Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Taking stock

Comments, bring on the comments! We love it when we get a conversation going here. Maybe we don't love all the comments, but we're happy you're checking in because when you leave a comment, we get a better sense of what you're thinking about and what you're looking for, right? And there's a couple we want to highlight and give you our two cents.

In response to our post "... and then there was one" a reader said, "Great, now the union can finally focus its energy on Southern California." We are really excited about the BANG-EB organizing win. We're not alone: take a look at some of these comments from journos from across the country. The MN organizers up north worked really, really hard to bring their colleagues along to the realization that they really can stand up together and exercise their right to have a say in their newsrooms and about their wages and working conditions — take back control of their future. They did it. They decided to be union. No one came in from the outside and did it for them. Another one of our readers got it: "We should try something down here. Let's have a LANG-wide guild ... and soon."

"Ok, so what's the plan?" asked another reader. Well, if you're already a guild member you already know how this works, right? But if you're not yet Guild, give us a call because we can help. You know where we work. You know how to reach us.

So think about this: can we afford to do nothing while our newsrooms are downsized out of existence by a corporate parent who requires on-going cuts to resources and staff so it can squeeze out enough cash to meet it's debt payments? Can we afford to do nothing while our papers shrink to nothingness and our readers go elsewhere for news and information we know they want and need? Do we remain silent when we know that what we really should be doing is consolidating ourselves so we can together meet the challenges inherent in the consolidated news desks and universal copy desks that are already in place and most probably, are here to stay? Dean says we're whiners, barking at the dark to "make the night go away." He believes we "remember the past as if it will suddenly re-appear and the staffing in newsrooms will suddenly begin to grow again." Let's prove him wrong.

Under his headline "BANG papers choose the union", Kevin Roderick on LAObserved wrote yesterday "The Bay Area vote to unionize Dean Singleton's newspapers could have pretty big ramifications down here in LANG land."

Let's prove him right.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm all for LANG-wide unionization. But I'm really getting tired of all this "call us, you know where we are, etc. etc." nonsense.

No! Are there any rules or regulations preventing a guild union rep from scheduling a meeting at a LANG paper to explain how the union works?

We have never been part of a union, so we need guidance, we need explanations, we need to know we are part of the family, the team, the group that wants to survive all these suicidal Singleton cuts. We want to know what you can do for us, and in turn, what we can do for you as a collective group.

You treat us like you are standing in front of us and we are purposely ignoring you. We don't even see you.

Don't come at us with the "you know where we are, call us" -- that is bullcrap. Schedule a meeting, come down to the papers. Make yourself known. Show us what you got and stop hiding behind vague discourses and online admonishing of the non-union workers.

You do your part. We will do ours.

Vicki Di Paolo said...

Please email me so we can set up a meeting - vicki@cwa9400.com

Anonymous said...

" l'm for LANG-wide unionization. But I'm really getting tired of all this "call us, you know where we are, etc. etc." nonsense. "

I totally agree there are many waiting to be asked but have no way of knowing how to join or why.

$ 500,000 was spent on the One Big Bang deal up north. I hope they are ready to spend the same. This should have been done years ago. I know that CWA thinks we ( lang ) are a small fish in a big pond.
We need to get a meeting together with reps from SGV, Pasadena, Whittier, SBSun, Inland valley, Breeze, Redlands.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

There's a very good reason why the union won't come in with guns blazing to organize: Management cannot know what the workers are up to.

Managers are required to stop unionization efforts, and have a great degree of permission from the government to do so.

First they will try summary terminations. Yes, it is illegal, but it requires the fired employees to prove the case against the company. A wrongful termination lawsuit can drag on for months, even years. The company can always settle the claim later on, but what the workers end up getting is really hush money.

Next comes mandatory anti-union lectures. All affected employees are required to attend.

Third comes harassment, both outright and passive-aggressive. Expect phone calls at odd times, vandalism to your residence and car and possibly sabotage to your copy or computer.

The CWA would very much like to unionize the LANG workforce, but the workers have to be prepared for the worst when it comes to organizing. It's natural to be afraid, but the workers should be prepared and be resolute.

It's tougher to organize a white-collar workforce. Many of them are products of the middle class, and they more likely identify with managers because their relations and associates are managers themselves. Or, a middle-class aspirant family does not want their children to struggle the way their parents did. They're more reluctant to take on a struggle than blue-collar workers.

Remember, to even get a union in the first place requires a support of the majority of the workers.

Signed,

A CWAer

Anonymous said...

CWA'er

WHAT!

I'm sorry but I think management knows what is happening. Hall had articles published about what he was going to with one big bang. Thats pretty out in the open.

Hurry Go in blazing!!!!

Before there its to late!!

Anonymous said...

CWAer

Listen its time to put down the old union handbook from the 1950's and pick-up a new one from the new millennium.

Fear will not get members on board, PLAN OF ACTION BY UNION LEADERS WILL.
When people see inaction and the union not taking grievances to their maximum levels and withering on the vine it makes it hard for potential members to join.
Scaring them into joining by saying your jobs can be terminated and that they can harass you won't work because A- Our Jobs are being terminated B- Harassment in the workplace can be enforced without a union. Just file with the labor department.
And yes Bush in in the house but now with Obama soon to be in the house you can't use that excuse.

Blue collar ? White Collar? that is a very blanketed and insulting statement. Blue Collar and White Collar workers have the same reservations !!!!
That is another excuse for union to shift the blame. To say its a socioeconomic issue is bullshit!!!!. The Blue Collar worker joins the union because the union has instilled the confidence in the worker by its past and current actions. Teamsters, ILWU, WGA, get things done. CWA is good to but TNG has some serious issues they need to deal with, like the fact that TNG is an after thought for CWA.

