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.

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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.

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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.” 

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An Allan Block "Wanted" poster on a telephone pole across the street from the Toldeo Blade building Friday, May 5, 2023, in Toledo. (Andrew Goldstein/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Newsletter: We’re hiring two positions

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We’ve got two openings at The NewsGuild-CWA right now. We’d love to find Guild members for these roles. Please send folks our way!

Administrative secretary: we’re looking for someone who can assist our staff, run schedules, help keep projects on track, keep track of office finances and directly work with the Guild’s leadership. More info here.

Senior campaign lead: we’re looking for an organizer who’s excited to work with lots of members spread across the continent to help them build effective campaigns and coordinate with other members working for the same company. More info here.

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Newsletter: A scab broke a striker’s jaw in Pittsburgh

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It was 23 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday night when five Guild members joined 10 Teamsters on the picket line at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette distribution center.

We held the line in front of the center where a dwindling number of carriers collected a dwindling number of paper bundles of the scab paper to deliver them to the few remaining subscribers in Pittsburgh.

Just a week prior a strike-breaking scab truck driver broke the jaw of one of the strikers, sending him to the hospital. He’s due for surgery any day now.

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NBC News Guild "We're walking out!" graphic

NBC Digital workers are walking out tomorrow

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Tomorrow morning more than 200 journalists at NBC News, MSNBC, and TODAY are walking out! They’re halting work for one day to protest the company’s unfair labor practices. In January the company illegally laid off seven bargaining unit members and informed others that they were no longer members of the union. This of course violates federal law.

We’ve written about how a company cannot lay off workers prior to a first contract being settled. And of course NBC is familiar with this precedent because they illegally cut salaries without bargaining in 2020 (and then had to pay back workers with interest)!

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Newsletter: Letter to Pittsburgh scabs, a ULP and a new Guild union!

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Happy Thursday!

If you’re a NewsGuild member, you’ve probably gotten a text from a striker (or maybe me!) in the last few days asking you to support our striking members here in Pittsburgh. We’ve been working out of Strike HQ (generously donated by the United Steelworkers) and have been using Hustle to text people en masse. They’re real texts coming from strikers and we’ve sent about 20,000 messages to Guild and CWA members. I encourage you to engage with folks! And please give if you can. We will win this strike together.

After 100 days, the company still refuses to do two things that would end the strike: 1) pay for health insurance premiums and 2) follow federal law and bargain in good faith. That’s it! The company could end the strike and return to normal by writing one small check. I don’t understand why the Blocks and their law firm think it’s wiser to break the law and deny single mothers health insurance, but I am not an evil millionaire disconnected from regular people.

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Newsletter: Mourning a Guild mentor, celebrating a successful strike

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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,

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

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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.

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Newsletter: We are on strike everywhere!

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We are in our seventh week on strike in Pittsburgh and our members there are so brave amid truly illogical and illegal behavior by the Post-Gazette’s hired attorneys. Tuesday’s bargaining session was a joke.

Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh President Zack Tanner, left, confers with member Hallie Lauer in a caucus with the union’s bargaining committee during the third bargaining session this year with the company on Tuesday, Dec. 6, at the Omni William Penn Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. (Steve Mellon/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

At one point, a Guild member asked Richard Lowe, the King & Ballow attorney representing the Post-Gazette, if there were any changes that could be made to the guild’s health care proposal that the company would consider.

“We are staying with our proposals, and we think they’re better,” Lowe said. “To answer your question, no, there are not.”

What are their proposals? The company is sticking with the same proposals from two-and-a-half years ago before they illegally imposed on our members.

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