Springfield unit battles on for pay raises

Nov 19, 2015 by

Our Springfield unit is pressing on for a first contract at the State Journal-Register. After years of negotiating, the GateHouse Media is still offering what amounts to a pay cut for those of our members using company health care.

Before our last bargaining session, SJ-R newsroom employees took to the street in front of their building to express their solidarity and commitment.

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Truthout ratifies contract extension

Nov 13, 2015 by

Members of the Truthout unit ratified a contract extension through Oct. 31, 2018, during a conference call Wednesday night.

Disciplinary procedures were a key issue in the negotiations. The extension introduced assigned steps — three strikes — and added a “clean slate” provision. (If there is no repeat of the disciplinary infraction for 12 months, the original infraction is voided for the purpose of progressive discipline.)

Here is a quick overview:

• Internet connection fee reimbursement increased to $60.
• Increased severance pay.
• Five additional holidays.
• Improved training language.
• Raises of 2 per year when the 6-month reserve level is met.
• Contract re-opener after in one year to discuss wages if that reserve level is not met.
• Increased medical premium reimbursements when the 6-month reserve level is met.
• A digital suggestion box for our members to share ideas.

Members also voted to reelect unit chair Mike Ludwig, a reporter at Truthout. We can’t thank Mike enough for his energetic work on behalf of a membership that is scattered across the country in a virtual newsroom.

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Retirees honored at UMG luncheon

Nov 2, 2015 by

Retirees and other alumni from the United Media Guild’s St. Louis gathered Oct. 27 for a luncheon at Lombardo’s restaurant in downtown St. Louis. This was our chance to honor the great members who came before us and helped build one of the strongest local unions in the NewsGuild.luncheon2


We were particularly glad to see former executive secretary Herb Goodrick and former office manager Jackie Simmons at the event, which was organized by business representative Mary Casey.

Herb was the local’s administrative officer for 15 years and led some hard battles for Post-Dispatch members against union-busting attorneys hired by Pulitzer Publishing. Many of the critical protections earned on Herb’s watch remain in our contract there today.

Jackie served us for seven years after her retirement from the Post-Dispatch. She was on staff during an especially hectic time for the UMG, helping us while we organized new units like the State Journal-Register and Rockford Register Star. She also assisted us while we waged a years-long legal battle against Lee Enterprises over the loss of retiree medical care.luncheonbill

Also attending were former UMG officers like former Labor Tribune reporter Kevin Madden and long-time Post-Dispatch employees Rich Hughes and Terri Cobb. All three served multiple terms on our executive committee.

Among the Post-Dispatch journalists attending the event was popular columnist Bill McClellan, who is only semi-retired. After volunteering for lay-off at the P-D, he has agreed to stay on as a weekly columnist.

He was joined by many of the Post-Dispatch reporters who retired in recent years as the company scaled back the newsroom operation.

Former P-D employees Jeri Stroud (40 years) and Beth Ford (50 years) received service pins at the luncheon.

Anybody former member of a UMG unit interested in becoming a retiree/alumni member should contact Mary Casey at our office at 314-241-7046.



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Top UMG officers return for new terms

Oct 21, 2015 by

The United Media Guild held two local meetings Wednesday for the purpose of receiving nominations for unit and local-wide officers.

The result: No contested offices and the return of each of the UMG-wide officers to their position.

Returning for new terms are:

Jeff Gordon, UMG president.
David Carson, 1st vice president.
Joe Kenny, 2nd vice president.
John Mues, treasurer.
Doug Moore, secretary.

Most of our St. Louis-area units also made nominations and there were no contested positions. The following members will serve new terms:

Joe Holleman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch unit chair
Lisa Johnston, St. Louis Review unit chair.
Lauren Marshall, Labor Tribune unit chair.
Ashli Bolden, Jobs with Justice unit chair.
Rod Wright, UNICOM unit chair.
Jeshua Schuster, Workers Interfaith Network unit chair.

We gained two new executive committee members representing our Post-Dispatch unit, Beth O’Malley and Denise Hollinshed. They join our various unit chairs and the UMG-wide officers on the committee, which meets monthly to govern the local.

Several units have yet to nominate and, if necessary, elect their unit chairs and representatives to the executive committee. We hope to wrap that up within the next few weeks.

