Annual Retiree/Alumni Luncheon set for Nov. 28

Nov 7, 2017 by

The United Media Guild will hold its annual retiree/alumni members luncheon at noon, Nov. 28 at Lombardo’s Restaurant at 201 S. 20th Street in St. Louis. (The restaurant is located in the lower level of the Drury Inn Union Station.)

The luncheon is free for our retiree/alumni members. The price for guests is $15. There will be a cash bar for beer, wine and mixed drinks. There is free parking for restaurant customers in the garage behind the hotel.

Please RSVP by leaving a message at 314-241-7046 or by e-mailing business manager Rachel Zaron at rzaron@unitedmediaguild.org by Nov. 21.

If you used to work at one of the units we represent and would like to become a retiree/alumni member, please contact the UMG office. Annual retiree/alumni dues are $12.

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Workers Interfaith Network, a small UMG bargaining unit in Memphis, is working with the (CWA) United Campus Workers and they are KILLING it!

Nov 1, 2017 by

An enormous victory for United Campus Workers

 

UT Knoxville and UT Chattanooga just released public statements opting out of Governor Haslam’s plan to outsource facilities services. United Campus Workers, our small statewide union, took on a billionaire governor and a multinational corporation in a 3 year fight to save thousands of jobs … AND WE WON! The big domino has fallen so we’re anticipating more campuses to follow!!

UNITED CAMPUS WORKERS is a force to be reckoned with!

Thank YOU for your continued support for workers across Tennessee.  Workers Interfaith Network will continue to partner with UCW to help all workers throughout our state.

Check out Tennessee is not for Sale on Facebook

 

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In warning about crossing lines, Robberson does just that.

Oct 27, 2017 by

 

Our union has no problem with a newspaper columnist expressing an opinion, for that is the purpose of an editorial section. But Tod Robberson’s decision to run a recent column criticizing colleagues for their use of social media brings up several other matters — ones he either failed to consider or ones he willfully ignored:

First, is this how we now resolve potential policy issues that arise between management and workers, by running columns in the newspaper?

Since Mr. Robberson did not see fit to contact the union which represents workers he criticized, then please allow our union similar space to rebut the assertions he made, without any real evidence, that some of our behavior violated established Post-Dispatch policies.

Or should we assume that from now on, the effective, decades-old method of labor and management sitting down at a table to iron out differences has given way to management, by Robberson fiat, that alleges wrongdoing and policy violations and then flies directly into the face of the objectivity he purports to cherish by not allowing the people we represent to respond in their own defense?

Also, our union has faithfully instructed its members that while we may at times have problems with management policies and practices, we should never resort to “denigrating the product.” But how are we supposed to adhere to that policy, or why should we, when it’s clear that Mr. Robberson sees it altogether fitting to denigrate the journalists who cover, report, write, photograph and edit that product?

Mr. Robberson, by his use of the phrase “reporters and photographers” omits the non-union employees using social media and singles out Guild members in his screed.  We find this troubling and wonder just how deliberate his choice of words are.

Mr. Robberson has warned us about crossing lines by crossing lines himself, and applies a double standard in delivering his sermon about journalistic standards.

In his column, Mr. Robberson declares that he is from the “country of Journalism.” We hope that sometime in the near future, he also opts to reside in the “state of Fairness.”

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TNG-CWA calls on St. Louis police to stop arresting working journalists

Oct 5, 2017 by

The mayor and acting police commissioner of St. Louis must be held accountable for the arrest of journalists covering public protests in the city, The NewsGuild-CWA declared at a meeting of its Executive Council on Oct. 5.

“The mayor and acting police commissioner must stop the practice of arresting of journalists who are doing their job — informing the people,” said Bernie Lunzer, president of NewsGuild-CWA, the parent union of the United Media Guild.

Five journalists were arrested on Oct. 3 while covering a protest of the acquittal of police officer Jason Stockley, who shot and killed Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011. This was one of the many protests that have occurred since a judge found Stockley, a white patrolman, not guilty of the murder of Smith, who was black.

The Young Turks political reporter Jordan Chariton and his cameraman Ty Bayliss were detained overnight, as was NewsGuild member Al Neal, a reporter for People’s World. Independent journalist Jon Ziegler and freelance photographer Daniel Shular were also held along with a legal observer, Steven Hoffman. They were among the 143 persons arrested at the protest.

Several times police also threatened to arrest UMG member Robert Cohen, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer — despite the fact he remained behind police lines and away from the protest that briefly blocked Interstate 64.

Two journalists were arrested while reporting on protests on Sept. 17: UMG member Michael Faulk, a Post-Dispatch reporter, and Scott Olson, a Getty photographer.

Additionally, Post-Dispatch photographer and UMG member Christian Gooden was pepper-sprayed by police on Sept. 29 while covering protests — despite moving away from police and turning his back to them as they sprayed protesters.

