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.

WBNG Unit Organized at Raw Story

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Editorial staff at Raw Story Media, a Washington-based progressive online news organization, have received voluntary recognition of the Washington-Baltimore News Guild as their exclusive bargaining representative.

“The group is excited to continue the wave of organizing among journalists across the United States,” Senior Editor David Ferguson and Staff Writer Elizabeth Preza wrote in a July 19 press release, “and to work collectively to establish sustainable working standards in collaboration with management.”

Sang yul-Lee, Raw Story Media’s labor counsel, wrote to WBNG that the  organization was “pleased to convey its voluntary recognition” of the Washington-Baltimore News Guild as the exclusive bargaining representative for the organization’s 10 online journalists.

The journalists explained that unionizing is a natural extension of the principles that guide their work:

“As the writers for a progressive digital publication, we support the rights of all workers to form a union. We believe that the process of unionization is the best way that we as workers can work collaboratively with management to advocate for ourselves and for our ideals.

“Organizing a union is a way for Raw Story to practice the values of fairness and equality that it supports. We will work with management to create a contract that puts in place basic workplace protections, provides clear policies and rules regarding work responsibilities, and which fosters a productive, healthy and mutually beneficial work relationship between management and staff.”

The staffers noted that among the Raw Story successes over the years are stories putting the spotlight on “racial discrimination in the criminal justice system, the right-wing assault on reproductive rights, and the increasing number of roadblocks voters face every time they head to the polls.”

RawStory.com Staffers Choose WBNG

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Staff of the online publication RawStory.com have petitioned for voluntary recognition from management with the Washington-Baltimore News Guild.

Seeking greater workplace protections and clearer policies and guidelines around work responsibilities, seven of 10 staffers that should be eligible for a Guild bargaining unit signed a letter to management that was delivered June 19.

A progressive investigative-journalism publication founded in 2004, Raw Story has an estimated readership of 1.6 million per month. Employees want to further the organization’s progressive standing by forming a union with the Guild to make the publication and the lives of its employees even better.

These employees cover political and economic news nationally and internationally, with a focus on the stories of those disenfranchised by popular media. 

Here’s a copy of the letter delivered to management:

John, Michael and Roxanne,

As progressive writers we are thankful and proud to write authoritatively about the issues that matter to us most, while at the same time offering our readers crucial news and information. We wish for nothing more than to see Raw Story continue its successes over the years, including its role in highlighting racial discrimination in the criminal justice system, the right-wing assault on reproductive rights and the increasing number of roadblocks voters face every time they head to the polls.

As the writers for a progressive digital publication, we support the rights of all workers to form a union. We believe that the process of unionization is the best way that we as workers can work collaboratively with management to advocate for ourselves and for our ideals. Organizing a union is a way for Raw Story to practice the values of fairness and equality that it supports. We would like to work with management to create a contract that puts in place basic workplace protections, provides clear policies and rules regarding work responsibilities, and which fosters a productive, healthy and mutually beneficial work relationship between management and staff.

As demonstrated by our signatures below, a large majority of employees support this request for voluntary recognition of Washington-Baltimore News Guild, Local 32035, as our collective bargaining representative. For clarity, our bargaining unit will include all full and part time staff, including Tom Boggioni, Bob Brigham, Sarah Burris, David Edwards, David Ferguson, Travis Gettys, Elizabeth Preza, Brad Reed, Noor Al-Sibai and Brendan Skwire. This formal recognition can be accomplished by responding to this letter positively, and by offering a date for our first bargaining session.

We believe that voluntary recognition is the best option for Raw Story. Doing so would mirror the dedication on our part to working together in the most respectful and collaborative way possible.

Please respond by email to the addresses listed below, with a proposed date to open negotiations, by June 26th, 2017. Please use the read receipt in the email to acknowledge this communication.

In solidarity,

Bob Brigham
Sarah Burris
David Ferguson
Elizabeth Preza
Brad Reed
Noor Al-Sibai
Brendan Skwire