Newsletter: Are you going to Labor Notes?

Happy Friday!

We have a lot of news around the Guild, so let’s jump in.

Last week I attended the Washington Post RAT-ificiation party in Washington, DC and it broke my heart with joy. Outgoing co-unit chair Katie Mettler showed a video about leadership. Have you seen the shirtless dancing guy? A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous. But followers are the ones that build a movement and you have to embrace them as equals.

“We helped each other stand up and fight for what’s right,” Katie told the Post members gathered at the party. “And for the people in our way — we told them to get…” (you can probably guess what I’m leaving out).

Congrats to Katie and everyone at the Washington Post securing a historic contract over Christmas. They won raises of 2.5% and fought off a lot of management’s demands through 18 months of negotiations. They won a good contract by organizing and building up more leaders across the company. Their fight escalated to a crescendo when they went on a historic strike in early December, getting practically every dues-paying member to withhold their labor for 24 hours. That sent a clear message to management, which brings anti-media and anti-union Jones Day lawyers to the table. Post workers demanded a fair contract. And they got it, building a movement along the way.

We helped journalists attacked by police secure a $1 million settlement from the city of Minneapolis. Last week the city council approved the settlement. Earlier in January I joined the freelance journalists who launched the lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union in Minnesota three years ago. We joined to represent the dozens of Guild members: from the L.A. Times to the Minneapolis Star Tribune to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, who were attacked by police while doing their job. It follows a $825,000 settlement we helped journalists win in 2022. We’re going to put our very small portion of the settlement to good use: sponsoring 11 members to attend Labor Notes in Chicago in April.

Are you going to Labor Notes? This year’s conference will be massive, with potentially 4,000 workers joined from all backgrounds to share their minds and help build a broader labor movement that fights for democracy in our unions and in our workplaces. I am a big fan, because Labor Notes emphasizes a worker-run union effort that pulls in everyone along a path of escalating supermajority collective actions to win at the bargaining table. The conference will be near Chicago O’Hare airport from April 19-21. At the last Labor Notes conference we had almost 100 Guild folks there from across North America. I hope you’ll consider joining your union family this year! Book soon if you’re going!

Labor Notes is hosting a virtual training on beating apathy at 7 p.m. ET Tuesday, February 20. These are excellent workshops that will give you the tools you need to build a strong, striking union. We encourage you to attend, AND if you attend all three, TNG will cover your registration. Sign up for TNG to cover your registration. Deadline is TODAY.

The U.S. House has a bill to make it easier for newsrooms to be nonprofits. The Saving Local News Act, reintroduced in Congress by Representatives Mark DeSaulnier (CA-10), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), and Jamie Raskin (MD-08) would make it easier for print and online news outlets to register as 501c3s, allowing them to become nonprofit entities that can focus on producing high quality journalism for their communities rather than on maximizing profits.

My quote in their press release:

“America is losing its local newspapers and along with them, thousands of brave journalists who keep our communities safe and informed. We must fight against the loss of more local news outlets, which threatens our democracy. Supporting more nonprofit local news organizations that will put quality reporting and good jobs in journalism above profits is an important step in doing that work.”

I’m excited about this legislation and see it as part of a wider effort to fight for news jobs and sustainability in our industry amid all the corporate greed and layoffs we are seeing practically everywhere. Remember, we cannot be objective about our own demise.

Earlier this week I was on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition alongside members talking about all the strikes across the Guild. 24 so far this year. 36 last year. Journalists are striking because they are desperate to do the work of telling the stories of our communities, I told NPR. “No one is going to be here unless we stand up and fight.” The segment also included Gregory Pratt, a reporter at the Chicago Tribune who struck for one day with his colleagues earlier this year. “Other papers that have had walkouts — from the Washington Post on down — you’ve seen companies come back and negotiate in better faith,” he said.

And a couple weeks ago I talked about all the strikes with Rick Smith on his show. Rick’s also got a great short segment and podcast – a 2-minute daily Labor History podcast. Check it out here. It’s easy to think we might be the first workers facing our current challenges, but that’s usually not the case!

Also, be sure to check out the photos from the Tribune strike.

Courier & Press journalists in Evansville, Ind. won their union unanimously last week! All nine workers voted for the union even with an aggressive anti-union effort by owner Gannett

“We’ve remained firmly united since the beginning here in Evansville, and I believe the unanimous vote illustrates that,” said Sarah Loesch, a government reporter at the Courier & Press. “We’re now looking forward to getting to the bargaining table and putting in the work there.” Congrats to them and the Indianapolis NewsGuild!!!

Also, late breaking news that the folks at the Texas Tribune just won their union this morning! Management pushed them to a card check with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. 90% of the workers signed a union card and launched their campaign just last month. Congrats to them and the Media Guild of the West!!!

Our members at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation are moving closer to a deal. The final week of scheduled negotiations is next week and they held a town hall yesterday with members. CBC is the largest bargaining unit in The NewsGuild-CWA, representing more than 4,900 workers across Canada. They account for about 77% of CWA Canada’s members, who are also members of the Guild. They’re asking members to wear green (for money) on Tuesday while the committee bargains over wages. They’ve got images you can use to support them on social media here.

IGN workers launched a union campaign that went pretty viral. supermajority of workers signed union cards and launched a petition which got thousands of signers in just a couple days. The petition calls on owner Ziff Davis to voluntarily recognize the union and start bargaining. Join me in signing here.

“I’ve seen what my colleagues are capable of, whether we’re producing content around blockbuster gaming and entertainment releases, spinning up massive live shows around tentpole industry events or staying abreast of the daily hum of popular culture, and it’s a constant reminder of what’s possible when this many smart and talented people work together,” said Max Scoville, senior producer/host and 9 year veteran of the company. “I’m immensely proud of this team, and want the best for all of us. IGN is already an industry leader in entertainment media, but it’s crucial that we ensure it also continues to be a bastion for the human beings who give it a voice.”

Management really shouldn’t delay when there’s such a clear desire for the workers to unionize. IGN’s workers power their great reporting covering the video game industry, with over 479 million monthly viewers in December and the company boasts a combined 51 million followers across its various social platforms. (checks watch)

As a good union we take care of each other and one of our members at the California Labor Federation could use your help. He was severely impacted by the recent flooding there. He and his family are safe, but they lost everything. Another Guild member, Diamond Brandon, organized this GoFundMe to raise money on his behalf. Please donate if you can!

For those folks who have the weekend off, enjoy it! Continue to check in with each other and continue to take care of each other.

In solidarity,

Jon Schleuss
President, The NewsGuild-CWA