Have reps TNG gone over to the other papers besides LB and DN? Or its because you have no contacts? But ONE BIG BANG got it figured out.

The first comment says it all....Let the Worker know your there that you have a plan!!!! it not that hard.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #6,

I share your sentiments. I admire the fire you have, and wish that the rest of the American workforce had the same passion. I truly wish that we'd be in a world where discussions like these are moot.

At the same time, I'm on the inside looking out. I'd be doing myself, the union and laboring men and women everywhere a disservice if I wasn't honest about what is going on. This CWAer is also a journalist and stands up for the P-T workers. A good journalist, especially a union journalist, should not be scared of criticism. We must battle perceptions as well as reality.

Rest assured, the CWA has a plan in place and in motion. Forgive me for not saying it here, but would you be surprised to find out that some of the Stress-Telegram's loyal readers include Rich Archbold, Jim Janiga and a small cadre of bean counters from Woodland Hills and Denver? Not everyone who reads us agrees with us. A few may be out to get us, and its this few that can cause the most damage.

You want to know what was the key behind the success of One Big Bang? Solidarity. That's from a playbook much older than the 1950s. Was it some great strategy behind OBB's win? Hard to say, but the Bay Area movement had momentum behind it.

Northern California is the most union-dense Guild outside of the Northeast. Nearly every major paper of record up there is union, from Santa Rosa to Monterey, and to its east you have McClatchy's Bees.

Second, One Big Bang wasn't so much a victory as it was the union recapturing its flag. When Singleton acquired the remnants of Knight-Ridder, he merged the Alameda Newspaper Group with the nonunion Contra Costa Times so that MediaNews would no longer have to recognize the union. So you had a combination of the smaller Alameda staffers wanting their union back reaching out to the Timesers who were worried about their jobs and the reputation of their paper.

We're optimistic about a similar coalition formed between the Press-Telegram and the Daily Breeze. The Daily News was a case of a Guild that had for a long time been asleep, and MediaNews management actions were the stick that woke up a tiger. Every wave of workforce reductions has been the best recruiting tool at the DN.

We'd like to see some people who are in the San Gabriel or Inland Empire offices to reach out to Vicki, or find a way to get in touch with a DN or P-T staffer -- and not through Unisys messaging.

The greatest union plan of action is meaningless if no one within those papers is there to lead an organization effort. We're sure that the CWA has some support east of the 605, but it's not at the point where they are breaking down the doors of the union hall.

Which brings me to my next point about organizing blue collar workers vs. white collar. This is not the union shifting blame onto the workers. Members from every level of unions have been grappling with this issue since virtually the beginning of time.

There's no disagreement that organized labor represents a horribly low percentage of professional workers in the private sector. Not only is the percentage low, but organizing these workers has had the least success.

Unions often analyze the missteps they made in failed campaigns and try to adapt. Not enough attention has been paid to workers who ultimately vote down a union.

A firm uses the same scare tactics against a higher paid and educated worker as a lower paid and less educated worker. Wouldn't the latter be more desperate to keep a job and more credulous to believe the threats? Yet they vote in unions more often. Professional workers, meanwhile, tend to fold when the same pressure is applied.

Signed,

A CWAer

a guild member said...

To Anon June 18 9:31am who wrote: "Are there any rules or regulations preventing a guild union rep from scheduling a meeting at a LANG paper to explain how the union works?"

Yes. No employer would allow a union free access to its private property if it is not required to do so. However, a meeting can be scheduled for the interested at a coffee shop, a restaurant or perhaps one hosted in someone's home.

To Anon June 20, 10:42 am who wrote: "We need to get a meeting together with reps from SGV, Pasadena, Whittier, SBSun, Inland valley, Breeze, Redlands."

What are you waiting for? People out there had an opportunity to meet with a rep months ago. Two did. Three have a contact name, cell number and email. The offer to meet with more stands. Email vicki@cwa9400.com

To Anon 6/21 3:19 pm who wrote: "I'm sorry but I think management knows what is happening. Hall had articles published about what he was going to with one big bang. Thats pretty out in the open."

The one very big advantage NorCal had going in was a core group of 80 or so former-Guild employees who were key to getting their coworkers up to speed and on board with the idea of union. You'll need the P-T and DN Guild members with you. You know who they are. Set aside for a minute your daily inter-paper competition and ask your counterpart at one of those papers to share with you the info you seek.

To Anon June 22, 11:46 am who wrote:"Have reps TNG gone over to the other papers besides LB and DN?"

Yes. Reps have reached out at other papers and will continue to do so.

And "Or its because you have no contacts?"

We have contacts. And you can provide more, right? How easy is that?

And "But ONE BIG BANG got it figured out. The first comment says it all....Let the Worker know your there that you have a plan!!!! it not that hard."

OBB had an active INSIDE committee. The faces you see on the website are not staff reps: THEY are the workers who wanted to bring union into their workplace. Together THEY developed a plan. It WAS hard work because they were all at different locations – just like you.

But THEY did it. So can YOU.

It won't happen just by throwing up the occasional comment here challenging union reps to show up on the DB (or Whittier, Pasadena, SGVT et al) doorsteps.

You need to take the next step if you want a OneBigLANG here.

Anonymous said...

CWA'er

I hope you let your members know what the plan is. It sounds like they don't have clue what is going on.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #9,

We have several union initiatives going on. One is to reach a contract agreement at the P-T. The other is for organization outreach with the other papers. Third is public outreach, which is shared on an e-mail list with P-Ters, DNers and some of it written for public consumption by Mr. Cutler.

Signed,

A CWAer

Anonymous said...

I'll believe it when I see it.