The United Media Guild is tackling a lengthy “to do” list while preparing for the new challenges 2014 will bring.
Our staff and officers are active on several fronts at once. We are:
Updating our by-laws to reflect the expansion of the former St. Louis Newspaper Guild. We now represent members all over the country. Once our Executive Committee approves the final version of the revised by-laws, we will hold a general membership meeting to vote on the new language.
Negotiating a merger with the Memphis Guild. We have been exploring this opportunity for some time. We have worked with Memphis on and off for many years. In fact, we hired business representative Shannon Duffy away from Memphis while he served a mobilizing role there. Joining forces with Memphis will allow UMG to remain strong even as the employment levels shrink at our current units. Our parent union, the Communications Workers of America, is encouraging locals to consolidate their operations. We believe Guild locals should band together to best serve their members. Our earlier merger with the Peoria local proved beneficial for both groups. If the Memphis merger negotiations lead to an agreement our Executive Committee approves, we will bring the issue to a general membership vote.
Negotiating first contracts in Springfield and Rockford/Freeport. Our new units at the State Journal-Register, Register Star and Standard-Journal have signed off on several issues with GateHouse Media. Those negotiations have remained on track even though the company went through a pre-packaged bankruptcy. But we are preparing public campaigns in Springfield, Rockford and Freeport to support our bid for fair contracts. Most of those members have gone many years without a raise while enduring massive newsroom downsizing.
Working on a groundbreaking resource-sharing program with the Chicago Guild. The CWA is supporting our proposal to use Beth Kramer, a communications specialist employed by the Chicago Guild on a temporary basis, to drive our internal/external mobilization efforts in Rockford and Freeport. She has done outstanding work in Chicago and she is eager to help our new members in northern Illinois.
Negotiating a new contract for the Pekin Daily Times. Our unit at the nearby Peoria Journal Star recently got a three-year extension that prevented the outsourcing of the copy desk, a point of contention during the previous talks. Now we are preparing to negotiate an extension for our members in Pekin.
Reorganizing our daily operation. Our local covers quite a geographical expanse. In fact, our Truthout unit operates a virtual newsroom with reporters and editors working from coast to coast. Our staffing and structure will keep evolving as we strive to become even more efficient and responsive to the needs of members in all of units.
Rethinking our social activities. Our annual dinner/membership meeting has remained popular with retirees of the Post-Dispatch unit, but it has been lightly attended by active members. So our Executive Committee voted to cancel it for 2014 and stage a variety of events instead. Some of our ideas: Post-Dispatch alumni party, a Terry Hughes Award reception for our journalists, happy hour events for our salespersons, receptions at our general membership meetings, an annual picnic for all members and other Guild-sponsored social events in St. Louis, Peoria, Springfield, Rockford/Freeport and Pekin. Members with suggestions for our 2014 social calendar should contact the Guild office.