The United Media Guild (formerly St. Louis Newspaper Guild) held its annual dinner meeting Friday, January 27, 2012. Approximately 150 were on hand and, prior to conducting business, a moment of silence was held for Robert Douglas, a retiree who died one year after having his medical coverage taken away by Lee Enterprises (http://bit.ly/xJLIOR). Following the business portion of the meeting, activism and journalism awards were presented.
Steward of the Year went to Lauren Marshall for “keeping your unit solidified during a protracted and difficult bargaining process.” Marshall’s unit is the local AFL-CIO publication, the St. Louis Labor Tribune, and, following a unanimous vote to strike the employer, negotiations went right down to the wire.
The Solidarity Award went to the bargaining team at KSDK-TV for their “unparalleled selflessness during challenging negotiations.” Unit Chair Mike Daugherty, Phil Evans and Danny Spina comprised the bargaining team (along with local minister, Rev Rudy Pullido) and, while their (higher paid) classifications were unable to secure a wage increase from the Gannett-owned NBC affiliate for the one-year agreement, they did win a 10% increase for their (lower-paid) Production Assistant brothers and sisters.
Sari Gelzer, unit chair at Truthout, flew in from San Francisco to receive her Activist of the Year award. Gelzer, a recent TNG Organizing Institute graduate, received the award for the role she played in helping the Pacific Media Workers Guild organize The Bay Citizen, another online newsite.
Guilder of the Year went to Dave Haney of the Peoria Journal Star (the Peoria local merged with St. Louis in 2011, creating the United Media Guild) for “Stepping into the leadership position of a divided membership and bringing people together. And for carrying that unity forward and helping cement the merger of the United Media Guild.” After thanking everyone for the honor, Haney brought everyone up to date on the fight between the Peoria Journal Star members and that paper’s corporate owner, Gatehouse. Currently, Gatehouse has an offer on the table that would outsource two-thirds of that unit’s jobs (circulation, copy desk and pagination).
In the field of journalism, the annual Terry Hughes Award was given out. Terry Hughes was a Post-Dispatch columnist who 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. The 2011 Terry Hughes Award winner was John H. Tucker of the Riverfront Times, a non-union alternative weekly in St. Louis. This was the 20th year of the award and Tucker was presented his plaque by Doug Moore, a P-D reporter and last year’s winner.
The final award was the John MCGuire Award, named after a longtime and beloved P-D reporter. This is the second year for the award and it is given to someone “whose life’s work embodies the commitment, passion and care John brought to the craft of journalism.” That honor went to former (and longtime) local Guild president, Joe Pollack. Pollack, who worked at both the St. Louis Globe Democrat and Post-Dispatch, enjoyed a long career as a reporter, sportswriter and critic who, although now retired, still maintains a well-known blog (http://stlouiseats.typepad.com/). Pollack was given his award by last year’s inaugural honoree, Bill McClellan.
International President Bernie Lunzer and Secretary-Treasurer Carol Rothman were also on hand for the event. Lunzer congratulated the winners and spoke about the current state of affairs in our industry and the importance of organizing as journalism evolves.
Two fifty-fifty raffles were held with proceeds going to the “Five for the Fight” fund, an account managed the AFL-CIO United Way reps to help those in the labor movement who are laid off and having trouble paying their bills. The other raffle went to Robert Douglas’ family.