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Albany Fights Firing of Ad Sales Employee, Guild Activist

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 3:02pm
LeadershipJuly 21, 2014Albany Newspaper Guild


Ignoring an outpouring of support from her colleagues, the Times Union on Friday fired one of its best and brightest employees, Lindsay Connors, by sending her a letter at home on her day off telling her not to return.


The company ignored a petition from her colleagues, testimony from top sales staff, posters of support on co-workers’ desks, and numerous objections to unfair standards that targeted her alone.


Albany President Tim O’Brien said the union is calling for her immediate reinstatement.


The firing comes as Connors has a charge pending with the state Human Rights Commission over alleged inappropriate comments by a company vice president.


Connors also riled the company by shedding light on actions in advertising: a team of ad sales people branded “terrorists” in a sales competition; staff told to dance for bosses as part of another competition, and, just last week, the Times Union outsourcing ad design work without negotiation.


Connors is a strong Guild member who helped raise awareness about workplace bullying and, with three colleagues, including O’Brien, led a workshop on the subject at the Guild’s multi-council meeting in April. At that meeting, she received the union’s top honor, the Guild Service Award for her hard work on behalf the Guild. (Click here for story.)


“Publisher George Hearst has shredded his credibility with the advertising staff,” O’Brien said. “When employees came to him to discuss how badly employees are being treated, he did nothing.”


A single mother of four, Connors has faced grossly unfair standards since returning from maternity leave last year, For instance, the company expected her to call a potential advertiser every seven minutes without being given a call list. She was told to set up appointments for other salespeople with no guarantee that she’d get any credit for a sale. Multiple times, sales closed, the company was paid, the salesperson got credit and commissions, but Connors got nothing.


Audaciously, the company disciplined her for not hitting the sales goals it had imposed on her -- rules not a single other employee faced. When the Guild asked what the average length of time is for closing a sale, the company said it had no idea -- it didn’t track that information for anyone but Connors.


“No one among Lindsay’s peers believes the company’s fraudulent claims that Lindsay is anything but a stellar employee,” O’Brien said. “She can hold her head up high. The truth is known to all her colleagues and many friends here.”



Free Press Takes University to Court over Transparency

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 11:01am
Jonathan PetersJuly 21, 2014Columbia Journalism Review

Investment commitments and funding of more than $120 million, a property purchase for $12.8 million, construction of a new biological sciences building—all unanimously approved by the University of Michigan Board of Regents without public deliberation or discussion. Those allegations, among others, are at the heart of a lawsuit filed last week by the Guild-represented Detroit Free Press and the Lansing State Journal, in the Michigan Court of Claims. The papers are suing the Regents under the state Open Meetings Act and the state constitution, which both guarantee in different ways public access to government meetings.

Kara Swisher: Tech's Most Feared and Well-Liked Journalist

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 10:32am
Benjamin WallaceJuly 21, 2014New York Magazine

The technology journalist Kara Swisher likes to call herself Sherlock Homo, but on a spring evening in Austin, where she’d come for the SXSW Interactive conference, she wasn’t following any particular trail of clues. Padding through the crowd on the second floor of Perry’s Steakhouse, where a venture-capital firm and a money-management firm were throwing a party, she’d chatted briefly with Steve Case, founder of AOL, who greeted her with the wary intimacy one might show a pit bull of uncertain loyalty. So begins New York magazine's sprawling profile of Swisher, a former Guild member at The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. 

Ellsberg Billboards Around DC Urge Whistleblowing

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 9:57am
StaffJuly 21, 2014Institute for Public Accuracy

Pushing for whistleblowing in the nation’s capital, the new organization ExposeFacts, part of the Institute for Public Accuracy, has funded 13 billboards near Capitol Hill, the Justice Department, the White House, the Government Accountability Office, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the State Department, a popular bookstore at Dupont Circle and other prominent locations. The six-foot billboards display a message from Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg: “Don’t do what I did. Don’t wait until a new war has started, don’t wait until thousands more have died, before you tell the truth with documents that reveal lies or crimes or internal projections of costs and dangers. You might save a war’s worth of lives.” Expose Facts bills itself as "For Whistleblowing, Journalism and Democracy. Learn more at www.exposefacts.org.

