Jobs with Justice unit ratifies new contract

Feb 2, 2015 by Jeff

 

Our Missouri Jobs with Justice unit negotiated a new three-year contract featuring pay increases in each year of the agreement.

The contract raises the minimum pay for a JwJ organizer by $2,000. The first year of the contract featured pay increases ranging from $1,000 to $4,000, depending on the position.

The second year of the agreement features 3 percent raises for employees. In the third year employees will get 2 percent increases.

The contract also raised the meals per diem for work-related travel by $10 per day. The contract was ratified with a unanimous vote.

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UMG honors activists, journalists for outstanding work

Jan 31, 2015 by Jeff

The United Media Guild honored key activists and outstanding journalists during an awards ceremony Jan. 29 in St. Louis.

The presentations came during the UMG’s quarterly Local Meeting. Here were the award winners:

TERRY HUGHES AWARD: St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Jesse Bogan won the award named for Hughes, a Post-Dispatch columnist who died of breast cancer in 1991 at age 36. Her columns championed the underdog and gave voice to the trials of everyday people. The judges noted that Bogan’s stories consistently give voice to the disenfranchised, and that he regularly connects readers with people who otherwise might go ignored, such as military veterans and the homeless. He told the story of suburban poverty through LaTonya Williams, an 18-year-old in Valley Park who lives in subsidized housing that is disconnected from public transportation. Bogan put faces on the folks who live within the Normandy School District, telling their stories of trying to get by in an area that’s short on investment and opportunity. He told the story of a culinary class that gives female convicts a second chance, and a north St. Louis lounge that wants to stick with jazz, blues and an older crowd. No one under 35 is allowed. Judges also noted that Bogan’s work immediately following the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson was exceptional. He co-wrote a story that put the event in the historical context of the Canfield Green apartment complex.

JOHN MCGUIRE AWARD: The UMG honored Post-Dispatch sports columnist Bryan Burwell, who died Dec. 4 at the age of 59, for outstanding lifetime journalism achievement. This award is named for McGuire, a long-time Post-Dispatch who relished the opportunity to interview people from all walks of life and tell their story. Burwell shared McGuire’s love of the business and his passion for reporting and storytelling. Before coming to the Post-Dispatch, Burwell worked for the New York Daily News, New York Newsday, the Detroit News and USA Today. His television work included stints with HBO and Turner Sports, plus regular appearances on ESPN. That TV experience made him the natural point man to expand video commentary on STLToday, the Post-Dispatch website. He hosted several local radio shows as well, most recently at CBS Sports Radio 920. Bryan’s wife Dawn accepted the award from Post-Dispatch columnist Aisha Sultan, who delivered a moving tribute to her late co-worker.

GUILDER OF THE YEAR: Pekin Daily Times reporter Sharon Harris won the UMG’s top award for activism. As the long-time unit chair at her newspaper, she led the three-year battle for a first contract with GateHouse Media. She helped negotiate that deal while also coordinating one of the most effective public campaigns the UMG has ever staged. Later she advised our Peoria unit on its successful public campaign, assisted in our organizing efforts in Springfield and helped bargain a tentative agreement on a new contract in Pekin.

ACTIVIST OF THE YEAR: Peoria Journal Star columnist Phil Luciano was honored for his stellar leadership as the unit chair at his newspaper. His unit’s earlier public campaign helped secure a peaceful contract extension with GateHouse that kept the newspaper’s copy desk from being outsourced. Phil took an active role in our organizing efforts in Springfield and Rockford, speaking with reporters in those cities about the value of Guild representation. He assisted Pekin’s efforts to get a new contract and regularly shared his insights with Guild leaders at GateHouse newspaper across the country during conference calls.

SOLIDARITY AWARD: This was given to the Post-Dispatch unit, where reporters rallied behind salespersons being subjected to punitive and counter-productive changes in their sales plans. Post-Dispatch columnist Joe Holleman, our unit chair at the newspaper, helped rally the newsroom support. That effort helped convince the newspaper to undo those onerous changes and repay salespersons for much of their lost income. Holleman accepted the award on behalf of the entire P-D unit.

