National Labor Relations Board judge rules Post-Gazette violated federal labor law; must bargain with union and restore previous contract

An administrative law judge from the National Labor Relations Board handed journalists at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette a major victory Thursday by ruling the newspaper didn’t negotiate in good faith, illegally imposed working conditions and unlawfully surveilled workers engaged in union activities.

Geoffrey Carter, who heard the case last fall, ordered the newspaper to resume bargaining with the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh within 15 days of the union requesting it. He also ordered the company to rescind the unilateral working conditions it had imposed in 2020, and restore the union’s previous contract, which expired in 2017.

Carter further ordered the company to “make its employees whole for any loss of earnings and other benefits that resulted from its unlawful unilateral changes.” Union officials had estimated at one point that the company’s bill could be about $4 million.

Continue reading at unionprogress.com, subscribe and donate to the striker fund.

Judge rules Pittsburgh Post-Gazette bargained in bad faith, must release previous contract and undo unilateral changes

CONTACTS: ZACK TANNER
PRESIDENT, NEWSPAPER GUILD OF PITTSBURGH
724-761-6969
ZACK@ZACKTANNER.COM 

JOSEPH J. PASS
ATTORNEY
412-281-3850
JJP@JPILAW.COM

JAN. 26, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

In a major victory for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette workers represented by the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, an administrative law judge ruled overwhelmingly Thursday that Post-Gazette management and representatives have bargained in bad faith with the guild since 2017 and, in doing so, violated the National Labor Relations Act.

As a result, Judge Geoffrey Carter ordered the Post-Gazette to end the impasse that the company unilaterally declared in July 2020, to undo changes to working conditions that the company imposed in 2020, to restore the guild’s 2014-17 contract, and to begin bargaining within 15 days of the guild’s request to do so. 

Additionally, Judge Carter ordered the Post-Gazette to make whole workers who lost wages or benefits caused by the illegal imposition of conditions in 2020.

Judge Carter also ruled that security guards employed by the Post-Gazette illegally photographed workers in October 2020 while they were participating in protected union activities outside the home of PG publisher and co-owner John Robinson Block.

“Today is a monumental victory for Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh workers,” said Zack Tanner, Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh president. “This ruling undoes years of illegal behavior by the Post-Gazette and tells it loud and clear that when workers stand and fight together, they win.

“We’re still on strike against the Post-Gazette, and the PG’s owners, the Blocks, have to know that their time is running out,” Tanner added. “We implore the company to do the right thing and acknowledge the judge’s ruling, follow his orders immediately and stop treating its workforce with such animosity.”

The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh’s contract with the Post-Gazette expired March 31, 2017 — nearly six years ago. Since the start of 2017, the two parties have met more than 20 times in fruitless negotiations — including four times since guild workers began an unfair labor practice strike in October 2022. At each of those sessions, the company was unwilling to move at all on any of its positions. 

Despite not awarding a general raise to their award-winning journalists in more than 15 years, the Post-Gazette’s previous contract proposals have all demanded additional concessions. 

In July 2020, the company decided to quit bargaining, declared an impasse in contract negotiations and unilaterally imposed working conditions that, among other things: forced members onto a more expensive health care plan that the company could change or eliminate at will, eliminated a guaranteed work week, gave managers free rein to do union work, removed the right to demand arbitration of disputes, and allowed the company to lay off workers without regard to seniority.

In October 2022, Block Communications Inc., which owns the PG, effectively removed production, distribution and advertising workers from their health care plan by refusing to pay a $19-a-week premium increase, as well as refusing to let workers deduct those increases from their own paychecks. Those workers, represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), struck in early October. The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh began its own unfair labor practice strike two weeks later.

“This victory should send shockwaves through every member of the Block family and show them that they have received terrible legal advice for years,” said NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss. “Guild members in Pittsburgh have been so brave to hold the line — holding their own bosses to account and raising the standards for every local journalist on the continent.”

