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

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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

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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 Adds Two Bargaining Units

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Staff of The Real News Network and of the Democratic Socialists of America have received voluntary recognition of the Washington-Baltimore News Guild as their exclusive bargaining representative.

The union-seeking workers at the Baltimore-based progressive news organization known as TRNN comprise journalists, studio and information-technology employees, and fundraisers. The organizing effort culminated in an online petition in late July, with CEO Paul Jay signing a recognition agreement almost immediately.

The workers said in their petition that they were joining the Guild “in an effort to strengthen our work and to help The Real News fulfill its mission … [its] vital role in the international, national, and local media landscape.”

“Our goal is to bring the Real News’ vision into focus by joining a larger community of other media professionals dedicated to protecting independent media and empowering ourselves as workers.”

At the Washington office of the Democratic Socialists of America, staffers likewise see their mission as one that empowers workers.

In a statement announcing the successful organizing campaign, DSA employees explained that “unionizing is a natural extension of the principles that guide [our] work … advocating for sustainable working conditions and a workplace where all are treated with dignity and respect.”

A union that has represented Washington-area journalists for more than 80 years, CWA Local 32035 now has 36 individual shops. WBNG has 30 collective bargaining agreements in place with 29 employers and is in negotiations over initial contracts with Raw Story Media, the FP Group (ForeignPolicy.com), the Advancement Project, and The American Prospect (prospect.org).