STEWARD OF THE YEAR: Truthout environmental reporter Mike Ludwig earned the award for assisting our negotiations for a new contract at this digital news operation. Truthout reporters work from coast to coast in a virtual newsroom, so bringing the group together to discuss workplace issues and contract needs is challenging. Ludwig, who is based in New Orleans, has done an outstanding job coordinating that effort. As a result, we expect to complete contract negotiations in the near future.

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Lee executives rake in millions

Jan 19, 2015 by Jeff

Life is good at the top for Lee Enterprises executives. With the company’s debt somewhat under control after successful refinancing efforts, CEO Mary Junck got a hefty increase in total compensation in 2014.

She earned a shade under $3 million — $2,827,705, according to the company’s proxy statement. That included a $1,150,000 bonus.

Chief Financial Officer Carl Schmidt received a total of $1,267,840, up from just $728,310 in 2013. He collected a $533,000 bonus.

Thus enriched, Schmidt announced his retirement as of July 1.

“Lee is in a very good place,” Schmidt said in a statement released by Lee. “Our long-term financing is set through 2022, and we have built a solid foundation for the future. As a result, it allows me an opportunity to spend more time closer to, and with, my growing family, give something back through volunteering and otherwise accomplish a few of the things on my must do list.”

The United Media Guild wishes Carl nothing but the best. And if for some reason Lee Enterprises reneges on his retirement package, the UMG will be glad to assist his recovery efforts.

We know a pretty good lawyer.

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UMG to hold Local Meeting Jan. 29

Jan 13, 2015 by Jeff

The United Media Guild will hold its quarterly Local Meeting and Annual Awards Presentation Jan. 29 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m at Lombardo’s Trattoria, 201 South 20th St. in downtown St. Louis (in the Drury Inn next to Union Station).

All members in good standing are invited to attend. Appetizers and beverages will be served. Please RSVP to the Guild office by Jan. 19 by calling 314-241-7046314-241-7046.

The UMG will update members on Local activities and finances. We will present our service awards for Solidarity,  Steward of the Year, Activist of the Year and Guilder of the Year.

We will honor quality journalism by giving the Terry Hughes Award to a St. Louis-area reporter. The winner was selected by a panel of past Hughes winners.

We will also present a John McGuire Award for outstanding career achievement in the field of journalism.

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NLRB investigates new unfair labor practices at the Rockford Register Star

Jan 5, 2015 by Jeff

The National Labor Relations Board will have a field investigator in Rockford this week to probe management actions at the Register Star.

The United Media Guild believes Register Star managers are harassing unit chair Max Gersh due to his union activities. It filed still another complaint with the NLRB, prompting a new investigation.

Once again the newspaper unfairly singled out Gersh for disciplinary action in the midst of negotiations for a first contract at the Register Star.

Earlier the NLRB found that the Register Star committed unfair labor practices relating to Gersh, the scheduling the photography department and the threatened outscourcing of all photography work.

The Register Star’s parent company, GateHouse Media, contested that ruling. The NLRB will hold a hearing on that matter in Peoria next month.

GateHouse Media is willing to spend thousands of dollars defending these allegations, but so far the company is unwilling to offer raises to employees working under perpetual wage freezes.

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UMG negotiates raises at St. Louis Review

Dec 16, 2014 by Jeff

United Media Guild members at the St. Louis Review ratified a new five-year contract that maintains strong jurisdiction language and provides increases to the pay scales.

A Scale Senior Journalists with five years of experience got a 3 percent increase with the ratification of this contract. They will also get 3 percent increases on the first two anniversaries of the contract, pushing the top weekly minimum salary to $1,447.73.

The pay scale for reporters with less than five years of experience increased by 3 percent upon the ratification of the contract and a each of the five anniversary dates.

For instance, in the fifth contract year, a reporter in his or her first year of experience would earn at least $1,252.45 per week — up from a minimum of $1,048.91 in the previous contract.

