Union members, leaders and staff celebrate on Zoom after winning a first contract.

Newsletter: Guild members are winning so many contracts! 

Subscribe to the Guild’s newsletter here.

We’ve been off the newsletter for the last couple of weeks because of the holiday, travel and some folks being off. And boy did a lot happen in two weeks since our last newsletter!

We were planning to say that WIRED workers were on strike yesterday and today, but late Monday night they inked a deal with Condé Nast for a three-year contract. They announced it on Twitter just a few minutes before midnight. More details will be out soon, but the group represents more than 55 workers at WIRED who unionized in April 2020. They went public then with 85% support and have run many collective actions increasing pressure on the company to settle.

This is how you do it. BUT—

“It shouldn’t have taken the threat of a strike for Condé leadership to finally reach a deal, but we’re so excited to have finally won this recognition and commitment from management,” said Lily Hay Newman, the WIRED Union Unit Chair. “We look forward to ratifying this contract and ensuring that WIRED is a viable, fulfilling place to work for years to come. WIRED workers have always deserved a real seat at the table and compensation that reflects the value of our work. All of our colleagues at Condé Nast deserve that.”

Remember last summer that three other Condé bargaining units were moments away from an all-out strike before winning contracts at The New Yorker, Ars Technica and Pitchfork. And in March about 500 other Condé workers launched a union campaign to win protections for workers at Vogue, GQ, Allure and Bon Appétit.

The organizing never stops—whether fighting for new workers to get recognition or building up a large contract fight. Congrats to everyone at WIRED!

Was that the Reckoning? Addressing anti-Black racism in the news industry, Part 2, is set for 8-9:30 p.m. ET on Wed, July 20. Register here.

Part 1 was a fascinating conversation. Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the 1619 Project and long-time NewsGuild member at the New York Times Magazine, addressed why it is important to address anti-Black racism specifically, why she “stopped pretending” she was aspiring to be objective, how the lack of newsroom diversity affects what we cover, who we quote, and how all that affects the way readers evaluate our integrity.

Erin B. Logan, national politics reporter for the Los Angeles Times, and Desiree Stennett, race and equity reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, discussed how their experiences galvanized them to address racism in their newsrooms.

The conversation, which was moderated by NewsGuild of New York President Susan DeCarava, was so engaging that attendees insisted that we postpone planned breakout sessions to allow the big-group discussion to continue.

In Part 2, Erin Logan will facilitate a discussion about our internal program for change and her experience – good and bad – chairing the Guild’s Black caucus at the L.A. Times. Desiree Stennett will facilitate a conversation about how and why we expose management’s dirty little secrets (like pay inequities and the lack of newsroom diversity) and build community coalitions.

Together, we’ll identify next steps to combat anti-Black racism in our industry and how we can increase Black leadership within our union.

I hope you’ll join us. Sign up here. If you registered for Part 1, you don’t need to reregister.

Members of the Southern Poverty Law Center Union reached a tentative agreement on their first contract after more than a year-and-a-half of bargaining. Highlights include:

  • Minimum salaries will increase by about $10,000
  • 45 of 246 employees will get raises of 20% or more
  • Pay will increase by 5%, 3%, 3% in November 2022, 2023 and 2024
  • Management will contribute 6% of earnings to employees’ 401(k) and match up to 4% of employees’ contributions
  • A grievance and arbitration process will include “just cause” standard for discipline
  • Professional Development, including
    • Staff attorneys will be granted time off to study for and take the bar exam
    • Tuition reimbursement will be increased to $15,000 lifetime
  • 17 paid holidays
  • 12 weeks parental leave for birth, fostering, or adoption
  • $5,000 for adoption, fostering, or surrogacy
  • Up to 10 days bereavement leave per year
  • Paid leave up to 2 weeks off to accommodate gender affirming care
  • Severance of 2 weeks per year of service, up to a maximum of 52 weeks
  • Remote and telework agreement

Congrats to our family at SPLC!

Members of The State News Guild voted unanimously to ratify their first collective bargaining agreement, in voting that concluded on Saturday.

Highlights of the agreement between workers at the South Carolina publication and McClatchy include:

  • A salary floor of $45,000 for full-time journalists
  • A 3% raise upon ratification, a 2% increase in 2023 and another 2% raise in 2024
  • A grievance procedure, including just cause protections
  • Clear standards for layoffs
  • A $25,000 “equity pool” that will help bring workers closer to pay equity goals

“While we are celebrating this accomplishment, we are not stopping here,” Guild members said in announcing the settlement. “For the next three years of the contract term, we will continue to fight for better working conditions, our communities and our readers.”

Congratulations! Now it’s time we see strong contracts in other McClatchy newsrooms in Miami and Fort Worth.

Speaking of Fort Worth, workers pointed out that many staffers are “cost burdened” and can’t afford to live in the Fort Worth area. They proposed a salary minimum of $57,500. McClatchy responded with only $45,000 and based it on nothing. Candi Bolden, a video producer in the newsroom, said she’s had to go into debt to pay off emergency expenses, taken up babysitting and even selling plasma to make ends meet.