And speaking of that, we want to take this opportunity to thank long-time KSDK unit chair Michael “Scooter” Daugherty for his many years of service to the Guild. He recently retired from the television station after long and successful run.

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Executive Committee Nominations

Oct 3, 2015 by

Wednesday, October 21, Local 36047 will have two local nomination meetings – at noon and 6:00 p.m. – in the Guild office (1015 Locust St, suite 735) for all Executive Committee positions.  The positions are three-year terms and will run from January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2018.

It is easy to place one’s name in nomination.  Simply show up and nominate someone.  If they’re not there to accept the nomination, have their signed acceptance with you.  Or, if you can’t make it over, simply call the office during the meeting (314-241-7046) and we’ll have someone do it for you (we want to make sure that everyone has a chance to participate; however, we’ll then also have to check with the nominee to confirm that he or she is interested in running).

Once nominations are closed, if there are more nominees than positions, the local will conduct an election by mail in the month of November.  Officers and delegates will be sworn in at our first meeting of the new year.

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UMG hosts retiree/alumni luncheon Oct. 27

Sep 29, 2015 by

All retirees and alumni of the United Media Guild are invited to a luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 27 at Lombardo’s Trattoria,  201 S. 20th Street in downtown St. Louis, next to Union Station.

The luncheon is free for retirees and alumni of UMG units. The charge for guests is $15. Please RSVP the UMG office at 314-241-7046 by Oct. 21 if you plan on attending.

Lombardo’s offers free parking in the Drury Inn parking garage behind the building.

This is our opportunity to thank the people who helped build the UMG into one of the strongest local unions in The NewsGuild.

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UMG campaign against GateHouse Media intensifies

Sep 13, 2015 by

The United Media Guild’s public campaign on behalf of State Journal-Register members is continuing on multiple fronts.

The UMG has been negotiating a first contract at the newspaper for three years. Many veteran journalists at the newspapers have gone eight years without a raise. In its latest offer, GateHouse Media essentially offered a pay cut — since its offer included no raises and increased health insurance costs that would far outstrip the modest signing bonuses.

So the battle continues. Once again our members manned an informational table at the Illinois State Fair. They chatted with hundreds of disgruntled readers of the State Journal-Register and other newspapers that suffered drastic cutbacks under GateHouse ownership.


Many of those visiting our tables had heard our radio advertisements that played on several Springfield stations earlier this year.

UMG business representative Shannon Duffy started meeting with major SJ-R advertisers in Springfield to explain what has happened to the newspaper under GateHouse ownership.

Earlier the National Labor Relations Board found merit in our Unfair Labor Practice charges against the State Journal-Register and GateHouse Media. Company managers (among other things) videoed our members during an informational demonstration outside of the newspaper building — which is a protected act under the law. An investigation by the NLRB verified our complaints of unlawful surveillance of employees and creating an atmosphere of surveillance in the workplace. The company accepted this finding without appeal. It will post notice of its NLRB violations in three places in the building.

On another front, officials from 10 major unions and labor organizations — including the Illinois Education Association, AFSCME Council 31, the Illinois AFL-CIO and police and firefighter unions — wrote a letter to the editors of The State Journal-Register and Illinois Times calling on GateHouse to work out a fair contract covering Guild members in the SJ-R newsroom in Springfield.

The UMG thanks these labor leaders for supporting good journalism as an essential component of a stable democracy. This show of support is bound to ripple throughout the community, and it should be a strong indication to GateHouse Media officials in New York that the general public values quality journalism in the capital city. Readers of the paper far and wide don’t want to see GateHouse siphon the lifeblood from the The State Journal-Register in the name of profit. Readers already have seen printing of the paper outsourced to Peoria and page design outsourced to Texas while a steady stream of talented staffers either left the paper or were shown the door.

Readers want to see profits generated by the SJ-R’s remaining hard-working employees spent on more than lavish bonuses for top GateHouse officials and the acquisition of more newspapers. A good first contract with newsroom employees would bring stability for workers and readers alike.

Here is that letter:

Since Abraham Lincoln’s time, Springfield residents have relied on local newspapers to provide information and insight about local and state matters.

Because Springfield is home to state office holders and their staffs, these newspapers had substantial influence on the debate of issues affecting all Illinoisans.