Transparency Measure Backed By Guild on Oakland Ballot

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 9:35am
Richard KneeJuly 21, 2014Pacific Media Workers Guild

hanks partly to the Pacific Media Workers Guild’s efforts, a city charter amendment aimed at improving transparency in local government and politics will go before Oakland voters in November. The amendment to give Oakland’s Public Ethics Commission broader authority, more staffing and greater independence and strengthen whistleblower protections has the support of the PMWG, other journalists’ groups, current and former commissioners and scores of good-government advocates. Oakland’s eight-member City Council voted 7-0 on July 15 to put the amendment on the ballot after hearing from about two dozen activists, including a PMWG representative, who all supported the measure. The PMWG, acting on a recommendation from its Legislative and Political Committee, voted to back the amendment at a joint meeting of the Local’s Executive Committee, Representative Assembly and general membership on June 21. Photo: Oakland City Council.

GateHouse Targets Rockford/Freeport Photojournalists

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 1:51pm
Jeff GordonJuly 17, 2014United Media Guild

The two surviving photographers at the Rockford Register Star and Freeport Journal-Standard are under siege. During the latest round of bargaining for a first contract at these newspapers, the company submitted a proposal that would allow it to outsource photography. The papers already make extensive use of freelancers. This proposal would allow the company to eliminate the remaining staff positions. Jeff Gordon, president of the St. Louis-based United Media Guild writes, "This is not an idle GateHouse threat. After the Dow Jones Local Media Group came under GateHouse Media control, that chain’s flagship newspaper, the Middletown Times Herald-Record, laid off all four of its photographers so it could exclusively use freelancers."

Snowden: Urgent for Journalists, Others to Upgrade Security

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 1:44pm
Comments Made During 7-Hour Interview with The Guardian​​

Alan Rusbridger & Ewen MacAskillJuly 17, 2014The Guardian

In an exhaustive interview with The Guardian, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden urged lawyers, journalists, doctors, accountants, priests and others with a duty to protect confidentiality to upgrade security in the wake of the spy surveillance revelations. "What last year's revelations showed us was irrefutable evidence that unencrypted communications on the internet are no longer safe. Any communications should be encrypted by default," he said. Among many other subjects discussed, Snowden said he could live with being sent to Gitmo, but if tried for leaking top-secret documents he wants a trial by jury, not judge; he vehemently denied being a Russian spy; and he described an NSA culture in which nude photographs of people under surveillance are passed around among employees.

Hartford Courant: Delivering the News Since Colonial Times

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 10:23am
PR NewswireJuly 17, 2014Providence Journal

Nearly 12 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed, another important and historic work was printed -- the very first edition of what is today The Hartford Courant. The nation's oldest continuously published newspaper is marking its 250th anniversary with a yearlong celebration of the moments that have shaped the state, nation and readers' lives, from before the American Revolution to today. Among fun historical facts about the paper, George Washington placed an ad in the Courant to lease part of his Mount Vernon land. Thomas Jefferson sued paper for libel -- and lost. And Mark Twain tried to buy stock in the Courant but his offer was turned down.

Journalists Injured, Arrested Amid Iraq Violence in Past Week

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 9:20am
StaffJuly 17, 2014Committee to Protect Journalists

At least two journalists were wounded, another arrested, and a newspaper office raided in the past week in Iraq amid heightened political uncertainty and violence, according to news reports and local press freedom groups. "Times of crisis put journalists at greater risk, but it is exactly at these times that the work of journalists is crucial," said CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour. The wounded journalists were on assignment for the U.S.-funded Arabic TV station Al-Hurra; one of them may be an AP cameraman but AP hasn't confirmed that.

