It’s unanimous: Our Guild contract extension is ratified!

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It’s unanimous: Post Guild members voted 181-0 on Tuesday to approve the 8-month extension to our contract that was agreed upon by Post Guild leadership and Post management.

As a reminder, this agreement will keep the integrity of our job protections in place as we navigate the coronavirus pandemic, as well as: 
  • Grant all Guild-eligible employees across the board raises ($15/week or $0.40/hour), which will go into effect this July;
  • Formally ratify language for the increased 401(k) match and improved parental leave policy announced last year.
In this interim period, while we wait to return to the office and to the bargaining table, know that Post Guild leadership is exploring ways to keep lines of communication open with the company so we can advocate for those issues core to our mission. 

We’re also actively discussing how to keep our Guild energy alive during this WFH period. And we’re eager to hear your ideas! Please email us wapounion@gmail.com or reach out in Guild slack. 

And a reminder: Please take 10 minutes to complete the company’s Coronavirus Impact Survey by next Tuesday, May 26. Any time Post management asks us directly what we want and need from them, we should jump on the opportunity. Some things we’ve heard you ask over the last month or so that could be worth raising in the survey: 
  • Will The Post consider reimbursing employees for WFH equipment or provide everyone a stipend to purchase what we need? 
  • Will The Post offer coronavirus testing or antibody testing for all employees before we return to the office? 
  • Will The Post consider allowing parents to activate the parental leave policy during this WFH period — even if they don’t have a newborn?
Thanks,
Post Guild leadership 
Post Guild Bargaining Committee

It’s unanimous: Post Guild members voted 181-0 on Tuesday to approve the 8-month extension to our contract that was agreed upon by Post Guild leadership and Post management.

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Post Guild leadership and the bargaining committee is pleased to inform you that we have reached a tentative agreement with Post management to delay bargaining for now and extend the terms of our current contract through April 2021.

This agreement would keep the integrity of our job protections in place as we navigate the coronavirus pandemic, as well as:
Grant all Guild-eligible employees across the board raises ($15/week or $0.40/hour), which will go into effect this July;
Formally ratify language for the increased 401(k) match and improved parental leave policy announced last year.
Our current contract is set to expire in July 2020. If this spring had gone according to plan, your bargaining committee would have met the company in mid-April to begin negotiating a new agreement. Dozens of Guild members had worked hard to conduct research and draft memos about ideas for how to make our workplace more welcome, fair and equitable.

But the pandemic forced us to recalibrate, and members of the bargaining committee and Guild leadership felt the best course of action was to suggest a contract extension to the company. Under these trying circumstances, we think this is a good deal — and we are grateful to the company for working with us to accomplish this agreement quickly so we can all focus on our work, our health and our families.

Please know that this does not mean all of your hard work over the last year was for nothing. Thanks to your tirelessness and commitment to each other, The Washington Post Guild is stronger now than we’ve been in decades.

The contract research many of you helped with will remain a moral compass for us as we continue to advocate for Guild members in this interim period. Those in Guild leadership and on the bargaining committee are actively exploring ways to open lines of communication with Post management so we can continue to push for issues core to our mission, including mental health resources, evolving work-from-home protocols, job security, health and safety during the pandemic, fair pay and career growth. It’s more important than ever that we protect each other and ensure that the company is supporting all the hard work you do every day to make The Post succeed.

HERE’S WHAT COMES NEXT
All-member meetings. On Monday, May 18, we will hold two Zoom meetings to answer your questions. Join us at noon (Zoom invite here) or at 7 p.m. (Zoom invite here).
Member ratification vote. On Tuesday, May 19, dues-paying Guild members will cast their votes by emailing postguildvotes@gmail.com between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. In the subject line, please write your full name and the word “yes” or “no.”
Ultimately, the decision is yours. To ratify this tentative agreement, a majority of dues-paying Guild members who case a vote must say “yes.” If you have questions and cannot make one of the all-member meetings, you can always reach out to us via email at wapounion@gmail.com or on Guild slack.

Have a restful weekend. And as always, thank you for all you do to make The Post great.

