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)!
Tate James, a video editor and unit chair, told the Washington Post, “Our ask is really simple: It’s follow the law and respect your employees.”
He said that folks in the newsroom have been asking: “How are we supposed to act like we are holding power to account if our employers are repeatedly violating federal labor law?”
That is exactly the question every journalist — unionized or not — should ask themselves. We have a duty to hold power to account and that includes holding our own companies to account.
I’m hopping on a flight from Pittsburgh tonight to rally with our NBC members tomorrow in New York. See y’all soon!
We got a huge boost in Pittsburgh after an administrative law judge sided with us saying the Post-Gazette is violating federal law. The bosses, of course, said they intended to appeal the decision. They’ll lose. It would be so much easier for them to follow the law and negotiate with our striking members than to delay and fight their own workers.
I’ve been witnessing first hand how the PG is destroying its reputation with self-inflicted wounds. Pittsburgh is a union town. Last Sunday the owners even had the gall to take out a full-page ad (probably because there are so few advertisers left) featuring Scabby the Rat. It was a free ad for us and an illustration of a picket line right there in the printed paper. I guess I should ask our accountants how we record the in-kind donation!
More than 1,000 of our members signed onto a letter that went to scabs crossing the picket line telling them that a union is one of the only ways to protect our jobs from stagnating wages and mass layoffs. You wrote that scabs were undermining the strike by crossing the picket line. The letter was signed by hundreds of journalists from The New York Times, the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press, New York magazine, The Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer and dozens of other newspapers, magazines and websites, as well as other current and retired NewsGuild members from across the country.
That is true solidarity and should put these journalists on notice that they are undermining their own credibility by actively hurting their striking colleagues.
We’re back in bargaining this week, but we don’t expect the company to move much. The Blocks, the Post-Gazette’s owners, employ an anti-union and anti-journalist law firm who has recommended they openly violate federal law. We’ll see this through the end and hold them to account. A few sad men with outsized egos can’t get in the way of our movement.
One of our strikers in Pittsburgh was in the audience for the State of the Union address last night. James VanLandingham, or “Hutchie” as we know him, was invited by Rep. Chris Deluzio, who was just elected last fall.
“Workers like Hutchie VanLandingham and his fellow workers are on strike from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to fight for basic dignity, respect and benefits in the workplace that every single employee deserves,” Deluzio said.
I’m so proud Hutchie was there to represent the 100+ strikers here in Pittsburgh!
Our fight is only growing, as Editor & Publisher wrote in their February edition. Not only did 21 newsrooms walk out for one or more days, 1,999 workers joined our union last year. E&P did a deep dive on our strike in Pittsburgh and our fights in Dallas and Miami.
“None of this is personal,” said Leah Waters, a Dallas Morning News reporter and union leader. “My colleagues and I have something to fight for, and that’s the preservation of local journalism, and we believe our employer also has that goal in mind.” Leah and her colleagues in Dallas are fighting for a livable minimum salary floor in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. They are fighting for just cause to secure our jobs and make sure that local journalism is celebrated in central Texas.
Tomorrow night we’re hosting a town hall for NewsGuild, Writers Guild of America East, National Writers Union and NABET members covering artificial intelligence. Come learn about the latest in the space and how it’s affecting our jobs and we’ll work collectively to figure out how to use the technology and make sure that it’s not just used by hedge funds to replace our work. Register for that here.
I really do not understand some of these companies. Just today Gannett announced that they’re partnering with Gambling.com, a sports betting company. It’s up to us to make sure that these private equity-controlled companies invest in journalism and don’t just replace our jobs or diminish our work with chat bots and online slot machines.
I always believe in our fight and the power we have together. So fight like hell and do whatever it takes!
President, The NewsGuild-CWA