This contract also introduced a new classification: B Scale Journalist. This eight-year experience scale features minimum salaries ranging from $800.00 to $937.33 upon ratification to a range of $927.42 to $1,086.62 in the final year of the contract.

(Negotiations between the UMG and the Review defined the distinction in duties between A Scale Senior Journalists and B Scale Journalists.)

The contract also capped health insurance premium cost share increases to 5 percent during the length of the contract.

Given the constant change in the media industry, the UMG believed it was paramount to have strong jurisdiction language. If weekly Review publication is moved to or is replaced by another publication format within the Archdiocese, the contract says “the employees covered by the collective bargaining agreement will continue to be the primary producers of the work.”

Thanks to UMG Second Vice President Joe Kenny, Review Unit Chair Lisa Johnston and Review negotiating team member Stephen Kempf for their excellent work on behalf of their fellow members.

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Nominations for the 23rd Annual Terry Hughes Award

Dec 8, 2014 by Jeff

Terry Hughes was 36 when she died of breast cancer on July 22, 1991.  A columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, her writing was clear, witty and descriptive, with a flair for portraying society’s underdogs.  Some of her columns chronicled the bouts with cancer that she and others faced.  One column was credited with helping persuade the Missouri Legislature to approve a bill forcing insurers to pay for mammograms.

One of the many readers who wrote to the newspaper after her death described her work this way: “Her columns were full of real life stories that touched us all and even changed our way of thinking or even our lives.”

The United Media Guild has established a writing award in the name of Ms. Hughes.  The award is intended to honor a journalist whose writing shows the talent that she displayed.

Any journalist in the metropolitan St. Louis area who has written for a daily or weekly newspaper or for a magazine is eligible.  Online publications are eligible as well.

Single articles of extraordinary merit will be considered.  Preference will be given to entries of between three and ten articles that display the writer’s range of talent.

Articles must have been published in 2014.  There are no formal applications.  Anyone may submit a nomination by sending copies of articles to:

The Terry Hughes Award Committee

United Media Guild

1015 Locust St.

Suite 735

St. Louis, Mo.  63101

 

The deadline for applications is Friday, January 2, 2015.  The panel of judges is comprised of previous award winners. The award will be presented by the United Media Guild at its quarterly Local Meeting in late January.

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NLRB charges GateHouse with labor law violations at Rockford Register Star

Dec 8, 2014 by Jeff

The National Labor Relations Board has charged GateHouse Media Illinois Holdings Inc. with multiple violations of the National Labor Relations Act for management actions at the Rockford Register Star.

The NLRB investigated a complaint filed by the United Media Guild and found merit on several points:

  • GateHouse retaliated against our members after the UMG objected to unilateral changes to how photographers were to be scheduled. By labor law, such changes must be negotiated due to the status quo protections for working conditions during a initial contract negotiation. When the UMG would not agree to the changes, the NLRB charged that the newspaper “threatened employees and announced that it would change its policy regarding the ability of employees to alter schedules.”
  • GateHouse took that action in a letter to employees, the NLRB charged, “in order to undermine the (UMG)’s status as the employees’ bargaining representative.”
  • At the bargaining table GateHouse subsequently proposed that it have the right to outsource all photography-related work. The NLRB charged the company with doing so “because the employees . . . formed, joined and assisted the Union and engaged in concerted activities, and to discourage employees in these activities.”
  • By doing so, GateHouse “has failed and refused to bargain in good faith with the Union as the exclusive collective-bargaining representative of the Unit.”

The NLRB proposed remedies to settle these charges, but GateHouse Media declined. A company that steadfastly refuses to end its seven-year wage freeze will have no trouble running up a big legal bill defending itself in this case.

A hearing on these charges is scheduled for Feb. 10, 2015 at 9:30 a.m. in Peoria.

In the meantime, the NLRB will begin investigating a new UMG complaint about GateHouse actions in Rockford. In our filing we argue that the newspaper has twice singled out unit chair Max Gersh for disciplinary action because of his union activities.

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