IAPE & Dow Jones Agree to One-Year Contract Extension

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 10:48am
StaffJuly 15, 2014Independent Association of Publishers' Employees

IAPE, the Guild local that represents the Wall Street Journal and other Dow Jones media, has reached a tentative agreement with the company for a one-year extension of its contract covering 1,500 employees across the United States and in Canada. The deal will be presented to IAPE members for a ratification vote later this month. The extension provides salary increases of at least 2 percent for all IAPE-represented employees retroactive to July 1, 2014. All other terms and conditions of the 2010-2014 contract remain unchanged. "The team thought the extension was the better choice for IAPE at this point in time," said IAPE President Bob Kozma. "The one-year extension preserves the current contract features and protections we have enjoyed. In addition, the one-year extension guarantees a wage increase for this year."

No Opposition: NY Guild Election Won't Have to Be Rerun

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 3:48pm
StaffJuly 14, 2014The Newspaper Guild of New York

A single slate of candidates that includes the New York Guild's two current paid officers and its other incumbent rank-and-file leaders was deemed to be elected last week when no opposing nominations were made in a government-supervised rerun of last November's election, which the Guild agreed to hold. The slate, led by President Bill O'Meara and Secretary-Treasurer Peter Szekely, also includes a handful of new members, including New York Times Unit Chair Grant Glickson, who had unsuccessfully challenged O'Meara in the November election.

Staff Represented by NY Guild Organizes Reality TV Company

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 2:36pm
Jackie TortoraJuly 14, 2014AFL-CIO

The Writers Guild of America East, whose staff is represented by the Newspaper Guild of New York, is getting some buzz today for organizing the reality TV production company, Original Media. The company's well known productions include "Ink Master," "Comic Book Men," and "Swamp People." Workers voted overwhelmingly to join WGAE. “The men and women who work so hard to create nonfiction (reality) TV shows have demonstrated that they want WGAE representation to help them improve their working conditions and to build sustainable careers. We look forward to sitting down with the company and negotiating a contract that will provide health benefits, paid time off, minimum compensation levels and other basic union protections,” says Lowell Peterson, WGAE executive director. "Comic Book Man" photo from Original Media website.

Missouri's ProVote Signs Recognition Agreement with UMG

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 2:09pm
Shannon DuffyJuly 14, 2014United Media Guild

Staff at ProVote, otherwise known as the Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition, has joined the St. Louis-based United Media Guild. The organization's executive director, Matthew Patterson (pictured), signed the agreement with the union last week. ProVote describes itself as a “statewide coalition of labor unions and community groups that work to promote progressive policies through electoral engagement. We believe grassroots groups can be more effective by working together.” ProVote has offices in St. Louis and Springfield, Mo., and expects to open a third office, in Kansas City, in the near future. Also pictured: Witnessing Patterson signing the agreement are Witnessing are the Rev. Teresa Danieley, UMG Administrative Officer Shannon Duffy and Ashli Bolden, community organizer (and UMG Unit Chair) from Missouri Jobs with Justice.

Name a J-School Prof Raising Hell about Press Freedom

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 10:15am
Karl IdsvoogJuly 14, 2014When Journalism Fails

Professor Karl Idsvoog is on a mission to find a journalism professor anywhere in the United States "outraged at the Obama Administration using the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers wanting to tell the truth about what the secret government is doing... Where are the directors of America's journalism schools? Why aren't they objecting to a concentrated attack on free speech?"

WashPost 'Debriefs' Latest Story on NSA Spying Revelations

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 9:58am
Barton GellmanJuly 14, 2014The Washington Post

Writing for The Washington Post's "The Debrief," reporter Barton Gellman looks at last week's NSA story. "The story, based on 160,000 intercepted communications I received from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, has provoked a lot of questions, objections, and, I think, misunderstandings... NSA surveillance is a complex subject — legally, technically and operationally. We drafted the story carefully and stand by all of it. I want to unpack some of the main points and controversies, sprinkling in new material for context. In this format, I can offer more technical detail about the data set that Snowden provided and the methods we used to analyze it. I will also address some ethical and national security issues we faced. Along the way, I will explain why our story actually understated its findings, clear up speculation about spying on President Obama and fact-check a recent CIA tweet about lost passwords."

