Friday, May 23, 2008

Bay area units coordinate bargaining efforts

In a statement released today, Newspaper Guild members from across the bay area announced plans to support and assist each other through contract talks and negotiations with management. They've released a set of specific plans to illustrate the new cooperative environment:

• At BANG-East Bay, journalists will begin a bargaining survey to determine membership's priorities during their first-ever contract talks. After we win our NLRB-supervised election June 13, we will elect leadership and convene a full membership meeting to decide how to proceed with our negotiations.

• At the Mercury News, our leadership is meeting with management to consider its request for early contract talks. We are electing a bargaining committee, conducting a bargaining survey and scheduling small group meetings with union members to make sure their interests and concerns are fully represented at the bargaining table.

• At the Monterey Herald, we are continuing our contract talks with the company and are working hard to reach a settlement that meets the needs of the newspaper, the workers and our community. We will continue to work with other newspaper workers in their organizing efforts.

• At the San Francisco Chronicle, our contract through 2010 allows us to devote our attention to helping the organizing effort at BANG-EB, and lending support to the Mercury News in its impending negotiations.

Let's all wish them luck in their efforts. Hopefully this will become a model for other newsrooms to consider. In this era of shared workforces and clustered offices, organizing bargaining units individually by newsroom is a losing strategy. Some have suggested that weakening Guild units was a consideration in the new restructuring - if that's the case, then consolidated units and coordinated efforts like this one are not only wise, but absolutely necessary.

As for the SoCal Guild members...the P-T unit is preparing for yet-another bargaining session Tuesday, May 27. There are also plans for an upcoming community campaign to share information with concerned readers and coordinate community support. At the Daily News folks are focusing their energies on mobilization and contract survey preparations.

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