General Membership Meeting – Saturday, February 10

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Our Guild’s next General Membership meeting will be held on Saturday, February 10 at 10:00 a.m. in our office in DC. Members can attend in person or by phone. 

Our agenda items are important, and will govern how our local spends money. We will consider policies on the use of dues money to pay for bargaining committee meals and other items, policies on the use of our union credit card, on lost time and on reimbursement for travel expenses. 

That’s just a taste of what’s to come. Our goal as a unit is to grow and thrive, to manage our dues money with transparency and accountability and to strengthen our contracts and our professions as we do so. 

Be part of the action! 

What: WBNG Membership Meeting
When: Saturday, Feb 10, 10:00 a.m.
Where: WBNG
1225 I Street NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 

Members can also attend the meeting by conference call at: (877) 810-9415, Access Code 1629815.

President’s Notebook: Activism, new units dominate WBNG’s Nov. EC Meeting

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The executive council of the Washington-Baltimore News Guild on Tuesday, Nov. 7, voiced unanimous support for members to volunteer on a number of issues, from communications, bargaining, finance and organizing to strategic planning and civil and human rights. 

ACTION: The WBNG is planning a major informational picket, featuring the CRUSH FUNK BRASS BAND, from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm on Tuesday, Nov. 14 in front of the Washington Post, 1301 K Street NW. If possible, please attend. 
 
If you want to volunteer on any of the above committees or help turn out folks to the Nov. 14 event, please email WBNG office manager Nancy Banks at nbanks@wbng.org or me, WBNG president Robert Struckman, at rjstruckman@gmail.com

 
The well-attended meeting included about two dozen people at the downtown union office at 1225 Eye Street, Suite 300, as well as another six on the phone. 
 
The council heard from members of two recently organized units. Jocelyn Dombroski represented the Real News Network in Baltimore, which will soon begin bargaining, and Carolyn Steptoe spoke about the difficult process of bargaining a first contract at the Advancement Project in Washington. 
 
The council gave our union’s executive director Cet Parks discretionary authority to file an Unfair Labor Practice complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor if managers of the Advancement Project continue what new members at the civil rights nonprofit believe are wrongful changes to working conditions there. 
 
Federal rules don’t allow employers to make just any new rules after workers vote to form a union but before a new contract has been negotiated and ratified. For more information on ULPs, follow this link
 
The full meeting minutes of the Nov. 7 executive council of the WBNG will be posted after approval at next month’s meetings. 
 
In solidarity,
 
Bob 
 
Robert Struckman, president
Washington-Baltimore News Guild

President’s Notebook: With a contentious election behind us, union activism can unite and build our union

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With a contentious election behind us, union activism can unite and build our union.

Unity and activism are in the air at the Washington-Baltimore News Guild. We need it. Last month’s election was rough on all of us, but we’re moving forward.

Our unit at the Washington Post is in a tough fight with one of the richest men in the world, a billionaire who wants to downgrade the professional quality of one of America’s flagship newspapers by taking away job security and making a secure retirement almost impossible.

Jones Day, the high-powered law firm doing the dirty work on behalf of Jeff Bezos at the Post, is the same one Michael Bloomberg uses to push around our members at Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs. And our brothers and sisters at the Baltimore Sun have been fighting a culture of corporate greed that has left them without a cross-the-board raise in years.

Elsewhere in the local, we have already begun conversations about how to use our collective voice as union staffers and progressive workers to advocate for our professions. No other union local I can find represents as many nonprofit and union workers across the United States and around the world.
It’s time for member-led activism as we lay out our local’s short, medium and long term goals and strategize about how to get there.
 
How can we organize, protect and advance careers in media within a shifting landscape of ruthless corporate bosses? How do we improve the lives of workers in advocacy in today’s hard climate?
 
The answers aren’t easy, but we can find them by making it easy for every member to get involved, to attend meetings in person or by phone, to serve on committees or to be active any way you want. Meeting minutes will soon be available to every member, as our bylaws say they must. More on remote accessibility by video and conference calls to come.
 
I can’t think of a time when professionals in the fields of advocacy and media had more at stake. Let’s the meet the challenge head-on, united and ready to win better contracts for each other!
 
