Logo with raises fists and the words "Fair wages, Good benefits, An inclusive workplace."

Newsletter: WaPo members start bargaining, Gannett still fighting its journalists

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When members of the Washington Post Guild announced last week that they were about to go to the bargaining table, they had an impressive bit of news to share:

“We have been building to this moment for years — nearly doubling membership since the last time we bargained…”

Full stop. That is amazing work by folks at the Post Guild!

They’re at the table asking for raises for all, higher salary floors, better benefits, fair and flexible remote work, and much more.

“Our staff has produced Pulitzer Prize-winning work through a pandemic, a nationwide reckoning, a war and more, all while dedicating ourselves to carrying out the mission of The Post,” they tweeted. “It’s time for the company to make good on its promises of an equitable workplace.”

Unit Chair Katie Mettler tweeted, “Our bargaining committee and dozens of other @PostGuild members have spent months preparing our contract proposals. They are informed by deep research, creative thinking and two comprehensive studies of pay, diversity and retention at The Post.”

An incident during bargaining between the Asbury Park Press/My Central Jersey unit and Gannett showed how little management truly thinks of its journalists.

One of the sports reporters, Danny LoGiudice, had asked for a raise after getting a good review. Danny has worked for Gannett for seven years, earns $37,000 a year, and is one of APP-MCJ’s lowest paid members. His raise request would still put him about $10k below what the Department of Housing and Urban Development has determined is a living salary for his area.

When the bargaining committee brought up Danny’s pay at a bargaining session, Gannett’s attorney claimed Danny had “performance issues” that were never previously mentioned.

When Guild members asked what the performance issues were, Gannett’s attorney said, “Danny is not the greatest employee in the newsroom. Maybe if you were the greatest employee in the newsroom, you would be getting a raise. You are being paid what you are worth. If you can find something more somewhere else, go there.”

His coworkers say that anyone who knows Danny knows that’s not true. He’s considered a superb performer – the utility man that helps everyone else.

Guild members from across the country packed the next bargaining session.

Now, APP-MCJ members are asking Guild members – and the public – to show support by signing a letter to Executive Editor, Paul D’Ambrosio, letting him know that workers throughout the industry stand with Danny.

Please take a minute to add your name.

Members of the Arizona Republic Guild, who are also part of the Gannett chain, held their first lunch-out last week. After close to 1,000 days of bargaining, they were determined to show management they’re serious about achieving a first contract.

Pay equity and transparency in their newsroom are among their top concerns. In April 2021, a pay equity of 14 Gannett newsrooms revealed stark pay disparities for women and journalists of color and a workforce that is whiter than the communities they cover.

But after Guild members presented Gannett with a second pay proposal during bargaining, management’s response was a theoretical proposal without any hard numbers.

“It’s time for Gannett to realize that there is no @azcentral without us and bargain in good faith,” they said.

Logo of the Arizona Republic Guild with a sign that says, "Out to Lunch."

Members of SPLC Union ratified their first contract last week, with 99% voting yes. The agreement was reached after more than a year-and-a-half of bargaining and includes many improvements. The unit represents close to 200 staffers of the Southern Poverty Law Center at 11 offices in 5 states. They’re part of the Washington-Baltimore News Guild Local 32035.

Workers at End Citizens United Staff Union participated in a walkout in support of abortion providers and staff last Wednesday. “The Supreme Court’s ruling affects all of us, and reproductive rights are workers’ rights,” they wrote. Their action was part of a national effort to support the people who are working under very difficult circumstances to protect basic human rights.

Minnesota Guild members at the Star Tribune voted overwhelming to ratify a new 3-year contract last week. Highlights include wage increases in all three years of the contract, a signing bonus in the first year, a minimum salary for A-scale employees that will rise above $55k in 2022, and strengthened accountability on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Cook County Court Interpreters work to protect the rights of immigrants and people with limited English when they go to court. These Chicago News Guild members perform an important service and they’re seeking support as they fight for a fair contract. You can help by signing their petition.

Welcome to the FCFTWG, the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers Workers Guild, who recently won voluntary recognition of their union.

Our friends at Open News have unveiled their 2022 News Nerd Survey and would like you input!

The survey, which was initiated in 2016, grew out of conversations with community members and sought to answer questions like “Who are news nerds?” and “What changes does our field need?”

Respondents were clear: the news industry needs to become more diverse, inclusive and equitable – goals we enthusiastically support. The second survey, in 2017, sought to gather more actionable data, especially about salaries and challenges journalists face in their work.

After a few quiet years, they’ve brought the survey back to gather new data on how the field of journalism is evolving, as well as who makes up the news nerd community.

Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey and share it with your colleagues.

On behalf of the Guild, I called on the Biden administration to advance human rights and protect press freedoms around the world, including Saudi Arabia, last week.

President Biden once vowed to make Saudi Arabia a pariah and even released U.S. intelligence reports that pinned Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for ordering the killing and dismemberment of Washington Post Columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Yet on Friday before he met with Saudi leaders he sidestepped questions from reporters asking if he planned to condemn Khashoggi’s killing. After the meeting he said he did raise it, but he still needs to do more to hold the Saudi government accountable for Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder and stand with us to protect press freedom worldwide.

NewsGuild locals in Buffalo, Albany and New York City called on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer last week to include a local journalism job tax credit in the reconciliation effort currently being negotiated in the Senate.

The measure would provide up to $25,000 in a payroll tax credit for news companies that employ local journalists. The NewsGuild has supported the legislation since it was introduced last year and we helped increase the cap to cover 1,500 local journalists per company each year.

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

Part 2: Was That the Reckoning? Addressing anti-Black Racism in the News Industry – 8-9:30 pm ET, Wed, July 20
Register here. (There’s no need to re-register, if you signed up for Part 1.)

Steward Training Module 3: A Communicator and Educator – 12-2 pm ET, Sat, July 23
Register here. (You can register for these steward training sessions, even if you missed modules 1 and 2.)

Organizing Around Grievances – 6-8 pm ET, Tues, July 26
Register here.

Assembling Your Dream Team – 6-7 pm ET, Wed, July 27
Register here.

Steward Training Module 4: A Problem Solver – 12-2 pm ET, Sat, Aug 6
Register here.

Building to a Strike to Beat the Boss: How The New Yorker Union Won Their Contract – 6:30-8 pm ET, Wed, Aug 10
Register here.

Effective Meeting Facilitation – 6-7 pm ET, Wed, Aug 17
Register here.

Steward Training Module 5: A Union Representative – 12-2 pm ET, Sat, Aug 20
Register here.

Defending Our Rights – 6:30-8:30 pm ET, Thurs, Aug 25
Register here.

Beating Back Bullying Bosses – 7-0 pm ET, Thurs, Sept 8
Register here.

Steward Training Module 6: Anti-Harassment Workshop – 12-2 pm ET, Sat, Sept 10
Register here.

NewsGuild members have been making news! Here are some clips.

In solidarity,

Jon Schleuss
President, NewsGuild-CWA