Happy New Year!
2021 was a bang-up year for NewsGuild union organizing. Journalists, staffers at nonprofits and employees of publishing houses stood up in record numbers and demanded a voice at work. In all, 2,128 new Guild members won union recognition at 42 new workplaces last year.
NewsGuild members embraced a new sense of empowerment, engaging in increasingly militant actions – up to and including strikes – when management stalled, violated labor law or refused to bargain.
Throughout 2021, we focused attention on organizing across the nation’s biggest chains – Gannett, Tribune, McClatchy, Alden and Lee Enterprises to leverage our power. We fought for better pay, overtime pay, a legit mileage rate, company cell phones, better company retirement plans and a ban on non-disclosure agreements involving workplace harassment. And we’ll be doing a lot more of that in 2022.
Our inspiration comes from each other and a new video edited by Jenna Watson of the Indianapolis NewsGuild captures the spirit of our union. We’re here for each other.
I’m facing 2022 with optimism. Yes, the pandemic is still raging on and local news continues to crumble, threatening the very existence of our democracies.
But we have more power than we know.
And we build our power by using our power.
We must stand in solidarity with each other and our communities. We must continue to be the unblinking eye watching over our democracies.
We made big legislative inroads in 2021. We fought successfully to expand the Paycheck Protection Program to save thousands of journalism jobs in the U.S. and won bipartisan support for the Local Journalism Sustainability Act to further invest in local news jobs. With legislation still pending, we’ll continue that fight in 2022 as well.
We’ll continue the fight for pay equity and for contract language that will increase diversity in the workplace.
And we’ll expand the ambitious training program that we launched in 2021.
We will fight together.
There are several upcoming training workshops this month! Check them out!
Steward Training Module 4: A Problem Solver, 6-8 p.m. ET, Jan. 12. Learn how to identify and address important workplace issues. Work through a group exercise practicing the planning, execution, and evaluation of collective actions. Register here.
Collective Action Works: Inside the Movement to Organize Media and Culture: 5-6:30 p.m. ET, Jan. 20. Labour journalist Sarah Jaffe and union members in new media and culture unions discuss what they’ve won through collective bargaining, how equity goals are reflected in their campaigns, reflect on new strategies and assess the challenges that lie ahead. Register here.
Steward Training Module 5: A Union Representative, 6-8 p.m. ET, Jan. 26. Learn the rights of a steward and how to assert them, practice the role of union representative in investigatory or disciplinary meetings, practice the basics of preparing and presenting a grievance. Register here.
And if you need a second source on our successes last year, check out the latest story on Poynter by Angela Fu, 2021 was another successful year for journalism’s unionization movement.
Illustration at top by Tamara Chevlen, honorary NewsGuild member.