(Aug. 31, 2010) Did you know that you’re a member of an award-winning local? Three times over? ’Tis true!
At this summer’s CWA convention, the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild picked up three awards.
One was for contributing to the Eduardo Diaz Union-to-Union Solidarity Fund. This fund helps establish links with telecommunications workers in other nations. It’s a modest sum that any CWA local has to contribute, but it was a relatively painless donation. And Diaz was a great help to the Guild in the years following the Guild’s merger into CWA.
We got another award in a more roundabout fashion. It was for contributing to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. This foundation has been CWA’s charity of choice for the past two decades.
At this year’s convention, Glaser’s son Jake, who had been infected with the HIV virus in utero, addressed the thousand-plus delegates. Even though AIDS claimed the life of his mother and his older sister, research into therapies progressed fast enough to help Jake, who is now a healthy 25-year-old. CWA members have given $7 million to the foundation over the past 20 years.
Oh, and that roundabout fashion: In June, CWA Local 2382, which represents the National Association of Social Workers, merged into the Washington-Baltimore Guild local (Local 32035, if you’re keeping score). What’s required to be eligible for the award from CWA is donations averaging at least $2 per member in the local. The social workers had about 65 people at the time it made a donation. The local’s former vice president, Evelyn Tomaszewski, accepted the award. Though the speaker at the podium mentioned my name as “local president,” I was not around since I had a dental appointment I dared not miss.
Why? Because I wanted to come back from the lunch break to be present to receive the third award: CWA’s Organizing Award. It’s given to every CWA local that organizes at least 100 new members in the previous calendar year. We got the award by virtue of bringing the washingtonpost.com workers into the Guild as part of our contract settlement at the Washington Post.
Ours was the only Newspaper Guild local to receive the Organizing Award. It’s also our second such award since the Guild merged into CWA. Eight years ago, we picked up an award for organizing 125 or so workers at Radio Free Asia. That organizing effort was the biggest in Guild since the Milwaukee Journal was organized in the early 1980s. And the Milwaukee organizing drive had been the Guild’s largest since ... the Baltimore Sun in the 1950s.
I’m relatively sure I had a big, wide grin the whole time I stood on the stage at the convention with the presidents of some two dozen other CWA locals. It was a great feeling. And, truth be told, there was plenty of room on that stage for more local presidents to stand beaming with a handsome plaque tucked under their arm!
– Mark Pattison