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.

Foreign Policy Unit Wins First Guild Contract

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After  nearly a year of collective bargaining, the Washington-Baltimore News Guild and the  Foreign Policy magazine have reached agreement on a two-year contract. 

The unit was organized in 2016, when FP editorial workers voted 16 to 1 in favor of Guild representation.

Among the highlights of the new agreement are guaranteed raises for everyone, minimum salaries for every position, and cash overtime pay for those  in positions with minimum salaries below $46,000 a year. Guild-covered workers ineligible for cash overtime will  receive compensatory time off for work performed on weekends.

The bargaining unit’s first contract also features a “just cause” stipulation for termination and all forms of discipline. “We won’t be at-will employees anymore,” said  Unit Chair Ben Soloway in an email to Guild members at  FP. “No more arbitrary firing. Discipline will have to follow a very clear process.”

Soloway noted that the contract also provides layoff protections. “If layoffs happen, seniority will play a role, and FP will have to abide by a one-year rehire list. This also protects us from the use of layoffs to get around just cause for termination. “

The contract also outlines grievance and arbitration procedures to resolve disputes. And there will be an immediate one-time payment of $1,500 into each union member’s retirement account. 

In 2008, Foreign Policy magazine and associated web products were bought by the Washington Post Company.
When the family-owned Post was sold to amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos in August 2013, what is now known as Graham Holdings Company retained  FP. FP Guild members produce the FP magazine six times a year as well as the Foreignpolicy.com website.

State of the Union

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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.

WBNG Collective Bargaining Update

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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.  

ForeignPolicy.com Staff Votes to Affiliate With WBNG

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In action that will lead to a collective bargaining agreement for about 20 employees at the FP Group, editorial workers at Foreign Policy have voted 16 to 1 in favor of representation by the Washington Baltimore NewsGuild.

“FP will recognize the union and negotiate a labor agreement through the process of good faith collective bargaining,” a company statement said. “We believe that Guild membership will facilitate constructive, amicable, open, and honest conversations that will serve to invigorate the institution.”

Foreign Policy was founded as a quarterly academic journal in 1970. Three decades later it became the six-times-a-year print publication that it is today. In 2008, Foreign Policy magazine and associated web products were bought by the Washington Post Company. In 2012, the FP Group was formed.

When the family-owned Post was sold to amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos in August 2013, what is now known as Graham Holdings Company retained the FP Group, and the website underwent a compete redesign in late 2013. FP Group now produces five daily and two weekly newsletters.

NewsGuild organizing efforts at the FP Group begin late in 2015.