To mark 100 days on strike and to celebrate their massive victory in this case, striking Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh workers will host a rally at noon Saturday outside the City-County Building on Grant Street, where they will be joined by union members, community stakeholders, elected officials and other supporters. 

Newsletter: Mourning a Guild mentor, celebrating a successful strike

Subscribe to our newsletter

Happy Thursday! 

First, last year’s NewsGuild-CWA numbers were incredible. Members held 21 work stoppages, including the two open-ended strikes in Pittsburgh and Fort Worth. We welcomed 1,999 new members from 35 newly unionized workplaces. And Guild members won 71 contracts last year, including 31 first contracts! Congratulations to all!

We had sad news last week. We lost a beloved retired NewsGuild staff rep, Bruce Nelson. Bruce died last Tuesday, January 10. He helped mentor and build up Guild members for three decades, until he retired in 2015. Born in St. Cloud, Minn., he spent his career involved in journalism, first as an award-winning reporter in Minnesota and then as a Guild staff rep. He worked alongside members at nearly every Guild paper, including the Washington Post, Albany Times Union, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Sun Times and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 

Tomorrow, several Guild members will gather to celebrate Bruce’s life. Funeral services will be held on Friday, Jan. 20, at Donaldson Funeral Home in Laurel, Maryland. Services begin at 1pm.  

Members are now three months into their strike in Pittsburgh! I’ve been with members here and they’re doing amazing things. They’ve launched a petition calling for the removal of Allan Block, one of the Post-Gazette owners, from C-SPAN’s board. They’re telling the Pittsburgh Steelers to drop their relationship with the PG. 

Please take two minutes and add your name to those petitions!

Despite these wins, the PG has refused to bargain and settle the strike. 

To be clear, our demands are simple and reasonable: that the PG reinstate workers’ health coverage and agree to follow federal labor law. That’s it!  

Their stall tactics won’t work. We’ve raised more than $207k to support striking workers, and are continuing to grow that number! This week we’re aiming to raise $40k, which just so happens to be the amount of bonuses the PG recently handed to people crossing the picket line. 

Can you stand in solidarity and contribute right now? 

The amazing journalists at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram won their strike! After 24 days on the line, they won a very good first contract and ratified it unanimously. This contract raised the salary floor from McClatchy’s $45,000 up to $52,000 for current staffers. They won gender-inclusive language on family leave allowances when a worker has a child. They won more flexibility on bereavement leave. And so much more! Congrats to our awesome members in Texas! 

Side note, major props to the Tarrant County Labor Council, who showed up from day one to picket with folks — and brought Scabby the Rat! Also thanks to the Texas AFL-CIO and CWA District 6 for supporting our folks! Workers raised more than $50,000 to support their strike. 

We had our first ever virtual nominating conference in early January. If you missed it, you can watch the whole thing on Facebook. An amazing crop of new leaders is stepping up. Nine Executive Council positions were filled for terms that will begin in July. You can see the full list of members and read more about our new EC on our website

Need a map of all the regions? See that here. 

We also got to thank the current Executive Council leaders, which is filled with folks who have dedicated many years of their lives to our collective fight. Congrats to everyone and my huge appreciation for everyone who’s leaving us and made our union strong for many decades!

Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined our call to stop the hedge fund takeover of local news. Did you see her powerful letter to the Federal Communications Commission, asking them to intervene in the attempted takeover of TEGNA by hedge fund Standard General? Thank you, Sen. Warren for joining our call: protect media jobs and stop the hedge fund takeover of local news!

Steward training is continuing. Next Wednesday we’ll have Module 2: A Workplace Organizer, followed by four more modules every other week through March. See and register for events on our calendar.

I feel so inspired to work with all of y’all every day. We have a righteous fight on our hands and we are WINNING. Keep it up!

In solidarity,
Jon

Bruce Nelson, pictured in 2014

Guild loses Bruce Nelson, mentor to hundreds

Bruce Raymond Nelson, 73, died Tuesday, January 10, 2023 in Laurel, Md. Bruce was a NewsGuild staff representative for three decades, starting in 1984 and retiring in 2015. 

