Newsletter: Trust Journalists. Not AI.

Nebraska journalists at the Omaha World-Herald Guild are celebrating a new two-year contract with Lee Enterprises. The contract – the Guild’s third with the company – was passed unanimously and guarantees multiple wage increases, immediate raises for all union members, new protections from Artificial Intelligence, expanded bereavement definition and more. Journalists in Omaha first organized in October 2018.

Congratulations to the Omaha World-Herald Guild! When we fight, we win!

The Illinois state legislature this week approved funding for local news through its state budgeting process. The innovative approach to address growing news deserts and revive local news in the state includes $25 million in employment tax credits to newsrooms that hire local reporters and $15,000 per current reporter and $25,000 per new hire for qualifying newsrooms.

The state legislature has also passed a bill aimed at greedy corporations and private equity groups. The bill requires that any newspaper in Illinois that intends to sell itself to an out-of-state entity must give the community and its employees 120-day notice, so that the community can consider organizing an acquisition bid.  This is the first “replanting” provision enacted into law in the United States. That bill also contains language to establish a scholarship program to help support students pursuing careers in Illinois journalism through financial assistance. 

Dow Jones laid off more employees at the Wall Street Journal, that’s on top of the 45 IAPE members laid off earlier this year. This is despite the company raking in record profits. IAPE members walked out during their lunch hour to protest the cuts and make it clear to management that they’re worth more. Some IAPE members even plastered Editor-In-Chief Emma Tucker’s office with sticky notes protesting the layoffs. This came just one week after the parent company announced a $250 million licensing deal with OpenAI.

The contact between the union and company expired on April 1, 2024 after a series of negotiated extensions. The Executive Board of IAPE Local 1096 earlier this month voted to authorize a strike vote at Dow Jones & Company. The vote will be the first of its kind in the union’s 87 year history.

The Atlantic and Vox Media announced partnership deals with OpenAI this week and our family at the Atlantic wants answers. In a statement, workers said they were deeply troubled by the opaque agreement the company made with OpenAI and that they were disturbed by managements’ complete lack of transparency about what the agreement entails and how it will affect their work. “Management should immediately make the terms of the deal available to Atlantic staffers and then convene an all-hands meeting to answer our questions honestly, clearly, and without spin.”

The Ziff Davis Creators Guild, which represents the editorial staffs of Lifehacker, Mashable, and PCMag, also walked out in New York City this week. For months, leaders at Ziff Davis have responded to the bargaining committee’s demands for information and accountability with the phrase: “Just trust us.” But they’ve done little to convince the members why they should.

The company hasn’t budged on providing transparency over how AI will be implemented in the workplace, or on whether they accept the Guild’s proposal to provide raises retroactive to April 1, 2024, when the previous contract expired.

“Just trust us” responses to proposals won’t cut it. Management must trust the workers when they say they need fair pay and transparency on AI. Support their fight by sending a letter to management.

New York Times Tech Guild members this week flooded management’s email inboxes to let them know they have had enough of their firing and forcing out our members using unjust Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs) – and they had an arsenal of facts and data to back them up.

Management has increased its discipline of our members by 200% compared to 2022 and 2023 and is on track to triple the number of members put on PIPs and/or fired this year. This has disproportionately impacted members in the unit from underrepresented groups. Read the analysis here.

The Pittsburgh Union Progress – the digital strike publication produced by news workers on strike against the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for the past 19-plus months took home a number of awards this week at the Golden Quill Awards. The Golden Quill honors professional and student excellence in print, broadcast, photography, videography and digital journalism in Western Pennsylvania and nearby counties in Ohio and West Virginia. The strike publication was nominated for six awards and took home three, including in photography and lifestyle writing.

Abigail Hakas, a Chatham University senior and winner of the 2024 Press Club of Western Pennsylvania Scholarship, in her acceptance speech explained why she refused to scab for the Post-Gazette and praised the Pittsburgh Union Progress for their work. “Union solidarity forever and always, in private and in public,” she said.

Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Union Progress journalists for continuing to provide quality, award-winning journalism to their community while fighting the boss!