WBNG's Guild Service Awards for 2014

(July 23, 2015) Washington Post stalwart Joel Achenbach and Working America unit chairman Chris Stergalas were honored as Local 32035's “Member of the Year” at Guild Service Awards ceremonies July 22, in Washington.

The Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild Service Awards also were presented in seven other categories, including Bargaining Unit of the Year. The individual honorees received $100.

In the Member of the Year (Dan de Souza Memorial Award) nomination letter for Achenbach, long-time newsroom-everyman for the Washington Post, it was noted that he “epitomizes the true nature of the award, in that he is ‘an average union member’ who committed himself fully to bargaining to help achieve a fair contract for all employees.”

A peer describing Stergalas wrote that he "skillfully guided his unit through the treacherous waters of a difficult wage reopener and also gave steady support to the organizing campaign at United Way Worldwide," a fellow bargaining unit..

The Shop Steward of the Year (Nadine Grinder Memorial Award) is David Wright of the Baltimore Sun. The award was “for upholding and administering the collective bargaining agreement, and making sure that the news operation’s commercial employees were treated fairly.” 


There were two Unit Officer of the Year awards. Freddy Kunkle and Stephen (Rocky) Richardson of the Washington Post “gave unwavering commitment as co-chairs, leading the unit through a very long and difficult contract campaign.”

Two awards also were given for 2014’s WBNG Organizer of the Year. One award went to Vladislav Kachka, of Bloomberg-BNA, for “recruiting the most members, and doing so in an open-shop workplace;” and the other to the Post’s Tim Smith, who was “a diligent workplace mobilizer and recruiter over the past year.”

The Bargaining Unit of the Year is the 35-member strong Working America shop. “With management’s final wage-reopener offer of a 1 percent pay increase for all employees, bargaining-unit members making over $50,000 voted to divert their raise and take nothing so that Guild-unit members making under $50,000 could see an increase of 2.25 percent.” As WBNG Executive Director Cet Parks wrote in a report to the local’s board, Chris Stergalas (Unit Chair) and Roland Leggett (Vice Chair) “deserve a lot of credit for the unit having made such a selfless sacrifice.”

The Herb Block Community Service award-winner is Elise Bryant, one of WBNG’s members At-Large, who was honored for her “tireless work on the Labor Heritage Foundation and for the labor community.”

The Customer Service Professional of the Year (Darlene Meyer Memorial Award) is David DeJesus, a Commission Sales Representative at the Post. DeJesus is known “for consistently being a top earner and for being a well-respected union member among advertising sales staff.”

The award for Outstanding Service to the Local (Connie Knox Memorial Award) was given to Mark Gruenberg (At-Large) “for his long-standing service to the WBNG Executive Council and for his perennial coordination of the Front Page and Guild Service awards.”

Guild Service Awards (1992-2014)
The Dan de Souza Memorial Award honors the memory of the Washington Newspaper Guild's first president, who perished in an auto accident while on a Christmas Eve mission to deliver donated toys to the children of striking newspaper workers in New Jersey in 1934, one year after the American Newspaper Guild's creation. The local's member-of-the-year award was first issued in 1954.

The Nadine Grinder Memorial Award honors the tenacious shop steward at the Washington Post. Grinder died of cancer in the mid-1960s. The award was first issued in 1967.

The Herb Block Community Service Award, established in 2002, commemorates the life and service of Herbert Block, the editorial cartoonist known to millions of newspaper readers as Herblock. In 1933, Block was a member of the very first Newspaper Guild local, in Cleveland. He died in 2001 at the age of 91, and left a $100,000 bequest to WBNG and its parent union, The Newspaper Guild.

The Customer Service Professional of the Year Award was established in 2004. It recognizes outstanding contributions by Newspaper Guild members who work on the commerical side of news operations. In honor of a long-time Washington Post activist and WBNG officer, it was renamed the Darlene Meyer Memorial Award shortly after her death in 2012. At the time, J. Darlene Meyer was serving her fifth two-year term as WBNG Vice President.

The Outstanding Service to the Local Award was established in 2012. As the Connie Knox Memorial Award, it honors the long-time Baltimore Sun Guild-unit chairperson, WBNG officer (including 12 years as president, 1989-2000), and International Chair of The Newspaper Guild. Knox died in 2011, just weeks after she retired from both her TNG post (Connie's WBNG retirement "bulletin") and from the newspaper (Sun obit).