This is shaping up has another busy year of the United Media Guild.
The former St. Louis Newspaper Guild has become a regional operation. Our units range from Memphis to the south, Rockford, Ill., to the north. Through our Truthout unit, we have members spread across the country working in virtual newsroom.
The UMG’s executive committee is evaluating how we do things today and how we could become more effective and efficient. The goal is build a more vibrant and engaging local union. We seek to bring our members together on many levels.
Here is a quick look at what is happening at our units in 2014:
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
We are working on several issues at our biggest unit, with the treatment of our beleaguered sales people currently atop our list. Onerous changes in P-D commission sales plans caused many of our members to take a big financial hit. We have worked with company management to find more constructive commission models. We are eagerly awaiting our next contract negotiations with Lee Enterprises, which will begin next year. Lee has emerged from bankruptcy and gained new financing with more favorable terms.
ST. LOUIS REVIEW
We are preparing to negotiate our next contract at the Review. Like our other newspaper units, the Review faces big challenges while evolving into a multi-platform operation. Jurisdiction is the key issue; we want our members at this Catholic media outlet doing the work.
ST. LOUIS LABOR TRIBUNE
We will have another round of contract negotiations at the end of the year. Our continuing challenge at this pro-labor newspaper is to make sure our members have good, affordable health care.
Preparations are underway for our next contract for our members working at this progressive website. Our primary goal is to improve the health care scenario for our members working in a virtual newsroom from workplaces over the country.
We must negotiate a new contract for our unit at this Gannett television operation. Pay and health care will always be tough battlegrounds with Gannett.
PEORIA JOURNAL STAR
This GateHouse/New Media operation is working under a three-year extension that preserved the status quo for its copy desk. This was a critical gain with the parent company opening a massive design center and content farm in Austin, Texas.
PEKIN DAILY TIMES
Our initial contract at this GateHouse/New Media property in central Illinois is expiring. Negotiations are underway for a new contract. Our primary goal is to end the years-long pay freeze in Pekin and get raises for our members. The parent company came out of bankruptcy flush with cash.
We negotiating a first contract at the SJ-R, a Springfield (Ill.) property in the GateHouse/New Media chain. These folks have been working under an eternal wage freeze. (See Pekin.)
ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR AND FREEPORT JOURNAL-STANDARD
These GateHouse/New Media operations in northern Illinois are also seeking first contracts. They, too, have been working under eternal wage freezes. (See Pekin and Springfield.)
MISSOURI JOBS WITH JUSTICE
This progressive movement-building group is one of the most successful of its kind in the United States. We continue representing our members working for JwJ across the state. We also keep working with JwJ on a number of broad pro-worker initiatives.
ST. LOUIS ORGANIZING COMMITTEE
Our newest unit is a spin-off from Jobs with Justice. Our members are organizers in the fast food movement work. When they got funding for a second year of work, we realized they needed their own unit with their owned officers. They gained grievance rights to address workplace issues. If SLOC becomes a more permanent operations, we will negotiate a more extensive collective bargaining agreement for 2015 and beyond.
WORKERS INTERFAITH NETWORK
With help from our JwJ unit, the UMG is taking an active role in attempting to revitalize this Memphis-based unit. WIN needs will improve its grant writing and fundraising to continue assisting workers in the Mid-South region on issues like wage theft.