Newsletter: Journalism Legislation Advances in California!

The California Senate advanced two pieces of legislation that would help shore up journalism jobs in the state. Yesterday the California Senate passed a bill that would fund $500 million in local journalism jobs a year. Senate Bill 1327 was introduced by Senator Steve Glazer and would impose a data-mining fee on Big Tech to fund the jobs, clearing a two-thirds majority needed to advance in the California legislature.

And that vote came just one day after the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee passed the California Journalism Preservation Act with a 9-2 vote. The CJPA would create a journalism usage fee from digital advertising giants like Google and Facebook to ensure news outlets can pay a fair share. Our members in California, part of Media Guild of the West and Pacific media Workers, have pushed hard to make sure the bill includes good transparency and spending requirements. The CJPA mandates 70% of new revenue be spent on journalism jobs in the state.

Media Guild of the West President Matt Pearce testified in Sacramento on Wednesday in support of the legislation alongside other labor leaders and publishers.

“Whenever one of you takes an ugly vote, AI is never going to chase you down that hallway like Ashley Zavala,” Pearce said. “That’s because there’s no such thing as local journalism without local journalists.”

Our members at the Everett Herald in Washington state struck for two days over unfair labor practice charges. They went back to work on Wednesday and convinced the company to come to the table and negotiate today.

They raised more than $13,500 in their strike fund within those two days and had politicians, including Rep. Rick Larsen, visit their picket line. It’s illegal for companies to try and lay off workers during status quo, the period of time before workers get a new contract. This was the 32nd strike so far in the Guild this year! We had 36 strikes total last year…so…umm…y’all really are not taking it lying down this year! We’ll continue to stand with our members at the Everett Herald and hold power — including our companies — to account.

This week, the National Labor Relations Board formally certified the SEIU 1199 In-House Staff Union! 1199 In-House Staff United made labor history earlier this month after the staff union voted to form a union with the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild by over 82%. Together they fought back against an aggressive union-busting campaign and secured collective bargaining rights for roughly 260 employees at America’s largest healthcare union representing over 450,000 members across the East Coast.

Now they can get started on negotiating their historic, first contract!

As Pride Month sadly comes to an end this weekend, the New York Times Tech Guild has been actively raising ideas to improve working conditions for trans NYT workers for over a year. During negotiations with NYT management, the NYT Tech Guild has passed proposals to protect trans and gender-nonconforming workers, including: Healthcare with comprehensive coverage for gender affirming care, gender neutral bathrooms on every floor of every location, and much more. Over 500 members of the guild have signed a letter demanding a contract that includes these protections.

In the face of unprecedented attacks on trans and gender-nonconforming people across the country, management has largely rejected their proposals.

Join the NYT Tech Guild in telling CEO Meredith Levien: meet the Times Tech Guild in good faith at the bargaining table so that together we can provide contractual support and protection for Trans* employees.

The Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ are getting a new boss after workers earlier this month called for the current CEO to be dropped. Melissa Bell, former publisher of Vox Media, will become the next CEO starting in September after members of both newsrooms voted 96% to express no confidence in CEO Matt Moog. “We’re optimistic that this can be a positive new chapter for Chicago Public Media,” our members said online. “Sun-Times Guild members are looking forward to meeting Melissa Bell and working with her to chart a sustainable path forward for our journalism.”

I joined Congressman Greg Casar of Texas this week on Instagram to talk about all the organizing and labor activity happening in Texas. We now represent six newsrooms in the state, from San Antonio to Fort Worth. To show my non-Gen-Z creds, this was my first time doing an Instagram Live and I was a little nervous that I could even get it to work. But, my internet and lighting worked (though it was hot in DC that day!) and we had a great conversation. Casar used to be an organizer in Austin and passed legislation when he was on the city council to make it easier for hotel workers to organize. The Congressman posted a clip online, the start of his series talking with labor leaders called The Megaphone.

The Buffalo News is hiring a metro editor, says Buffalo Guild President Jon Harris. It’s a guild position with strong pay benefits and amazing colleagues fighting for local news.

The Daily Beast unanimously ratified a new contract this week. The company wanted to do layoffs and workers fought back and negotiated voluntary buyouts and a new contract. The organization is on shaky ground and a lot of great folks left this week. But the remaining workers are still fighting to take care of the folks remaining.

“As our newsroom navigated through changes in our management, our bargaining team remained focused on negotiating the strongest possible contract,” said Luis Rendon, senior photo editor for the Daily Beast and unit chair for the union. “We are proud to have achieved this deal, which gives everyone a raise and gives our departing colleagues more in their pockets as they exit.”

NewsGuild of New York members just voted to keep in place a 1.75% dues rate for the local, which had set to expire in late September. Members voted 2-1 in favor of locking in the rate.

“This is fantastic news for the Guild. Our future is far more secure with this referendum passing, as it will enable us to continue to keep members in the fighting shape that they – and management – have come to expect,” said Juan-Carlos Rodriguez, a member at Law360 Union and second vice president of The NewsGuild of New York. “Our union is stronger than ever, and that’s good news for journalists and media workers not just in New York, but everywhere.”

Game workers at Bethesda Game Studios in Montreal filed for union certification with CWA Canada this week. Follow these workers on Twitter @OneBGS_MTL.

Texas Tribune journalists return to the bargaining table today after presenting their first contract proposal a few weeks ago. Our members there are fighting for a living wage. Follow them on Twitter.Have you sent a letter to the Southern Poverty Law Center Leadership yet? Our members there are asking for a few of your minutes to support them as they also fight layoffs at an organization with hundreds of millions in the bank. Take a moment and sign their letter

In Solidarity,

Jon Schleuss
President, The NewsGuild-CWA