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.

Local Updates, Bargaining and Organizing!

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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.