Liberal Bookstore Owner Takes on Union and Sparks Revolt

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 9:43am
Rachel L. SwarnsJuly 14, 2014The New York Times

Self-described "extremely progressive liberal" bookstore owner Chris Doeblin found himself and his business in hot water in his Manhattan neighborhood last month when he fired five employees who joined the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. “I was, frankly, appalled,” said Rosalind Morris, an anthropology professor at Columbia who lives in the neighborhood and co-founded a faculty email list that was abuzz over the labor dispute. “It seemed like a significant misreading of the constituency that he serves and needs.” Doeblin quickly retreated, striking a deal with the union and rehiring four of the five workers. But he doesn't regret what he did and still opposes the union.

Why Collective Bargaining is a Fundamental Human Right

Fri, 07/11/2014 - 2:17pm
Robert CreamerJuly 11, 2014Huffington Post

The ability for ordinary working people to organize and collectively bargain over their wages and working conditions is a fundamental human right. It is a right just as critical to a democratic society as the right to free speech and the right to vote. Over the last 30 years many in corporate America and the big Wall Street banks have conducted a sustained attack on that human right. Unionization dropped from 20.1 percent of the workforce in 1983 to 11. 3 percent in 2013 -- and the results are there for everyone to see. During that period productivity and Gross Domestic Product per capita both increased by roughly 80 percent in America. But the wages of ordinary Americans have remained stagnant. Virtually all of the fruits of that increased productivity have gone to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. No wonder the gang on Wall Street opposes unions.

Ten Truths You Might Not Know About Tipped Workers

Fri, 07/11/2014 - 12:46pm
Kenneth QuinnellJuly 11, 2014AFL-CIO

Summarizing a new Economic Policy Institute report, the AFL-CIO offers a list of 10 things most of us might not know about tipped workers. For instance, it has been 23 years since the federal minimum wage for tipped workers, currently $2.13 an hour, was last raised. And nearly half (46 percent) of tipped workers rely on public benefits, compared to 35.5 percent of non-tipped workers, meaning that taxpayers are subsidizing their wages.

Brits Gave U.S. Heads Up about Guardian Data Destruction

Fri, 07/11/2014 - 10:45am
Jack GillumJuly 11, 2014Associated Press

The Obama administration knew in advance that the British government would oversee destruction of a newspaper's hard drives containing leaked National Security Agency documents last year, newly declassified documents show. The White House had said it would be nearly unimaginable for the U.S. government to do the same to an American news organization. The Guardian newspaper, responding to threats from the British government in July 2013, destroyed the data roughly a month after it and other media outlets first published details from the top secret documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The Editor the Post's Gene Weingarten Calls 'Tom the Butcher'

Fri, 07/11/2014 - 10:40am
Jack LimpertJuly 11, 2014JackLimpert.com

Gene Weingarten, the two-time Pulitizer Prize-winning writer for the Washington Post, occasionally mentions his editor, described only as “Tom the Butcher.” In last Sunday’s Post column, Weingarten wrote about a speech he had given at Howard University where he talked about his “crippling neurosis bordering on mental illness” and winning the Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. He said: “As I often do when I am insecure, I sought reassurance from my friend and editor, Tom the Butcher. I explained that I feared I don’t deserve this honor, and Tom said, ‘Wait, is it a lifetime achievement award?’ When I confirmed that it was, he said: ‘It’s fine. Those are usually given out at the point in someone’s career when his greatest continuing achievement is a solid bowel movement in the morning.’” Just who is "Tom the Butcher"?