The Washington-Baltimore News Guild (WBNG) is the legally recognized union for more than 2,600 news, information and labor-organization workers for 27 different employers, mainly in the metropolitan Washington and Baltimore areas. In this role, the employers at Guild-represented workplaces are legally obligated to bargain with the union over the compensation, benefits and working conditions of their employees.
The NewsGuild international union has more than 25,000 members; TNG is one of nine sectors in the 750,000-member Communications Workers of America.
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Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild (WBNG)?
Originally founded as a union for journalists, today the Guild bargains contracts for and protects the rights of various workers throughout the news and information industry and labor-related organizations. WBNG is the legally recognized union for more than 2,600 news, information and labor-organization workers. In this role, the employers at Guild-represented workplaces are legally obligated to bargain with the union over the compensation, benefits and working conditions of their employees.
2. Who runs the union?
Guild members are the highest authority of the local, and the members run the union. As a highly democratic organization, WBNG members determine what to bargain for in contract talks, decide how the local’s resources are used, set local union policies and goals, and can run for union leadership positions within their individual workplaces or for local-wide posts.
3. Who does WBNG represent?
WBNG represents more than 2,600 journalists, classified sales reps, Information Technologists, computer programmers, accounting personnel, circulation workers, production workers, researchers, public relations reps and other workers.
4. How was the local created?
Local 35 of the American Newspaper Guild, the Washington Newspaper Guild, (precursor to WBNG) was founded in January 1934, just six weeks after the national union held its founding convention in Washington D.C.’s Willard Hotel. The local was organized during the depths of the Great Depression to improve the economic and working conditions of Washington-area journalists, many of whom often worked more than 50 hours a week for as little as $20. Founding WBNG members fought hard to get journalists covered by then-emerging labor laws that guaranteed workers the right to organize unions and the right to overtime pay. At the time, newspaper publishers were lobbying the White House to exclude journalists from such protections, arguing – unsuccessfully – that the proposed laws threatened their First Amendment right to free speech. Since helping to guarantee journalists’ rights under federal labor laws, the Guild has worked, both locally and nationally, to protect and expand the rights of workers in its jurisdiction.
“WBNG” came into being with the 1964 merger of the Washington Newspaper Guild and the Baltimore Newspaper Guild. Local 54 traced its beginning to March 1934, when newsroom employees from four Baltimore newspapers signed American Newspaper Guild membership cards after a meeting that featured a presentation by the D.C. local.