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

Newsletter: NYT performance reviews show bias; Guild loses a good soul

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An analysis by members of the New York Times Guild published last week reveals stunning racial disparities in performance evaluations of Guild-represented employees by management at the New York Times.

The study found that being Hispanic reduced the odds of receiving a high score by about 60%, being Black cut the chances of high scores by nearly 50%, and being Asian lowered the odds of a high score by about 35%. In 2020, not a single Black employee received the highest rating, while white employees accounted for more than 90 percent of the roughly 50 people who received the top score.

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Bill McLeman

Bill McLeman, staffer who helped forge Guild merger with CWA, dies

Bill McLeman passed away on Aug. 18, 2022, after a brief, intense bout of pneumonia. 

A gentle soul with a heart of gold, Bill was never known to raise his voice, according to his widow, Bridget. He started life with few assets and created a strong family that will treasure his memory. He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, uncle and a friend, Bridget wrote on Facebook

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Guild loses a hero: Hannah Jo Rayl

Hannah Jo Rayl always believed that those who had the least deserved a little bit more. During her long and storied career as an international representative for The Newspaper Guild (now The NewsGuild) and later as executive director of the Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild, Rayl combined keen intelligence, unlimited energy and a righteous moral center to improve the lives of those she represented. 

Rayl, of Hartville, Ohio, died Jan. 27, six days after her 85th birthday. She is survived by her brother, Paul, and sisters Ruth and Joyce, as well as generations of media workers she mentored, befriended and represented. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

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Former Guild staffer Kathy Mulvey Brennan dies

NewsGuild leaders were saddened to learn of the passing of Kathy Mulvey Brennan, who died today after a brief illness. 

Kathy came to work for the Guild in 1997, after serving as a staffer at both the American Federation of Government Employees and the Office and Professional Employees International Union. She retired as the director of contract administration and previously was the office manager and Guild coordinator. She was predeceased by her husband, Bob Brennan, who was also a staffer of the Communications Workers of America. 

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