UMG honors Bill McClellan, top activists

Feb 7, 2018 by

Bill McClellan and previous Hughes winner Joel Currier.

Guilder of the Year Joe Holleman addresses his fellow UMG members.

Stanley Jackson accepted the Solidarity Award on behalf of our Fight for 15 unit.

Steward of the year David Blackford.

The United Media Guild honored its top activists and celebrated great journalism at its Local Meeting Feb. 6.

Longtime St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan won the UMG’s Terry Hughes Award, which is judged each year by a panel of former winners of the award.

Ms. Hughes, a columnist for the Post-Dispatch, was 36 when she died of breast cancer on July 22, 1991. Her writing was clear, witty and descriptive, with a flair for portraying society’s underdogs. The same could be said for McClellan’s work.

He sat near Hughes in the Post-Dispatch newspapers and was a great admirer of her work. If she were still alive, McClellan said, “she would have served as a mentor for our young journalists, especially the women.”

McClellan received his award from last year’s winner, Post-Dispatch reporter Joel Currier.

Columnist Joe Holleman, chair of our Post-Dispatch unit, was honored as Guilder of the Year. He has long been a strong advocate for all of our members at the Post, not just those in the newsroom.

David Blackford of the Pekin Daily Times was named Steward of the Year. There have been no shortage of issues to address at that newspaper — it is owned by GateHouse Media, after all — and he has helped us resolve many problems. Blackford noted that as a former UAW member in the auto industry, he learned the value of unionism and the need to step up for co-workers.

Rockford Register Star reporter Kristen Zambo was named Activist of the Year. Like Blackford, she works for GateHouse. Like Pekin, Rockford has had no shortage of problems to address while continuing its fight for a fair first contract. Zambo stepped as acting unit chair after the previous chair, photographer Max Gersh, moved on to a new job in Florida.

Our members of the “Fight for 15” campaign were honored with the Solidarity Award. That is a new UMG unit with members spanning the contiguous United States. The unit’s St. Louis-area steward, Stanley Jackson, took a bow for the group.

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UMG works to distinguish real news from marketing content

Jan 16, 2018 by

Protecting the craft of journalism is one of the United Media Guild’s most important tasks.

We have fought hard to prevent journalists from being assigned to write advertorial copy, particularly for the GateHouse Newspapers chain. A journalist’s job is to report real news and writing advertorial copy would undermine that work.

Recently at the Post-Dispatch the UMG has worked with management to make sure that the real news reported by journalists is clearly delineated from marketing content.

(Sponsored content also appears side-by-side with real news on the site, but it is clearly marked. We would prefer that sponsored content did not exist, but it IS a source of digital revenue).

The “Advancing STL” section on the home page is identified as  “Marketing” and its stories feature the tagline “Produced by our marketing department” over the top of the copy.

We want to thank Post-Dispatch unit chair Joe Holleman for working with management to make certain that the lines between real news and marketing content are not blurred.

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UMG to hold Local Meeting and awards ceremony Feb. 6

Jan 14, 2018 by

umglogoThe United Media Guild will hold a Local Meeting and awards ceremony starting at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 6 at Lombardo’s Restaurant at the Drury Inn Union Station.

The meeting is open to all members in good standing. Beverages will be provided (beer, wine, soft drinks, coffee) and an appetizer buffet will be served free of charge. Members can purchase cocktails on their own.

After tending to a small amount of Local business, the UMG will present its Guilder of the Year, Activist of the Year and Steward of the Year awards to individual members and its Solidarity Award to an entire unit.

The UMG also expects to honor the winner of its annual Terry Hughes Award for exemplary journalism.

Please RSVP the Guild office by leaving a message at 314-241-7046 or by e-mailing office manager Rachel Zaron at

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GateHouse offers to end eternal pay freeze

Dec 12, 2017 by

Bargaining between the NewsGuild-CWA and GateHouse Media has resulted in a global agreement for all Guild represented newspapers currently owned by GateHouse.

