Incumbent refuses debate

 

In January — and again two weeks ago — I invited my opponent Bernie Lunzer, the incumbent NewsGuild President, to a debate. There are only two candidates in this election, the first competitive one our members have seen in more than a decade.

Lunzer declined both invitations to debate.

A strong candidate would welcome a debate to defend his record, but my opponent’s record isn’t defensible.

During his 11 years as president the Guild has lost more than a third of its members. And it did little to organize the digital media outlets that represent the changes in our industry. While Lunzer dozed, most of those shops organized with another union.

The incumbent has also overseen the departure of veteran Guild staffers and has left top positions vacant. The union of journalists and media workers doesn’t have a director of communications, nor does it have a director of collective bargaining. How can we continue to grow and thrive without a strong communication plan and an effective strategy for bargaining?

A healthy institution benefits from competition and discourse. When we don’t allow new voices, we stagnate and shrink, which is why I have been so transparent about my platform and what I will do if elected president.

Here’s my plan for my first week:

  • Start the process to hire directors of collective bargaining and communication. They are essential to our work.

  • Talk to NewsGuild-CWA officers and employees and ask what they think works well and, more importantly, what could be done better.

  • Audit our resources so we can be more strategic with what we currently have.

  • Get our collective bargaining program back on track. New units shouldn’t be made to wait an entire year before getting to the bargaining table. Our members deserve better.

  • Build committees from our membership to improve our website and brand so it offers better information for new shops as well as our established locals.

  • Connect our locals and members with better tools: listservs, Slack channels and an electronic newsletter.

This is a very important election. It’s a full time job with a four-year term.

As a rank-and-file member, I know how much our industry can change in four years. We need a leader connected to our industry and capable of growing and strengthening our union.

I am making a serious decision to leave my job at the Los Angeles Times, pause my career as a journalist and move my family to Washington, D.C. because I believe in the future of The NewsGuild-CWA.

Please vote in this election. If you’re not sure how to vote or haven’t received a ballot, click here.

Thank you.

 
 
Jon Schleuss