Update on litigation against NewsGuild members

In June 2021 Mike Elk filed a lawsuit against four NewsGuild-CWA members, the international union and the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh alleging breach of contract over his sources, misrepresentation, defamation and other claims. His lawsuit against our members, myself included, came in the wake of sexual harassment allegations in our Pittsburgh local.

We believe that Elk’s lawsuit is meritless and are vigorously defending against his claims in court.

As Defendants, we are obligated to provide materials in discovery to Elk. In August, we responded to hundreds of requests for documents and questions from Elk. We turned over more than 1,400 pages of documents, including my communications with Ben Smith, a former media columnist at the New York Times. In our request to Elk for information, we asked for his correspondence with Smith, which relates directly to his claims in the lawsuit. We also asked Elk for any other communications he had related to his allegations.

We first asked him for relevant documents on September 19, 2022. Because Elk failed to fully comply with his discovery obligations, after many requests for him to do so, we were forced to file a motion to compel. On September 14, 2023, the Court granted our motion and ordered Elk to, “comply with discovery within thirty (30) days of this date of this Order or appropriate sanctions shall be imposed upon Plaintiff.” The deadline to produce these documents is Monday. To date, he has not provided the requested material.

Curiously, on Friday, Smith, now editor-in-chief at Semafor, reached out asking for comment. He wrote: “​​Jon — Ben Smith here, with I suspect something you may want to kick to comms: But apparently in the ongoing Mike Elk lawsuit, the Guild has demanded all correspondence between Elk and New York Times reporters including me. I was surprised News Guild would go after confidential reporter correspondence, and obviously the Times is agitated about it, though I think it’s within your legal rights. Anything you can tell me?”

We are seeking Elk’s communications as they relate to his allegations against our members, including allegations related directly to Smith’s reporting (a New York Times column that ran in Dec. 2020). Elk cannot ask for justice and also seek to deny it to those who he accuses by refusing to provide the relevant requested information. Despite Smith’s innuendo, we have not and will not serve discovery requests on The New York Times, or any reporter, for this information.

We have an obligation to vigorously defend our members in the workplace and in the courtroom and we will continue to do so. While this lawsuit has been an unfortunate distraction and has taken resources from our members, we will continue to organize thousands of workers into our union and support campaigns that increase our members’ wages, improve benefits, and safeguard a craft that has been under attack for years.

After sexual harassment allegations were raised in Pittsburgh, our members and leaders took several steps to improve our culture and fight harassment in every form in our union. Pittsburgh members immediately asked for the local president’s resignation. He resigned from office and quit his job at the Post-Gazette. We then held town halls and one-on-one listening sessions with our members and crafted a path forward intended to prevent anything like this from happening again. We approved significantly stronger anti-sexual harassment procedures and policies, including a new complaint process for sexual harassment survivors and a new training program for members and leaders. All of this has been extensively covered and communicated on our website and in numerous messages to our membership.

If you have questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to me at jschleuss@cwa-union.org.

Photo of Jon Schleuss in front of Pittsburgh skyline

Happy Labor Day 2023!

Happy Labor Day!

Hopefully you’re off today and taking time today to reflect on the struggles we face as working people.

I’m writing to you from Pittsburgh where I’m supporting our members at the Post-Gazette, who have been on strike for the last 11 months. Workers here are holding their employer to account, demanding they follow federal labor law and provide affordable health insurance to their colleagues. This is a difficult fight, but I know we will win it.

Workers across the NewsGuild, from media, to interpreters, nonprofit workers and labor movement activists are making sure we hold the line and do whatever it takes to get the respect we deserve in the workplace.

Our members who work in the labor movement face their own threats. For example, the staff at the AFL-CIO has faced death by a thousand cuts even though the federation has raked in more dues from affiliate members. It’s time for those workers to finally get a decent wage and protections for their healthcare and retirement.