If you’re interested in serving on a committee to direct the local’s work in bargaining, organizing, human rights or another area, we need your leadership! If you’re a leader in our union, or if you have ideas/questions/thoughts or whatever, please call or email: rjstruckman@gmail.com or 202 412 1918.
 
In solidarity,
Bob
 
Robert Struckman, president
WBNG Local 32035, CWA, AFL-CIO

State of the Union, October 2017

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With the ratification of a tentative agreement at The American Prospect expected to take place shortly and the signing of a first contract at the FP Group, the Washington-Baltimore News Guild will have in place 32 collective bargaining agreements with 31 employers.

Only two of these WBNG units are working under expired contracts, with Guild-covered workers at the Washington Post seeing their contract lapse June 10. Nearly 900 editorial and commercial employees are covered by that agreement.

The initial Guild contract at In These Times/Institute for Public Affairs expired Sept. 13. The three-year agreement covers four employees; the bargaining team is Miles Kampf-Lassin (unit chair), Sarah Lazare, and Local Representative Rick Ehrmann. Bargaining is set for Nov. 2-3 in Chicago.  

Needing agreements to be officially added to the WBNG roster are five other recently organized bargaining units. Negotiations are under way over an initial contract with the Advancement Project, a Washington-based nonprofit at which a 15-member Guild shop was organized in January.

Local 32035 will begin negotiations later this fall with Raw Story Media, a progressive news organization that received voluntary recognition as a Guild shop in July. The union bargaining team for the 10-person unit of online journalists consists of David Ferguson, Elizabeth Preza, Noor Sibai, and Local Representative Paul Reilly.

The Guild also is set to begin talks with The Real News Network, a Baltimore-based progressive news organization known as TRNN at which a unit comprising 15 journalists, fundraisers, and studio and IT employees was organized in July. The Guild bargaining committee consists of Jocelyn Dombroski (unit chair), Cameron Granadino, Eze Jackson, Kayla Rivara, and Uruj Sheikh. Executive Director Cet Parks is serving as the WBNG representative at the table.

Preparing their initial Guild contract proposals are the Democratic Socialists of America and M+R Strategic Services.

Staffers at DSA’s offices in Washington and New York received voluntary recognition in July as a Guild shop consisting of five workers. The bargaining committee is unit co-chairs Ryan Mosgrove and Eileen Casterline, and WBNG rep Ehrmann.

Ehrmann also is the union staff rep at the bargaining table with M+R, the local’s newest unit, which comprises nearly 90 employees of a communications firm that specializes in work for nonprofit organizations. In addition to its office in Washington, is in New York City, Oakland (Calif.), Los Angeles, and Boston.

Three New Officers Elected to WBNG Board

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In a ballot count certified Oct. 13, Robert Struckman (AFL-CIO) was elected president, Elise Bryant (At-Large) was elected vice president, and Dave DeJesus (Washington Post) was elected secretary of the Washington-Baltimore News Guild.

NewsGuild-CWA President Bernie Lunzer swears in Robert Struckman (center) as WBNG president, and David DeJesus (right) as secretary at the local’s Executive Council meeting Oct. 17. In attendance via conference call, Elise Bryant, the newly elected vice president, also took the oath to serve as an officer for the remainder of the 2017-18 term.

The election – a re-run of balloting in January – was held following a settlement agreement between the local union and the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. The agreement resolved a complaint filed shortly after the local’s election for the three contested positions on the WBNG Executive Council.

OLMS supervised the new election: Mail-in ballots were sent out in September, while the large majority of eligible Guild members voted at 17 locations among the workplaces of WBNG shops in D.C. and its Virginia and Maryland suburbs, and in Baltimore. In-person balloting took place Oct. 11 and 12.

WBNG localwide elections are held every two years. In the January balloting, incumbent President Sheila Lindsay (American Nurses Association) was re-elected. Amy Lampkin was (AFL-CIO) was elected vice president, and Mikhail Romanov (United Food and Commercial Workers) was elected secretary.

American Postal Workers Union unit member Tim Fitzgerald, who had been serving as the local’s vice president, was unopposed for the position of WBNG Treasurer. There are five other localwide seats on the WBNG board. Nominated by the Guild membership late last year, none of these At-Large delegates had opposition.

Newly elected officers Struckman, Bryant, and DeJesus were sworn in at WBNG’s Executive Council meeting Oct. 17. They will serve out the remainder of the 2017-18 term.