Bruce trained hundreds of members, at sector meetings, district meetings and alongside workers at the bargaining table. 

Born in St. Cloud, Minn., he spent his career involved in journalism, first as an award-winning reporter in Minnesota and then as a Guild staff rep, working alongside members at nearly every Guild paper, including the Washington Post, Albany Times Union, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Sun Times and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, to name just a few. 

While in college, he reported for Minnesota’s St. Cloud Daily Times and tried to organize his coworkers in 1971. “I saw the St. Paul Pioneer Press contract and a salary that was four times what I was getting,” he told the Guild Reporter in 2015. He happily jumped ship, ultimately serving as local president before joining the Guild staff in January 1984.

In addition to being an extremely skilled negotiator, Bruce was also a talented educator. His unparalleled skill as a trainer has made an indelible mark on the Guild, as literally hundreds of Guild leaders learned the ropes from Bruce at the New Local Officers Seminar and at countless training sessions at district council meetings and conventions.  

“Much of my training as a local leader came through Bruce,” said Marian Needham, the NewsGuild-CWA Executive Vice President. “I had the benefit of working with him years later when we were both national reps, and I continued to learn from him in that role. With humor, intelligence and a great big heart, Bruce helped us all understand the meaning of our union.”

“I first met Bruce after he retired when I was running for president in 2019,” said NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss. “He had this way of resting his fingers on his forehead and troubleshooting several problems at once in his mind. And then he had so much joy when he saw the collective win to the problem.”

“He was very instrumental with Washington Post negotiations for many, many years,” said Cet Parks, Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild Executive Director. “In negotiations Bruce would sit there and management would ask him what he thought,” he said. “He had the uncanny ability to use the Jedi mind trick on management to think of him as neutral,” he said. Bruce helped WBNG secure several agreements. “He was one of a kind,” Cet said. 

“You just loved him once you worked with him,” said CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens, who worked with Bruce when she bargained for the Guild. “He has such a sense of union building,” she said. “It’s a rare quality to be so grounded in why we do this work and it was inspiring to everyone around him.”

“Bruce was extremely intelligent, possessed insight, was a keen judge of human nature, had a sly sense of humor, friendly and had a knowledge of labor relations that benefitted not only all of us in Albany, but across the Guild,” wrote the Albany Newspaper Guild.

At the time of his retirement in 2015, many Guild leaders and staffers remarked on Bruce’s ability to build the Guild.

“No one has had as profound an influence on our union as Bruce Nelson,” said Darren Carroll, a longtime staff rep who’s now retired. “His legacy will endure in the hundreds of people that he recruited, trained, encouraged and mentored, imparting a philosophy to each of them that underpins all that we do: namely, that we build power by sharing it, that we become stronger through the relationships we build with others in our union,” he said. “In making that fundamental concept central to his work, he helped each of us not simply to become better leaders, but better people.”

Bruce is survived by his loving wife of 23 years, Melissa (Cunningham) Nelson, retired Guild director of collective bargaining, children Andrea Bachinski and Joshua Locke, daughters-in-law Megan Bachinski and Daniela Pereira de Carvalho, sister-in-law Diane Cantele (Timothy), brothers-in-law Patrick Cunningham and Michael Cunningham (Heather), dearest cousin Nan Nelson, several nieces and nephews, and many cousins.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m., Friday, January 20 at Donaldson Funeral Home, P.A. in Laurel, Md.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Bruce’s memory to Camp Friendship/True Friends, 10509 108th Street NW, Annandale, MN 55302 or online at truefriends.org.

Nine Executive Council members elected by acclamation

On Saturday, The NewsGuild’s 2023 Nominating Conference was held virtually and nine nominations were made for nine positions, electing three new members of the Guild’s Executive Council. 