In the time since last year’s Labor Day more than 1,100 workers have unionized with us from Condé Nast, Cityside, SEIU Healthcare Michigan, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, ProPublica and many more workplaces. And we’ve gone on strike A LOT.

In 2022, 21 newsrooms went on strike for one day or longer, demanding first contracts and for their employer to follow the law. So far in 2023, 28 newsrooms have gone on strike.

Currently workers are on strike at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and TVO, the provincial public broadcaster in Ontario. TVO workers are demanding fair pay to keep up with inflation and protections from temporary work. TVO workers have a righteous fight on their hands as they hold the line alongside all Guild members.

And we’re getting solidarity from other unions, from the United Steelworkers, to SEIU, to the Teamsters and CUPE in Canada. Workers from other unions have stood on our picket lines and supported our causes.

It seems we are under attack in almost every single workplace. But we are fighting back.

And we have more power than we know.

Have a safe and happy Labor Day this year and continue to build a union of love and compassion for your colleagues and our society.

In solidarity,

Newsletter: Meet Polkarunion, TVO’s strike mascot

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On Monday, Canadian Media Guild members at TVO, the Ontario public broadcaster, spent 10 hours in bargaining pushing management on the two major sticking points: wages and protections from precarious work. They didn’t get a deal, but made progress.

Last Wednesday I flew up to Toronto to rally alongside our members and other unions calling on the Ontario government to Fund TVO “Like it matters!” I got to meet many of the 74 strikers in my trip and many have worked for TVO for years in either the journalism, education or kids departments. For folks who grew up in Ontario, many know TVO Kids as the station they grew up with.

So, you need to meet Polkarunion, the official mascot of the TVO strike.

Continue reading “Newsletter: Meet Polkarunion, TVO’s strike mascot”

Unions call for accountability in Kansas newspaper raid


The Writers Guild of America, East and The NewsGuild-CWA demand the Marion County Police department be held accountable for its raid of the Marion County Record newspaper in Marion, Kansas.

The officers and officials who seized computers, phones and other data from reporters and the newspaper’s offices engaged in activities that are an affront to the constitutionally protected rights of journalists and news media workers.

Press freedom is a cornerstone of our democracy that is enshrined in the First Amendment of our Constitution and our unions will do everything to protect and preserve a free and independent press.

Newsletter: ⚡️ TVO workers on strike! ⚡️ 28th Guild strike of 2023

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More Guild members went on strike yesterday! Canadian Media Guild members at TVO, an English-language public broadcaster in Ontario with about 100 members, went on an open-ended legal strike protesting management’s refusal to pay a wage that keeps up with inflation and its insistence on continuing a practice of temporary and precarious employment for dozens of workers.

The Canadian Media Guild (TNG-CWA Local 30213) is the largest local in CWA Canada and The NewsGuild-CWA and represents workers at TVO, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, The Canadian Press, Canada’s National Observer and many other news organizations.

Management’s refusal to respect TVO workers has interrupted services the public relies on, such as The Agenda with Steve Paikin, TVO Today’s Ontario-focused journalism, children’s programming and online courses used by teachers in schools across the province.

Continue reading “Newsletter: ⚡️ TVO workers on strike! ⚡️ 28th Guild strike of 2023”
TVO workers on strike in Toronto on August 21, 2023

TVO members begin strike today

Jeanne d’Arc Umurungi
Communications Director, CMG

The Canadian Media Guild announced that TVO workers walked off the job today on a legal strike. “We are deeply saddened to have not been able to reach a fair and reasonable agreement with our employer,” CMG said in a statement. Annick Forest, President of the Canadian Media Guild and Meredith Martin CMG-TVO branch President are available to comment.

Workers feel they are being forced to take job action that will interrupt services the public relies on, such as The Agenda with Steve Paikin, TVO Today’s Ontario-focused journalism, children’s programming, and online courses used by teachers in schools across the province.

