Washington or Ottawa. It comes because of the bravery and courage of people who have taken to the streets to fight for change and hold their leaders accountable. As FDR told his supporters, “after you get me elected, make me do the things I promised.”
I wish it were simpler. I wish we could build a movement at our keyboards alone. We can foment change with honesty in our journalism and activism in the streets. They used to say the revolution won’t be televised. Well, it won’t happen on Twitter or Facebook either. We will use every tool at our disposal, but it comes down to real, visible efforts. It comes down to alliances. It comes down to reasonable politicians. It comes down to your vote.
Our founder Heywood Broun ran for Congress. Admittedly he was a columnist, paid for his opinions. But he also understood that there was no place to hide. Either you worked to strengthen democracy, or you stood by and saw it grow weaker.
I urge you to make every effort you can this election season, as your professional situation allows. For almost all of you, that some level of activism. But above all, I urge you to vote, and to vote as if your union depended on it. Because it does.
StaffAugust 24, 2016The NewsGuild of New York
The vast majority of the Law360 editorial staff has voted to join the New York Guild, handily defeating management’s intense three-week campaign to block the union. In ballots counted at the city’s NLRB office Aug. 24, workers at the legal website voted 109-9 for the Guild. More than 130 reporters, editors, news assistants and apprentices across the United States will be represented. “Today’s result is a testament to the passionate efforts of Law360’s dedicated journalists,” said Sindhu Sundar, a Law360 features reporter. “We’re incredibly excited for this new chapter of our history.” Photo: Victorious Law360 staffers outside New York's NLRB office.Featured Title: With 92% 'Yes' Vote, Law360 Editorial Staff Joins NY Guild
StaffAugust 18, 2016The NewsGuild of New York
Guild attorneys are reviewing and considering an appeal of a decision by a National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge who rejected claims that Time Inc. management committed several labor law violations, including unilaterally imposing work rules on Guild-represented employees. The case stems from management’s declaration in the fall of 2014 that contract negotiations had reached a legal impasse, which it claimed allowed it to impose its “last, best and final” offer on employees. The Guild challenged the move and was joined by the NLRB’s Manhattan regional office, which issued a complaint. “We disagree strongly with the ruling of the administrative law judge,” said New York NewsGuild President Peter Szekely. “Under the NLRB’s procedures, all such decisions are subject to review by the NLRB’s presidentially-appointed board in Washington.”
StaffAugust 17, 2016The NewsGuild-CWA
SARASOTA, Florida — The newsroom staff of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Sarasota Herald-Tribune took a major step today to form a union that will advocate for top-quality journalism and the interests of readers amid a changing newspaper industry. "The Herald-Tribune newsroom takes pride in providing a voice for Sarasota and its neighbors," said Elizabeth Johnson, an investigative reporter and staff member for three years. "Negotiating a good contract will allow us to preserve and continue the quality journalism we've given our community for more than 90 years." Reporters, photographers, copy editors and other employees in the Herald-Tribune newsroom signed cards stating their desire to be represented by The NewsGuild-CWA. The cards, filed today (Wednesday) at the Tampa regional office of the National Labor Relations Board, will trigger an NLRB-monitored election by Herald-Tribune staff members in the next 20 to 40 days. If a majority of those voting support the Guild, the Sarasota newsroom will join the Lakeland Ledger as the only unionized newspaper newsrooms in Florida and the first to unionize in the Sunshine State in modern memory. The Ledger's newsroom staff voted 22-3 on Aug. 11 to form a NewsGuild-affiliated union. Since then, preparations have begun for negotiations to hammer out the Guild's first labor contract with the Polk County newspaper. Both newspapers are owned by GateHouse Media, a company based in Pittsford, New York, that is one of the largest publishers of newspapers in the country. Both newspapers have endured significant cuts since their purchase in January 2015 by GateHouse, which is part of the publicly traded New Media Investment Group. The Sarasota newsroom's unionizing campaign comes after the loss of at least 16 employees through layoffs and other downsizing by GateHouse. "We're making this move because we owe our community the kind of journalism that has earned the Herald-Tribune two Pulitzer prizes over the past five years," said Billy Cox, a Herald-Tribune reporter since 2006. "We have a newsroom environment that has supported 'impact journalism' for years, but our corporate culture fails to financially support the dedicated staff members who produce that work." Cox noted that many members of the staff have gone without raises for more than eight years. Before being acquired by GateHouse, the Herald-Tribune was owned by The New York Times Co. and then by Halifax Media. The Herald-Tribune was a Pulitzer finalist in 2008 and 2010. It won journalism's top award in 2011 for an investigation into the state of home insurance in Florida. The Herald-Tribune received the Pulitzer for investigative reporting this year for a collaborative series with the Tampa Bay Times on Florida's mental hospitals. The Herald-Tribune has a daily circulation of 73,700 and a Sunday circulation of 94,800. The NewsGuild would represent about 40 people in the newsroom. Tom Lyons, a columnist and staff member for 24 years, said the unionizing effort does not indicate dissatisfaction with local management. Workers' concerns focus on the paper's out-of-town corporate owner, he said. "We have had a good relationship with local management," Lyons said. "We prize that relationship, and we have especially valued the leadership of our executive editor, Bill Church." A mission statement drafted by supporters of the unionizing effort (see attachment) says workers "understand the Herald-Tribune is a business and want to do our part to make sure it remains successful, respectable and sustainable." The statement adds: "We give our community a voice, and we deserve one, too. Journalism is honorable and worth fighting for. If we cannot stand up for ourselves, we certainly cannot stand up for anyone else. A good contract will let us do just that."
Jeff GordonAugust 15, 2016United Media Guild
During his two decades at the helm of the St. Louis Newspaper Guild, Robert A. Steinke built one of the strongest and most enduring local unions in The NewsGuild. He represented workers at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, the St. Louis Labor Tribune, the St. Louis Review and KSDK-TV with distinction from 1968 until his retirement in 1988. Steinke died Aug. 10.