The current members of the Executive Council will continue out their terms through the conclusion of the 2023 Sector Conference this July in St. Louis. 

Diane Mastrull was elected for a first term as Sector Chairperson. Mastrull is an editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer and president of The NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia, TNG-CWA 38010. Mastrull will replace Martha Waggoner, who served as chair since 2011.

Jon Schleuss was elected for a second term as President. Schleuss is a member of the Media Guild of the West, TNG-CWA 39213. Schleuss was a data and graphics reporter at the Los Angeles Times prior to becoming president in 2019. 

Marian Needham was elected for a third term as Executive Vice President. Needham is a member of the Buffalo Newspaper Guild, TNG-CWA 31026. She was the administrative officer in Buffalo and hired by the international union in 1990, first as director of contract administration, and later, as a sector rep.

Kathy McCabe was elected for a first term as Region 1 Vice President. McCabe is treasurer of the Boston Newspaper Guild, TNG-CWA 31245. McCabe is a city editor at the Boston Globe. 

Dan Gabor was elected for a second term as Region 2 Vice President. Gabor is president of the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild, TNG-CWA 32035. Gabor works as a senior data coordinator at the AFL-CIO. 

Sandra Tan was elected for a first term as Region 3 Vice President. Tan is the former president of the Buffalo Newspaper Guild, TNG-CWA 31026. Tan is a reporter at the Buffalo News and served as local president for six years. Tan will replace Kevin Flowers, current Region 3 Vice President. Flowers is the president of the Erie Newspaper Guild, TNG-CWA 38187.

Michael Cabanatuan was elected for a fifth term as Region 4 Vice President. He’s a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle and has been a Guild activist for the better part of two decades. 

Bill Baker was elected for a second term as Region 5 Vice President. Baker is the unit chair at the New York Times, leading hundreds of workers on a one day strike late last year. He’s been a proud union member (CWA, IBEW, NewsGuild-CWA) in telecommunications for most of his career. 

Andrew Carillo was elected for a first term as Region 6 Vice President. Carillo is the first vice president of the Denver Newspaper Guild, TNG-CWA 37074. Carillo will replace Jeff Gordon, who’s been a regional vice president since 2015. Carillo is a senior and lead organizer for internal health care at SEIU Local 105.

No other candidates were nominated, so all candidates were elected by acclamation.

TNG’s Nominating Conference is in less than a month

Registration for delegates and alternates attending the first virtual Nominating Conference of The NewsGuild-CWA is now open. Locals can register ​participants from now until January 6, using the Sector Conference On-Line Registration ​(SCOR) ​system. Instructions for the registration system were emailed to local officers and staff.

The conference will begin at 12 p.m. ET on Saturday, January 7, 2023 on Zoom.

Continue reading “TNG’s Nominating Conference is in less than a month”
Reviewed Union - "We reviewed the options...and it's time for a union."

Reviewed staff forms a union

Workers at Reviewed.com have formed a union and are joining the Boston Newspaper Guild, a local of The NewsGuild-CWA.

A supermajority of editorial employees at Reviewed, part of the USA TODAY network—from writers and editors to our art, community, lab and operations teams—have formed a union. The Reviewed Union is part of the Boston Newspaper Guild, TNG-CWA Local 31245.

The editorial team at Reviewed works together to publish some of the industry’s best product reviews and consumer recommendations. In other words, our job is to help you buy the best stuff and love what you’ve already got.

But that isn’t sustainable for us without better working conditions. Our colleague Joanna told us that “despite receiving glowing performance reviews and working above and beyond my job description, I’m not being compensated on the most basic of levels. This is one of many reasons I am standing with my colleagues to unionize; 50% of my net income goes to rent, or one entire paycheck. I’m one rent increase away from being forced to move out of state.”

We can’t do our jobs if we’re barely making enough to feed and house ourselves, but, in the face of record inflation and rent hikes, we’re told that basic COLA or annual wage increases can’t be guaranteed, that we’re losing our 401k matches, and that hundreds of our Gannett colleagues are losing their jobs.