Those newspapers include United Media Guild units at the Peoria Journal Star, State Journal-Register, Pekin Daily Times, Rockford Register Star and Freeport Journal Standard.

The global agreement includes wage increases to wages and scales and frozen healthcare premiums for 2018 and 2019:

  • 1.00% wage increase effective September 1, 2018.
  • 1.75% wage increase effective October 1, 2019.
  • For calendar year 2018 health insurance premiums and plan design including, but not limited to benefit levels, co-payments, co-insurance, out of pocket maximums and deductibles for Guild employees shall remain at 2017 levels.  In those units where 2017 premium amounts paid by employees were based on 2016 premiums maintained under status quo terms or otherwise, like Rockford, the 2018 premium amounts paid by employees will remain at 2017 levels.
  • Health insurance premiums for calendar year 2019 shall remain at 2017 levels, but plan design including benefit levels, co-payments, co-insurance, out of pocket maximums and deductibles shall be equivalent to those offered to non-union employees in the same newspaper organization for 2019.

    Springfield journalists stand up for their craft.

  • Contractual terms or status quo terms regarding health insurance matters other than plan design shall not be impacted  and remain unchanged in 2019. These would include, but are not limited to existing premium catch-up subsidies; percentage of premium shares (employer/employee); deductible reimbursements; reimbursements; reimbursements to bargaining unit employees for co-insurance amounts; lump sum payments to employees with alternative health coverage, as well as dental, vision, EAP, life insurance and other insurance coverage. However, these matters are subject to additional bargaining.
  • The parties have also agreed to a joint process to analyze The United Furniture Workers Health Insurance Fund for Guild bargaining-unit employees at GateHouse properties. The joint process will take place between January 10 and April 15, 2018 and, if successful, will allow locals to negotiate, even mid-contract term, for UFW coverage that could allow members to share in any cost savings.

Each unit will vote on the global economic agreement, preferably before January 1, 2018. This is NOT a complete collective bargaining agreement, so members in Rockford and Springfield working without a contract would not have to pay union dues if they approve this agreement.

Individual units approving the agreement will proceed to Stage Two bargaining starting in early 2018 with a deadline of June 30, 2018.

Stage Two bargaining will be conducted in a “Table”-style bargaining process with locals with commonality grouped together. In our case, Peoria and Pekin would be together in one group and Rockford/Freeport and Springfield would be in another.

Bargaining ground rules and a structure for the “Table” bargaining are currently being crafted, but each local would have their representatives present for the bargaining sessions. We will have more information on that in January.

If any newspaper fails to reach a settlement in Stage Two bargaining by June 30, the Guild can resume most components of its corporate campaign against GateHouse.

Units that vote down this global economic proposal will forgo the scheduled raises and insurance protections and continue bargaining with GateHouse in the traditional fashion with the goal of gaining more. Those units are free to engage in internal and external mobilization within their markets as part of that process.

And after June 30, 2018, those units without new contracts could also participate in a larger corporate campaign against GateHouse.

Our goal in this process was to create a more constructive relationship with GateHouse. This could be a starting point — since some of our units have gone a decade with across-the-board raises — but there is still much work to be done.

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Nominations sought for Terry Hughes Award

Dec 6, 2017 by

Terry Hughes was 36 when she died of breast cancer on July 22, 1991.  A columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, her writing was clear, witty and descriptive, with a flair for portraying society’s underdogs.  Some of her columns chronicled the bouts with cancer that she and others faced.  One column was credited with helping persuade the Missouri Legislature to approve a bill forcing insurers to pay for mammograms.

One of the many readers who wrote to the newspaper after her death

Joel Currier, past Terry Hughes Award winner

described her work this way: “Her columns were full of real life stories that touched us all and even changed our way of thinking or even our lives.”

The United Media Guild has established a writing award in the name of Ms. Hughes.  The award is intended to honor a journalist whose writing shows the talent that she displayed.

Any journalist in the metropolitan St. Louis area who has written for a daily or weekly newspaper, a magazine or an on-line publication is eligible.