The State Journal-Register (SJR) is the last daily paper standing in Mr. Lincoln’s hometown and it is crucial the SJR remain viable, employing first-rate journalists and presenting high quality news and analysis.

To achieve that goal, there must be a fair settlement of the contract between Gatehouse Media, owner of the State Journal-Register, and newsroom employees represented by the United Media Guild.

For more than three years, the employees have been trying to negotiate a contract to allow the SJR to continue to publish a high quality newspaper and, over time, boost circulation to the point that reporter positions eliminated since Gatehouse bought the paper can be restored.

Many of these employees have logged decades of service to the SJR and its readers, remaining loyal despite Gatehouse’s elimination of the copy desk and other important newsroom positions.

We urge everyone who believes a great city deserves a great daily newspaper to call the publisher and insist that the SJR negotiate a fair contract with the newsroom employees.

You can reach Publisher Clarissa Williams at (217) 788-1326.

Finally, our members will once again have a strong presence at Springfield’s Labor Day Parade. Last year UMG’s Springfield unit served as Grand Marshal of the parade.

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UMG active in multiple cities at the same time (it’s a Labor Day miracle!)

Sep 3, 2015 by

Labor Day is almost here and union members are busy making plans to turn out and march in a parade or perhaps attend some sort of festive activity.  Members of the United Media Guild are no exception; come Monday, UMG members will be getting it done in seven different cities (and that doesn’t even include our Truthout and Show Me 15 brothers and sisters – they’re all over the map!).

Here in St. Louis, where our awesome Faith & Labor Coalition leads the march every year now, the parade starts at 9:00 a.m.  Also every year, we march as part of the CWA City Council, alongside all our CWA brothers and sisters.  This year, CWA is the 12th entry, so we’ll be up close to the front.  We line up at Olive and 20th Street, members can start arriving after 7:00 a.m. By the way, the first 150 individuals to show up will receive a free T-shirt, so plan to get there early!  Following the parade, hot dogs and beverages will be served.

A few clicks north, in Springfield, IL, the UMG banner will once again be hoisted by State Journal members (that bargaining unit was last years grand marshal, btw).  This year, the parade begins at 10:00 a.m. and members will gather at 8:30 a.m. in the Horace Mann parking lot between Washington and Jefferson.  Unit Chair Dean Olsen says, ” Please make sure to wear your bright yellow-green Guild shirts and good walking shoes. We will distribute literature and candy during the parade. The parade begins at 10 a.m. and will last about an hour. Afterward, we will go to a local restaurant for pizza.”

Further north in Rockford, our Register Star members will meet between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. at 7th Street and 6th Avenue. The parade starts at 10 a.m. and the route is less than a mile. You can park in the BMO bank lot.

Unit Vice-Chair Brian Leaf reports that, “After the walk we will get something to eat. Last year it was at Stockholm Inn.”

Leaf added, “We’re negotiating our first contract and we will probably need support from other area unions as we get closer to a deal. So we need to be visible.  This is a great way to let other locals know we have a bargaining unit, should we need help convincing the company that we deserve raises.  So come out and walk to support quality journalism, wave and toss candy gently to kids (a bit harder to unruly sources).”

Pekin, IL has no labor Day Parade but just across the river, in Peoria, the parade starts at 10:00 a.m.  Marchers will meet at the Peoria Fire Department, 505 NE Monroe Street at 8:30am.  The parade is from 10a to 11a and will parade feature over 100 entries of various unions.  Following the parade there’s a picnic at Riverfront Festival Park, 202 NE Water Street.

Over in Kansas City, MO there will be no Labor Day festivities (don’t ask – seriously, don’t ask) so, without any geographical constraints, our Jobs with Justice folk will be agitating and causing trouble all over town (they’re a rowdy bunch).

Meanwhile, our Workers Interfaith Network (WIN) members down in Memphis, TN (those hardworking folks who fight for social justice, particularly in the immigrant community) are putting on a Faith & Labor Picnic.  It runs from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church, 1738 Galloway, in Midtown.  There’s music, food, and games – bring the spousal unit and the kids – it’s fun for the whole family!

So Happy Labor Day everyone!  Hope you have a great weekend and maybe we’ll see you Monday!



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