With gratitude,
Katie Mettler, co-chair for news
David DeJesus, co-chair for commercial; and the members of the Post Guild bargaining committee and Post Guild leadership

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

Contract Talks at the Post Head Into Fifth Month

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After a series of off-the-record contract talks between Washington Post management and the Guild bargaining team failed to resolve many key issues, negotiators agreed on one thing in early September: It was time to go back to the table.  

The two-year contract – the second under Amazon CEO Jeff Bezo, who bought the newspaper in 2013 – expired June 10. As it was in the beginning, the bottom-line message is clear for 850 WBNG-represented employees: “Longevity is not an aim of Post management.” 

That’s long been the assessment of bargaining-team member and Post shop co-chair Freddy Kunkle. When on-the-record contract talks resumed Oct. 4, management proposed what the union bargaining team described as “a terrible, short-sighted, morale-destroying proposal … that would deliver real pain to many employees.”

Among other things, the Post would discard across-the-board salary increases and create a multi-tier salary system based solely on merit pay. In each previous Guild contract, baseline pay raises serve as the foundation for merit increases.  

As the Guild bulletin about the proposal points out: “There is simply no way that the bargaining committee can ask members to approve a contract that has a built-in pay freeze for many employees, one subject to the imperfect job-performance-review process.”

A second company offer is for a lump-sum payment of $600 in the first year of the contract, and a raise of $8 a week in the second year. Meanwhile, the Post is insisting not only on cutting severance pay, but demanding that employees sign a waiver of their legal rights if they want to collect that severance.

On Sept. 27, nearly 100 Guild members and their supporters picketed the newspaper headquarters on K Street. Among those walking the line was meteorologist Angela Fritz, a member of the Capital Weather Gang whose recent hurricane coverage earned her the paper’s Publisher’s Award for August. 

“It’s very simple and straightforward,” said Fritz about her WBNG membership. “The Guild is negotiating on my behalf. Everything the Guild does is to my benefit. I wouldn’t feel good not joining the people who are negotiating for me.” 

Kunkle, a reporter for the paper’s Metro desk, reminded the crowd that the Post is setting new records for readership. “All we’re asking for is a reasonable pay raise from the richest man on the planet, for an institution that’s important for democracy.”

Kunkle had drawn fire from Post management with a Sept. 1 op-ed that appeared in the Huffington Post. Headlined “Jeff Bezos Wants To Give More Money To Charity. He Should Pay His Workers First,” his article addressed specific items under negotiation and described how charitable giving practices can provide cover for a billionaire’s unfair treatment of employees.

Kunkle pointed out that Bezos froze Guild employees’ pensions in the contract signed in June 2015, and that management negotiators have been pressing  to weaken seniority provisions and reduce severance pay.

A few days after the HuffPost article appeared, Kunkle received a written warning over his “egregious violation of the Post’s ethics policy on freelancing.” The Post co-chair said he had offered the story to his employer’s publication but had been turned down. 

On Sept. 5, WBNG filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge against the Post. The ULP accuses the Post of violating Kunkle’s legally protected right to engage in “concerted activities” to further the union’s interests.

Why Post Meteorologist Angela Fritz is Walking the Line

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Last week, among the crowd at the sunbaked informational picket line outside the Washington Post at the noon hour, Angela Fritz marched and chanted for a new contract with better retirement security for Post workers. Fritz is a meteorologist, a member of the Capital Weather Gang and the recipient of the Washington Post’s Publisher’s Award for her hurricane coverage last month. She shared the honor with fellow Capital Weather Gang reporter Jason Samenow. “It’s very simple and straightforward,” said Fritz about her membership in the Washington-Baltimore News Guild. “The Guild is negotiating on my behalf. Everything the Guild does is to my benefit. I wouldn’t feel good not joining the people who are negotiating for me.”  Fritz, who has worked at the Post for three years, says she doesn’t think much about where she’ll be in 10 years, much less where and how she’ll retire. That’s one reason why the Guild has such a sharp focus on retirement benefits, which management at the Post has been attacking in recent contracts, including ongoing contract talks. She says she’s proud to work at the Post and loves how journalism provides a public service. “I feel a responsibility to our readers and our followers, to make sure they have the best information possible. So many people put in more than their fair share of work every day, and I think it translates into excellent journalism and coverage,” Fritz said. 

(www.dclabor.org/home/archives/10-2017/11  Story by Robert Struckman; photo by Chris Garlock)