“Right to Report campaign fights for journalism and the First Amendment

Aug 16, 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.

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, as former United Media Guild president Tim O’Neil can attest. 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.

So 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.

Posted by Mike Cabanatuan on Tuesday, August 8, 2017


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 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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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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UMG award Press Club scholarship to UMSL student

Jul 20, 2017 by

As part of its ongoing efforts to promote the craft of journalism, the United Media Guild awards a $1,000 scholarship each year through the St. Louis Press Club.

Joe Kenny, Jeff Gordon,, Candice Murdock and William Greenblatt

The 2017 award went to Candice Murdock, who is majoring in media studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. It was presented at a Press Club luncheon at the International Photography Hall of Fame.

UMG vice president Joe Kenny, a reporter at the St. Louis Review, was on the judging panel for the Press Club. He presented the scholarship along with UMG president Jeff Gordon and Press Club president William Greenblatt.

Murdock has reported for the UMSL student newspaper, The Current, and worked in the multimedia production department. She is also a peer mentor for the school’s multicultural organization.

She said she enjoys “getting people’s perspectives on issues that matter to the community.”

Among the other scholarships awarded at the luncheon were two sponsored by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The $5,000 David Lipman scholarship went to University of Missouri-Columbia student Tashan Reed and the $2,500 Ronald W. Wade Scholarship went to Gabrielle Hayes, who also attends Mizzou.


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Nominations sought for TNG sector conference delegates

Jun 2, 2017 by

The United Media Guild can send up to four delegates to the The NewsGuild’s sector conference in Pittsburgh Aug. 4 and Aug. 5.  Of those delegates, one will be eligible to attend the CWA Convention immediately following the Guild’s Sector Conference.

We will accept nominations for delegates in person at the Guild office at 1015 Locust, Suite 735, St. Louis at two nominations meetings on June 15 — from noon to 1 p.m. and again from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

UMG members may also nominate fellow members for delegate by e-mail to sduffy@unitedmediaguild.org before 6 p.m. June 15.

If there are more than four nominees willing to serve as delegates to the Sector Conference or more than one to attend the CWA Convention, we will hold a mail election to determine the delegation.

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