Our staff has been organizing for months, and we are reclaiming our power to make Reviewed a better place. By forming a union, we will position ourselves to fight against wage disparities, expensive health insurance plans, unjust terminations, unclear in-person and remote working policies, a lack of editorial independence, and more. We’re organizing as workers for a more fair share of the revenue that we produce for Gannett every day, and to struggle against the unilateral austerity measures being imposed by Mike Reed and Gannett leadership which are impacting shops like ours around the country.

When we reach a collective bargaining agreement, we are confident that Reviewed will be a much better place for all of us–and that will be reflected in our editorial content, too. While you may enjoy reading our current reviews of the best air fryers or following our Amazon Prime Day coverage, imagine how much better our work would be if we received the competitive pay, benefits, and support that we deserve.

Our fellow worker Sara put it best. “Forming a union will help pave the way for not only a better Reviewed in the present but for years to come as well. A union gives everyone a seat at the table to have a say in creating a work culture centered on transparency and equity.” Kaleb told us that “Joining a union needn’t be reactive; it can also be proactive. I enjoy my role at Reviewed and I know others enjoy what they do, too. In order to make sure I can keep doing what I love no matter how the economy progresses, I am joining the union.”

We often hear about record profits and impressive reader engagement. While Gannett’s overall numbers are down year-over-year, we’re told that Reviewed remains a “Northstar” priority and a huge revenue driver, particularly because of our coverage of e-commerce events like Black Friday / Cyber Monday—and we are! We work nights and weekends to bring deals coverage and product reviews to our readers that drive millions in affiliate sales during the shopping season. This is money made from our hard work, but we workers do not reap the benefits of it. Instead, we receive pizza parties and pats on the back—barely consolation prizes compared to what we deserve.

With the help of our fellow NewsGuild members under Gannett and the support of each other, we believe that our union can empower and support every Reviewed worker to win a seat at the table. Our efforts are stronger together.

We are proud to join dozens of online and print media outlets who have fought to build a stronger, more supportive industry. Like those who came before us, we hope our efforts leave behind a legacy of worker solidarity and the strength we have when we organize. Workers united will never be defeated.

Now, we demand that Reviewed management voluntarily recognizes our union so that we can reach a fair and just contract for all of us.

For more information, check out our website at reviewedunion.org or email us at reviewedunion@gmail.com.

Striking journalists at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram picketing in the neighborhood of editor-in-chief Steve Coffman on December 12, 2022.

Newsletter: The best holiday gift is a fair contract

Subscribe to the Guild’s newsletter here.

All around the country, NewsGuild members are rising up to demand a fair contract.

The New York Times Guild walked off the job on Thursday, in a one-day work stoppage with a super majority of the entire place participating. Not only are reporters, photographers and other newsroom workers part of the Guild, but so are editorial assistants, security guards, IT specialists and many others.

Some of these workers earn as little as $52,000 a year and are expected to live in New York City. That, and an unfair labor practice, are a major reason more than 1,100 workers walked out last week. Claudia Irizarry Aponte spent time talking with the lower paid workers at the New York Times to tell their stories.

Continue reading “Newsletter: The best holiday gift is a fair contract”

Here’s how you can support our striking workers

Let’s show striking NewsGuild-CWA members some love this holiday season!

Our members at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have been on strike since mid-October, and they’re still holding the line for a fair contract. Workers have created a new publication, the Pittsburgh Union Progress, to share strike updates and community news, and they’re tweeting at @ThePUPnews. Consider contributing to their strike fund, or participate in #StrikeSanta! All the gifts listed were personally selected by striking workers in Pittsburgh and their families.

We also have members on strike in Fort Worth, Texas. Workers at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram walked out in late November over unfair labor practices by Star-Telegram owner McClatchy. Follow @FortWorthGuild for updates, and show your support by contributing to their strike fund.