Single articles of extraordinary merit will be considered.  Preference will be given to entries of between three and ten articles that display the writer’s range of talent.

Articles must have been published in 2017.  There are no formal applications.  Anyone may submit a nomination by sending copies of articles to:

The Terry Hughes Award Committee

United Media Guild

1015 Locust St.

Suite 735

St. Louis, Mo.  63101

The deadline for applications is Friday, January 5, 2018.  The panel of judges is comprised of previous award winners. The award will be presented by the United Media Guild at its quarterly Local Meeting in late January or early February.

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Los Angeles Times journalists seek to unionize with The NewsGuild-CWA

Dec 6, 2017 by

The NewsGuild-CWA is fighting to preserve the craft of journalism and improve working conditions for journalists across North America.

Journalists at news organizations large and small have come to TNG-CWA seeking to unionize. Recently the Los Angeles Times newsroom filed for an representation election for the union with the National Labor Relations Board.

The organizing drive was a collaborative effort between TNG-CWA, CWA District 9 and various local TNG-CWA unions. Among the activists participating in the drive was United Media Guild vice president David Carson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“The Los Angeles Times is a great paper, and it will only be better with a democratic newsroom,” TNG-CWA president Bernie Lunzer said. “This is a chance to have a seat at the table.”

TNG-CWA already represents journalists at the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press and several other major metropolitan newspapers — including the Boston Globe, Providence Journal, Baltimore Sun, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, Chicago Sun-Times, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Denver Post, Minneapolis Star-Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle.

The United Media Guild, a local union in TNG-CWA, represents employees at the Post-Dispatch, Peoria Journal Star, State Journal-Register, Rockford Register Star and Pekin Daily Times as well as the St. Louis Review, St. Louis Labor Tribune and the national Truthout digital publication.

UMG also helped initiate the successful organizing drives at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and Lakeland Ledger in Florida.

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UMG retirees and alumni gather for their annual luncheon

Dec 5, 2017 by

The United Media Guild hosted about 40 retiree members at its annual Retiree/Alumni Luncheon Nov. 28 at Lombardo’s in St. Louis.

It was great to see former UMG business representative Mary Casey and former UMG office at the event, along with many of our former officers — including Tim O’Neil, Denise Fleming, Virginia Hicks Gilbert, Kevin Madden, Theresa Cobb and Ed Cirar.

Semi-retired Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan attended and reminisced with former newsroom colleagues such as Michael Sorkin, Roy Malone, Bill Smith, Barry Gilbert, Alan Fredman and Geoffrey Dubson

Retiree/alumni membership is open to all former UMG members. Contact office Rachel Zaron ( if you are interested.

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Fight For 15 Workers join UMG

Nov 29, 2017 by

The United Media Guild has proudly represented fast food organizers since the early days of the “Fight For 15” movement. Most recently we were the staff union for the (then) Mid-South Organizing Committee staffers in Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana.

“Fight For 15” is the international movement of underpaid workers taking a stand against poverty wages. The activists we’ve represented have worked the front lines of that battle.

So the UMG is pleased to announced we now represent organizers coast to coast in the consolidated national fast food campaign.

Welcome the newest members of the United Media Guild!

Recently, UMG business representative Shannon Duffy and NewsGuild-CWA organizer Melinda Fiedler met with organizers in Washington D.C. and collected signed membership cards from a vast majority of them.

Then, on Nov. 29 the UMG was deemed to have majority status during a card check procedure, which is a simple and easy way for an employer and a union to determine if a majority of workers wish to be represented by a union. The card check was performed by a trusted third party neutral, Rabbi Susan Talve, in her office at the Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis.

Welcome aboard sisters and brothers!

Soon we will start bargaining their initial collective bargaining agreement with the National Fast Food Workers Union (an affiliate of SEIU).

 This National Fast Food Workers Union (aka “Fight For 15”) unit joins Missouri Jobs With Justice and the Workers Interfaith Network of Memphis as social justice groups represented by the UMG.

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