Gooden was pepper-sprayed after chronicling a single protester being subdued with a taser and arrested.

“The police were aware of my presence did not react negatively as I photographed the arrestee, his arresting officers and the taser cords they pulled out of him,” Gooden reported to the UMG. “Soon thereafter, dozens of protesters convened at the police line to decry his arrest and the use of a taser. At this moment, police sprayed everyone in front of the police line in a sweeping motion.

“I stepped away until I thought they were done. When I turned back to approach the line, I saw a second spraying by police toward the protesters, who were still coming to see what was going on with the arrests. I turned away hoping to avoid a spray and calculated that my turned back would bear no threat.

“That’s when I felt a cool, wet stream of the pepper spray dousing the base of my head. As I felt the stream, it seemed as though the officer tried to maneuver the spray around my head to get to my eyes. Keeping pace with the spray, I turned my head to keep square with the stream and keep it out of my eyes.”

Gooden estimated that the spraying lasted 5 or 6 seconds.

“Mayor Lyda Krewson and acting Police Commissioner Lawrence O’Toole must put a stop to the arrest of journalists, legal observers and others without cause,” Lunzer said.

“Journalists play a special role – as do the police,” he said. “If police are to be respected, they must respect others.”

The ongoing problems in St. Louis are, sadly, not unusual. This is why NewsGuild-CWA has embarked on its multi-faceted “Right to Report” project. 

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Arrest of P-D reporter underscores need for “Right to Report” campaign

Sep 21, 2017 by

Each day reporters and photographers find it more difficult to do their job. Journalists must fight harder for access and information. They are under attack from every angle.

Vulture capitalists are buying up newspapers and stripping down news-gathering operations to maximize profits.  Government officials have become more hostile towards those gathering real news. Police arrest reporters who are trying to chronicle events unfolding in public.

Those seeking to limit or even eliminate the free press from our society work to delegitimize quality reporting. Propagandists are polluting the information superhighway with fake news.

The hostility toward journalists has spread to the local level. St. Louis police arrested United Media Guild member Mike Faulk, a reporter at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,  while he was covering public demonstrations. Faulk was swept up in a mass arrest, roughed up by police and held for 13 hours despite breaking no laws.

“St. Louis Post-Dispatch journalists and other credentialed news media provide critical information to the public,” said Post-Dispatch Editor Gilbert Bailon. “When St. Louis police arrested Mike, after he fully identified himself while covering the protests, they violated basic tenets of our democracy. Additionally, the physical abuse he suffered during the arrest is abhorrent and must be investigated. The Post-Dispatch is calling for our city leaders to immediately implement policies that will prevent journalists from being arrested without cause.”

An attorney for the Post-Dispatch demanded that charges against Faulk be dropped. In a letter to Mayor Lyda Krewson, Acting Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole, City Counselor Julian Bush and Deputy City Counselor Michael Garvin, the lawyer also demanded that the city take steps to prevent “any recurrence of arrests of journalists who are covering these important events and who are engaged in no criminal activity whatsoever.”

Earlier this year, as former UMG president Tim O’Neil  lost part of a finger when an attorney for Sunset Hills slammed a door on him while he was attempting to cover a hearing as a reporter for the Post-Dispatch.

Such incidents underscore why the UMG, the national NewsGuild and our parent union, the Communications Workers of America, are pushing back with a multi-faceted “Right to Report” campaign.

This campaign includes a push for legislation that would make it felony to assault journalists doing their job. After all, an assault on journalists is an attack on the First Amendment — one of the cornerstones of our democratic society. This effort will start in states that already have “shield laws” on the books.

National legislation will be impossible to pass in the current political environment, but we must press the issue.

The Guild will continue key joining legal fights backing freedom of information and other First Amendment issues. The Guild has assembled a rapid response team to work with its new communications coordinator to address First Amendment issues that arise. The Guild is also joining forces with the Committee to Protect Journalists and other groups dedicated to protect the freedom of the press.

 

Communications Workers of America delegates supported the “Defend the Right to Report” resolution presented the by The News Guild sector during its convention earlier this month in Pittsburgh.

The resolution declares the CWA’s support for:

  • The fight against attacks on journalists and the First Amendment.
  • National and state legislation that would make it a felony to assault journalists, including reporters, photographers and videographers.
  • The expansion of state shield laws.
  • Passage, enforcement and adherence to Freedom of Information laws at the federal, state and municipal levels.
  • Promoting alliances among groups that support journalists’ ability to perform their work unfettered.
  • Allowing journalists to cover public events, report on protests, and question officials without fear of arrest or other forms of intimidation.