This is beyond shameful for McClatchy. They have to pay a living wage and NOW.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune made a major misstep this week by publishing an op-ed by a far-right extremist supporter of the Proud Boys. The Sarasota Newspaper Guild, which represents the journalists at the Herald-Tribune, said they strongly disagreed with the decision of the paper, which is controlled by Gannett, to run the op-ed and failed to mention that the author was the wife of a Proud Boy leader. The Guild requested to be notified of the changes laid out in a statement by the top editor on how the publication will review op-ed submissions going forward. They further called on Gannett to support local news by hiring more local journalists at fair wages so they have enough staff to prevent hate speech like this from seeing the light of day again.

On the other side of Florida it was revealed that Jacksonville’s public utility spied and tracked a journalist’s movements and took photos at their home. Florida Power & Light hired a consulting firm to track journalist and Guild member Nate Monroe as he wrote critically about FPL’s effort to privatize Jacksonville’s city-owned electric, water and sewer utility.

This sort of behavior is unacceptable and an affront to the First Amendment principles our union fights to protect. This was an effort to suppress critical reporting by our members that revealed a multi-billion-dollar boondoggle that would’ve benefited private utilities at the expense of taxpayers and workers in Jacksonville.

This critical reporting has sparked federal indictments and an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The NewsGuild stands with the members of the Florida Times-Union Guild and calls on the appropriate authorities to investigate these actions.

This past weekend I was in Minnesota in mediation with the city of Minneapolis over their attacks on journalists after the police killings of George Floyd and Daunte Wright. We joined the ACLU of Minnesota and several freelance journalists in 2020 to sue police who targeted, arrested and attacked journalists who were clearly identifiable and doing their job covering the protests. We settled with the Minnesota State Patrol in February and journalists won $825,000 and a court-ordered injunction to make sure cops don’t interfere with journalists who are doing their jobs. About two dozen Guild members were injured or detained during the unrest after the killings.

We haven’t settled with the city yet and I anticipate we will have another settlement hearing in the coming months. Otherwise, we’ll go to trial to stand with journalists to be able to do their job without fear of attack from police.

Over the weekend we also had a little Minnesota Guild meetup with several members. It was so nice seeing folks I haven’t seen in person for more than two years!

I’ll be back in Minneapolis next month for the Pride at Work Convention August 18-20. Pride at Work brings together activists from unions to fight for LGBTQ rights in our workplaces. We’re going to be honored this year alongside AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond. Find more info and register here.

More than 2,700 letters have been sent to top Tribune Publishing and Alden Global Capital executives calling on them to stop breaking the law and give our communities the news they deserve. We need everyone to join the effort, so please take a few minutes and send a letter to the execs letting them know how you feel.

Local news is in trouble, according to the latest report by “news deserts” researcher Penny Abernathy.

And it’s deepening the crisis of our democracy. “The loss of local journalism has been accompanied by the malignant spread of misinformation and disinformation, political polarization, eroding trust in media, and a yawning digital and economic divide among citizens,” the report says.

“In communities without a credible source of local news, voter participation declines, corruption in both government and business increases, and local residents end up paying more in taxes and at checkout.”

The Local Journalism Sustainability Act offers the best legislative path forward. It would grant a tax credit of up to $25,000 to news organizations for each local journalist they employ—up to 1,500 employees—for the first year and $15,000 for years two through five. We have to support local news jobs and this legislation directly does that.

New union drip: canvas jackets are now available! The 100% cotton jackets are union made and look great and are a less pricey version of the leather jacket we launched earlier this year. You can find the new jacket, t-shirts, a coffee mug and a soft hoodie in our swag store.

Our abortion rights working group has been developing bargaining approaches to provide coverage for abortion care in collective bargaining agreements and developing sample information requests. They’re also working on a member survey and will be developing tools to help members organize their coworkers to take action on this core labor issue.

The group, which formed when the Supreme’s Court’s draft ruling was leaked to Politico in May, is open to new members, so if you want to join the fight to protect abortion as an essential healthcare right, sign up here.

The Supreme Court is taking up more challenges to our privacy and our rights, so we have to control what we can through collective action and bargaining in our workplaces.

Fighting the use of long-term temporary workers has become an urgent priority for members of the Canadian Media Guild. Temps make up 25% to 30% of total staff of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), including some who have been “temps” for 15 years!

Temporary work takes a huge toll on the workers in the temp positions. And, as CMG said, “It also lowers the floor of acceptable employment conditions for a generation of media workers, undermines the value of the work we do, hurts the profession, and continues to damage the reputation of the CBC as a progressive employer.”

Canadian Media Guild members have spent the last three years trying to work with CBC management to find ways to return many of these jobs to stable, long-term positions, but have gotten no movement from CBC.

To recognize the work of about 1,000 temporary employees at the Canadian government-owned media corporation, the CMG created an alternate long service award, which it presented late last month. “I’ve seen so many talented journalists leave the industry because they can’t get full time jobs. It’s sad,” said one recipient.

We’ve got some outstanding training sessions scheduled through the summer. Upcoming events are listed on our calendar, with new events added frequently.

Be safe, family! There’s a new subvariant of Omicron rapidly spreading and reinfecting people. Take steps to protect yourself and others.

In solidarity,

Jon Schleuss
President, NewsGuild-CWA