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

-

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

State of the Union, October 2017

-

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.

State of the Union

-

With the announcements that staff at Raw Story Media, The Real News Network, and the Democratic Socialists of America all have received voluntary recognition of the Guild as their exclusive bargaining representative, the WBNG roster now shows 36 individual shops.   

Local 32035 is in negotiations over initial contracts with:

  • The Advancement Project, a Washington-based nonprofit at which a 15-member Guild shop was organized in January.
  • The American Prospect, a publication that appears four times a year in print and offers daily news coverage and commentary at prospect.org. The 8-member Guild bargaining unit was voluntarily recognized by management in April and began bargaining in June. 

A local union that has represented journalists for more than 80 years, WBNG has 30 collective bargaining agreements in place with 29 employers. The Washington Post unit is the only Local 32035 shop currently in negotiations over an expired contract.

An agreement covering more than 850 Guild-covered employees at the Post expired June 10.

Local Updates, Bargaining and Organizing!

-

With a contract set to expire June 10, the Washington Post Guild unit has established a bargaining committee: Freddy Kunkle (Newsroom chair), David DeJesus (Commercial chair), Pat Jacob, Sarah Mark, Stephen Richardson, Tim Smith, and Tom Jackman (alternate). The current Guild contract at the Post covers more than 850 workers. Rick Ehrmann has been the Post’s Guild representative at the bargaining table since 2002.

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network bargaining committee consists of Kari O’Donnell, Shemique Lindo, and Local Representative Paul Reilly. The RAINN unit’s initial Guild contract was signed in 2015 and expires May 31. The agreement covers about 60 employees.

At National Association of Social Workers headquarters, the nearly 30 workers covered by a Guild contract on April 10 approved a two-year extension of the agreement that was to expire June 30. NASW staff will receive an immediate 3 percent wage increase and a 2.5 percent increase July 1, 2018. WBNG has represented NASW staff since 2010.

June 30 also is the expiration date for the WBNG contract at the headquarters of CASA. The organization works to improve the quality of life in low-income Latino and immigrant communities. Most of the 60 employees under Guild jurisdiction work in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, but CASA also has offices in Falls Church and Woodbridge, Va., and in York, Penn.

In other bargaining news, TNG Local 32035 is currently in negotiations over initial contracts with the FP Group (ForeignPolicy.com), where 20 staffers were granted union recognition by management last summer, and at The Advancement Project, a Washington-based nonprofit at which a 15-member Guild shop was organized in January.

WBNG Collective Bargaining Update

-

With the staff of the Georgia AFL-CIO having recently signed a three-year agreement, the Washington-Baltimore News Guild now has 30 shops on its roster. The Peach State’s labor federation contract will expire March 30, 2020.

In other local action:

The 35-member unit at the Center for Popular Democracy, which ratified its first Guild contract the first of the year, is under the leadership of Michele Kilpatrick and Art Reyes. According to Local Representative Rick Ehrmann, the two are serving as “acting co-chairs” until unit elections are held.

To prepare for talks over a contract that expires June 30, the Guild staff (25 workers in the unit) at the headquarters of the National Association of Social Workers have elected a bargaining committee that includes Dina Kastner, Rochelle Wilder, and Helen Williams.

The Advancement Project, a 15-member shop organized in January, has begun bargaining with a team comprising Andrew Ambrogi, Danielle Davis, Carolyn Steptoe, and local rep Ehrmann.

Also working on its first Guild contract is the 20-member unit at the FP Group, which publishes Foreign Policy magazine and associated web newsletters. The shop was organized last summer as the result of a 16-to-1 vote in favor of WBNG representation. The bargaining team consists of Dan De Luce, Elias Groll, Molly O’Toole, Ben Soloway, Reid Standish, and Local Representative Paul Reilly.

Currently negotiating successor contracts that have expired but remain in effect are the 62-member unit at UFCW headquarters and the 17-member unit at Jobs with Justice.