The News Guild is also taking on hedge funds — like Alden Capital and Fortress Investment Group, which manages GateHouse Media properties — with national campaigns to highlight the damage they do to local newspapers and the communities they are trying to serve.

Remember: Every journalist joining the Guild joins the fight to protect our craft and save the First Amendment.

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2017 Labor Day Parade!

Sep 1, 2017 by

 

Every year the United Media Guild marches with our CWA sisters and brothers.  This year the CWA is second in line!  The line starts on Olive, at 15th St.), travels east to Tucker, turns right and goes to Market and turns right again and goes a couple hundred yards on Market.  That’s it.  It’s less than a mile.

The parade starts at 0900 but you need to get there early in order to get a CWA shirt (all the various unions hand out shirts to their members, usually it’s a common color).   Also, there will be a rally at 19th and Olive at 8:00 a.m. and everyone who is lining up is encouraged to stroll on over to check it out.  With organized labor and the middle class coming under constant attack, there are some wonderful organizations and coalitions doing good work to push back on behalf of working families and this rally promises to highlight some of that work (the rally is expected to run about 40 minutes).

As usual, once the parade is over, everyone gathers near the finish line for some refreshments.  I hope to see you all there!

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The News Guild honors Dean Olsen with national award

Aug 8, 2017 by

Dean Olsen at the State Journal-Register.

The News Guild honored Dean Olsen with the Larry Cohen Movement Building Award at its national Sector Conference Aug. 4 in Pittsburgh.

Olsen, a decorated news reporter, led our organizing drive at the State Journal-Register and served as Springfield unit chair since Day 1. He followed that internal organizing success — which resulted in a 26-4 vote to unionize — by leading a textbook external organizing effort in central Illinois.

With Olsen leading the charge, our Springfield members reached far beyond the local labor community for support in their fight against the asset-stripping GateHouse Media management. These journalists manned an information booth at the Labor Pavilion at the Illinois State fair and encouraged readers from across the region to sign support cards to be forwarded to the newspaper’s management.

The SJ-R staff also gained the support of political, business and religious leaders who agreed that Springfield deserved a first-rate newspaper — something GateHouse threatened with draconian staff cutbacks and a years-long pay freeze at the profitable publication.

Olsen and Co. staged successful public demonstrations, drew extensive media coverage and gained advertiser support. The backed their “Save the SJ-R” radio advertising campaign by making numerous speaking appearances in the community.

Those efforts finally coaxed a contract proposal from GateHouse, but it did not include raises. The Springfield unit voted down the offer and has worked under imposed conditions since while continuing its fight for a fair agreement.

Olsen assisted in our successful organizing drive at the Rockford Register Star, working with activists at that GateHouse newspaper to win another vote. At the behest of The News Guild’s national office, he made contacts at news operations across the country and triggered successful organizing drives in Lakeland and Sarasota.

Those are the first two Guild newspapers in Florida, which is notoriously hostile to labor unions.

Olsen was an obvious choice for this award, which is named after retired Communications Workers of America president Larry Cohen. (Appropriately, the first winner of the national award was Olsen’s mentor in the labor movement, UMG business representative Shannon Duffy.)

Cohen urges local unions to build bargaining power by joining the larger progressive movement and becoming part of a broader coalition. Olsen succeeded on local and national levels, rallying public support for the State Journal-Register contract push while also inspiring journalists to join the larger corporate campaign against GateHouse.

The UMG has been blessed with many remarkable leaders over the years and Olsen stands tall among them. His groundbreaking internal and external mobilizing creates vivid best practices for current and future activists to follow.

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UMG ratifies new contract at Pekin Daily Times

Jul 26, 2017 by

United Media Guild members at the Pekin Daily Times unanimously approved a new two-year collective bargaining agreement with GateHouse Media.

In face of plummeting circulation at the newspaper and ongoing employee turnover, our members favored expedited bargaining that focused on a few key issues.

In an addition to providing a signing bonus, the new contract included several important points:

  • The addition of seven new paid days off — five personal days and two floating holidays.
  • A new monthly stipend for the use of a cell phone on the job.
  • The continuation of the GateHouse company incentive bonuses, which our members have collected several times.
  • A new minimum rate established for the company’s adjustable mileage reimbursement, which rises and falls according to prevailing fuel prices. Previously their was no reimbursement floor.
  • Strengthened seniority protections. In the absence of employee evaluations, layoffs will occur in inverse order of seniority.
  • Strengthened vacation request policy. The company must now approve or reject vacation requests within 14 days. Due to concerns created by short staffing, management had put off ruling on some requests for months.

Once again the UMG’s primary objective during negotiations was keeping the Daily Times operating in Pekin in the face of GateHouse consolidations in the region.

Due to our contract in place there, the company earlier rolled the operations of neighboring weekly properties into the Daily Times, not the other way around.

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