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.

Staff at M+R Strategic Services Votes Guild

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Members of a prospective bargaining unit of nearly 90 workers at a communications firm that specializes in work for nonprofit organizations voted Sept. 20 to join the Washington-Baltimore News Guild.

A majority of the eligible employees of M+R Strategic Services had signed union-representation cards by early last summer. But when they asked the firm to voluntarily recognize the Guild, management opted to have the National Labor Relations Board conduct an election.

Workers filed their petition for an election in July. Shortly thereafter, the Guild defeated management’s effort to exclude from the election process 19 potential unit members as voters. When the balloting was finished, the results showed that nearly 60 percent of the staff favored Guild representation.

Bruce Jett, the Guild’s organizing consultant, helped the M+R staffers navigate the ins and outs of the process. “They wanted a true voice at work. They really vetted the Guild before they committed to us,” he said.

The new Guild members work long hours, Jett said, “but they love their work and love the company.” Among their concerns were health care, pay and greater transparency, he said.

The online advocacy company works on strategic visibility events and social media campaigns, primarily with labor unions and other nonprofits.

In addition to its office in Washington, M+R has offices in New York City, Oakland (Calif.), Los Angeles, and Boston.