Continue reading “TVO members begin strike today”
Screenshot of a Zoom call with members of the newly formed ProPublica Guild

ProPublica Guild wins voluntary recognition

On Thursday, the employees of ProPublica won voluntary recognition of their union, the ProPublica Guild. The union — which secured support from 97% of eligible staff members — is wall-to-wall, covering editorial, business and operations departments at the largest nonprofit newsroom in the country.

“This is a momentous day for ProPublica. We look forward to writing a strong collective bargaining agreement that will help set the standard for newsrooms throughout the industry. We are immensely proud to join together in solidarity with our unionized colleagues to fight for a better future for newsroom employees everywhere,” graphics editor Lucas Waldron said. 

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We’re looking for an organizer to support legislative efforts and journalists

Journalists and media workers have unionized in the United States at a record pace. At the same time news companies have cut jobs, putting the country’s democracy at risk.  

The NewsGuild-CWA, a sector of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), seeks a campaign lead to channel the energy of our members, community supporters and policy stakeholders into winning legislative initiatives that support the follow demands:

Common Good Demands

  • Staff that is Adequate in Number – Hiring: In the last decade thousands of papers have shut their doors and half of all journalist jobs have disappeared. Existing newsroom staff have been cut to the bone and current workers are doing too much with too little – at Gannett outlets media workers are producing top-tier journalism in lowest-tier conditions. Gannett must immediately increase hiring into newsrooms across the country and make real a commitment to local journalism and local journalists.
  • Diverse in Perspective – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: In-depth, committed local news coverage requires newsrooms that have a diversity of views, cultures, and perspectives. As Gannett hires across the chain it must seek to create newsrooms diverse in perspective and skilled in navigating the communities being covered.
  • Developing Expertise in Craft – Sustainable Jobs: Gannett must commit to sufficient compensation to enable media workers to live and thrive in the communities they cover. The sustained deep and vital connections required to produce in-depth local news, the experience and training that feeds that growth, can exist only if media workers have secure jobs and fair compensation. Additionally, media workers must be afforded the benefits and paid-time off that support healthy work-life balance.

The position is initially slated to last a year but is subject to possible extension.

The ideal candidate will have experience running multiple organizing campaigns with professional workers. They will have the organizational and strategic skills necessary to inspire and activate workers to take action.

The position will report to The NewsGuild-CWA leadership and the CWA Organizing Director, coordinating regularly with senior campaign leads. The position can be based anywhere. It is currently remote but will involve regular travel once it is safe to do so.

Job Qualifications:

  • Willing and able to take regular direction and learn from experienced campaign staff
  • Willing to commit, energy, heart and long, irregular hours
  • Ability to learn and implement the campaign basics
  • Be able to take notes, listen and get information/report back to campaign leadership to evaluate campaigns
  • Ability to assess workers’ support of the campaign, identify potential committee members, move workers to make concrete commitments and take action, recruit people to a committee, facilitate committee meetings, work with groups.
  • Understand and discuss issues in a way that contribute to the momentum of an organizing campaign.
  • Have a fundamental commitment to building a diverse and democratic labor movement and ability to organize workers from diverse backgrounds and demographics.
  • Willing to attend an Organizing Institute
  • Basic communications skills, able to do basic flyers and other written material
  • Strong social, written and verbal communication skills
  • Motivated self-starter able to learn and troubleshoot without heavy supervision
  • Driver’s license and reliable car, must be able to travel to work locations away from home/office location.
  • 1-2 years (2 years preferable) of prior labor, political or community organizing experience
  • Patient in pressure situations and savvy with conflict management
  • Bilingual, a plus

Responsibilities when employed in an Organizing campaign:

  • Ability to assess
    support of the union or campaign, identify potential committee members, move workers to make concrete commitments and take action, recruit people to a committee, facilitate committee meetings, work with groups
  • Understand and discuss issues in a way that contribute to the momentum of a campaign
  • Utilize numerous organizing tactics including home-visiting, cold phone
    calling, hand billing, etc.
  • Have a fundamental commitment to building a diverse and democratic movement and ability to organize workers and citizens from diverse backgrounds and demographics
  • Along with campaign leadership, be able to work effectively with committee members
    • assist with moving campaigns to stage 3, i.e., an NLRB election or voluntary recognition campaign
    • keep the organizing committee on track
    • motivate them to move through roadblocks and be public when it is time
    • give them a realistic assessment of progress and inoculate them
  • Work with the local to help identify and encourage others in local to participate in organizing campaigns and build support for organizing
  • Along with the District Organizing Coordinator, be able to help develop and implement a local organizing plan
  • Submit reports as required, but at least monthly
  • Must be able to work on projects to build the local, but also be able to assist in national and district organizing projects.
  • Be heavily involved in major National and District Organizing Priority campaigns
  • Capable of running campaigns with minimal
    assistance, motivate and dig out committee members, work in a team with other organizers involved in the campaign
  • Be able to communicate effectively in writing, in speaking, and via electronic media.  Be able to work with data bases, able to do basic flyers and other written material
  • Able to function as a trainer at an Organizer Institute and train organizing committee members
  • Work with locals on National and District priority campaigns and help local organizers
  • Travel to work locations away from home and work location by car and plane to locations as needed
  • Computer skills that allow at least intermediate-level data management and communication

Job Specifications

Compensation: $73,617.07-$93,413.08/year depending on experience with an excellent benefits package.

The NewsGuild-CWA is an equal-opportunity employer and encourages applications from candidates who would expand the diversity of the Guild staff.

White House stands with our striking members

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Happy Friday, family!

Late yesterday, I popped into the unit leadership call with Insider Union members discussing the White House’s link to an Insider story in a recent email. Last Friday our family at Insider went on an unfair labor practice strike. Crossing a picket line is not OK and the White House quickly apologized and issued the following statement exclusively to our recently-launched strike publication Business Outsider

“Across the country, we’ve seen a historic wave of newsrooms demanding fair pay and benefits. This week alone, journalists at Gannett, Insider, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette remain on strike,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “All workers deserve a voice in the workplace, and journalists are no different.” 

Continue reading “White House stands with our striking members”
Photo of person holding sign at a rally during a strike at Gannett that reads, "Don't starve local news." Other workers and supporters are in the background with one sign that reads "Palm Beach NewsGuild walks out"

Here’s how you can support striking Guild members

Hundreds of Guild members from more than two dozen newsrooms went on strike across the U.S. in the past week, joining the strikers at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, who have been on strike for nine months.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Post-Gazette striker Steve Mellon speaks during the May Day Rally and March commemorating International Workers’ Day at the United Steelworkers Building, Downtown, on Monday, May 1, 2023. Behind him are fellow strikers Ed Blazina, left, John Santa and Andrew Goldstein. (Karen Carlin/Union Progress)

Workers from the newsroom and production side have been striking against the Block family over the company’s cancellation of health insurance and its illegal imposition of terms. They’re running a strike publication and continuing to hold the line and make sure that the company follows federal law.


Insider workers on the picket line in lower Manhattan earlier this week. (Insider Union)

About 300 journalists went on an open-ended strike on Friday, June 2 over an unfair labor practice where the company illegally changed health insurance without bargaining (sound familiar?). The workers are pushing for decent health care coverage, a livable minimum wage and protections from artificial intelligence eroding their jobs.


Hundreds of workers from about two dozen Gannett publications went on a one-, two- or five-day strike in Gannett over the company’s unfair labor practices. Workers pushed for a no-confidence vote and the Guild called on shareholders to withhold their votes for CEO Mike Reed this week. Under Reed’s stewardship of the company following the merger of GateHouse Media and Gannett Media in November 2019, newsrooms have been hollowed out, local news coverage has dwindled, and Gannett share prices have fallen nearly 70% – far more than peers in the industry like the New York Times and Lee Enterprises. Shares tumbled more than 10% after the walkout. Several newsrooms set up fundraisers to help cover the lost wages during the strike.