Newsletter: They didn’t take bad news lying down

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Happy Wednesday! Members of The Appeal Union certainly didn’t take the announcement that management was closing their beloved publication due to financial concerns lying down.

They swung into action, secured a generous severance package for themselves and their coworkers, and negotiated with management to allow them to relaunch The Appeal as a worker-led news outlet.

So much of our industry has faced decline over the past decade, so it’s inspiring to see workers quickly respond and take control. Right now they’re going to work without pay while they get the relaunched version up and running. They need your support.

If you can, please make a contribution to their effort. You can follow their progress on Twitter @theappealunion.

Editorial employees at Insider voted in a landslide – 241-14 – to form the Insider Union in balloting that was tallied last Monday. I joined the workers watching the vote count on Discord. At one point more than 90 consecutive “YES” ballots were read aloud. NLRB elections are weird affairs, and so exciting when you win like this!

The group is made up of 300+ digital journalists at Insider, making it one of the largest to join our ranks in years. It includes reporters, web editors, producers, video editors, social media producers, animators, photographers, designers and copy editors. They’re part of The NewsGuild of New York Local.

Congratulations to everyone at Insider for organizing so well! And congratulations for joining the fight for pay equity, more transparency and accountability, better benefits and improved working conditions!

You may also have noticed that two NewsGuild units won first contracts in June, soon after workers at three Condé Nast publications won dramatic first-contract settlements. We’re on a roll!

Members of Ziff Davis Creators Guild secured guaranteed annual raises, a cash bonus for every member, salary minimums and clear standards for pay, based on promotions and job titles. They also won “just cause” protection after joining with workers at other publications last year to fight against arbitrary terminations. The Ziff Davis group is made up of about 70 editorial workers at AskMen, PCMag, and Mashable.

Their wins were the result of a determined campaign of escalating tactics: In May, workers announced that 97% voted to authorize a strike. The vote followed a one-day walkout in April designed to pressure management on economic issues. Before that, workers had written to shareholders and company leaders, urging them to support negotiating an agreement.

They will vote on ratification soon.

Members of the Quartz Union voted unanimously yesterday to ratify their first contract. The collective bargaining agreement establishes salary minimums for various classifications of full-time assignments and guarantees yearly raises. It also establishes an hourly minimum for interns and fellows, a rate that will increase with time.

We still have about 90 first contract fights on our hands, and winning strong contracts is a priority. So many workers are building unions now, it is beyond impressive. I’m incredibly inspired by our members, who are raising the bar for media workers everywhere.

Workers at Washingtonian magazine announced on June 23 that they are forming the Washingtonian Guild.

You might remember they went on strike for one day back in May, after CEO Cathy Merrill authored an Op-Ed in the Washington Post suggesting that workers who continued to work from home after the pandemic eased would be less valuable to their employers and easier to “let go.”

They are determined to ensure that every member of the staff feels they have a voice. They plan to advocate for fair compensation and report that some staffers have salaries in the $30,000s, despite the high cost of living in the DC area. They also plan to advocate for a healthy office culture and a diverse and inclusive newsroom that reflects the community they serve. They’re joining the Washington-Baltimore News Guild Local 32035.

Workers at the online petition company in Canada and the U.S. are unionizing in a cross-border campaign, with the Canadian contingent joining CWA Canada — part of the Guild — and the U.S. group joining CWA Local 9410.

Calling themselves Solidarity@Change, the workers want to ensure their working conditions remain intact for the long term, and that they have a say in the future of the company. is a multimillion-dollar for-profit corporation with a global staff of about 200.

The employer is cooperating with the drive and voluntarily recognizing the union. Their Mission Statement says it all: “We work to give everyone around the globe a voice on our open platform through the democratization of activism — and to achieve this, every worker at Change must have a voice, too.”

Staffers at three nonprofits announced union drives last week. Workers at ACLU of Minnesota are forming the ACLU of Minnesota Staff United in an effort “to positively transform the nearly 76-year-old civil rights organization.” There is overwhelming support for the effort among the nonprofit’s legal, advocacy, organizing, communications, development and administrative staff, they said.

Workers expect management to recognize the union voluntarily, which would be consistent with the organization’s publicly stated values. They will join the Minnesota Newspaper & Communications Guild Local 37002.

Workers at Big Green, a nonprofit that establishes “learning gardens” — permanent capital improvements in schools — are forming Big Green Union. They will join the Denver Newspaper Guild Local 37074.

Employees at New Era Colorado are forming the New Era Colorado Staff Union. The workers are organizers who advance social justice by empowering young people to take the lead on issues that affect them. They also will join the Denver Local.

Yesterday, journalists in Portage County, Ohio, announced they are unionizing as the Record-Courier NewsGuild, part of Local 1 of the Guild, which also covers their unionized Gannett counterparts at the Akron Beacon Journal, Canton Repository and Massillon Independent. I’m so excited for these workers to join the fight to Save Local News!

Steve Cook

NewsGuild Region 2 Vice President Steve Cook stepped down from the Executive Council in late May, one year after his employment with the Bloomberg Industry Group ended due to a layoff.

On behalf of Guild members across the country, I salute Steve for his dedication and thoughtful leadership as a vice president of the international union. He stepped up to help our union during a challenging time and I am so grateful for his dedication.

Regional vice presidents serve on the Executive Council. In accordance with the Guild Constitution delegates from Guild locals in Region 2 must nominate members to fill the vacant position at the Guild Sector Conference on Oct. 16 in New Orleans, prior to the CWA National Convention.

The NewsGuild’s Region 2 comprises Knoxville (Local 33076), Lexington (Local 33229), Memphis (Local 33091) Puerto Rico (UPAGRA, Local 33225) Washington/Baltimore (Local 32035) and CWA Local 3108.

We’ve got some very important training opportunities scheduled for this month: Contract Campaign Training is set for 12-3 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 24. It’s for NewsGuild members who are preparing to negotiate their first contract and those who have existing contracts they would like to improve. Find out more and register here.

Steward Training is set for 12-4 p.m. on Saturday, July 31. This is a great opportunity for new and seasoned stewards, unit members and leaders to build skills, understand your rights, move your coworkers to action and fight the boss! Find out more and register here.

And finally, I want to welcome Makeba Dukes and Graham Fortier to the Guild! Both Makeba and Graham were hired into locals using a Strategic Industry Fund we developed late last year to support first contract bargaining. Makeba is working in the Chicago local to help members across the Tribune chain secure first contracts. Graham will be joining the Media Guild of the West to support members bargaining at the Southern California News Group, Arizona Republic and The Columbian in Vancouver, Wash. Welcome to you both!

Since I started my term more than a year and a half ago, we’ve added seven staffers across several locals to grow and strengthen our union.In solidarity,

Jon Schleuss
President, NewsGuild-CWA

Photo at top: Members of the Ziff Davis Creators Guild announced in May that they had voted in favor of authorizing a strike with 97% support.