Former NewsGuild president: Four years is too long to wait

I’ve watched with interest as The NewsGuild goes through a difficult election to decide who will lead it over the next four years in a news industry fraught with problems and promise.

Linda Foley

Linda Foley

I am proud of the Sector Election & Referendum Committee, which, after investigating potential voter disenfranchisement, scheduled a new election. I have several Guild friends who serve on the election committee. It’s a thankless job, and I commend them for their service. Their willingness to rerun the election for International Guild President demonstrates real commitment to democracy and the Guild.

With a rerun election looming, Jon Schleuss recently asked me if I would publicly endorse him for President of The NewsGuild. After much thought and soul-searching, I said yes.

I believe Jon is the right person to lead the Guild for the next four years. He comes from the L.A. Times unit, where he helped lead a historic organizing drive in 2018, an organizing victory that has inspired hundreds more in other newsrooms to join the Guild.

As TNG president, Jon will be focused on more organizing, but he also emphasizes that the Guild must develop and maintain a viable collective bargaining program to give new members real voice and power. He has pledged to develop a communications strategy that will engage members at all levels of the union.

Eleven years ago, I was involved in a similarly contentious Guild election. My losing the TNG presidency still hurts, and, believe me, it would be much easier for me to stay out of this current political battle. But, I decided to endorse Jon because I want the Guild to inspire and empower a new generation of journalists and media workers.

Years ago, I was part of a generational change in Guild leadership. When I ran for TNG President in 1995 as the first woman candidate for the top job, our generation of Guild leaders derided me as “inexperienced” and not prepared to face a difficult future. We were told, “This is no time for a social experiment.”

But Guild members overwhelmingly voted for our team to lead.  Ask anyone who was around back then; it was an amazing time for our union as we marched toward a successful merger with the CWA, added hundreds of new members, established TNG Canada (now CWA Canada) and took on employers with renewed confidence. We certainly suffered our share of defeats, but all in all, the 1995 election signaled real change and optimism for the Guild.  Many current Guild leaders, including the incumbent president, were among those who stepped up back then, adding their energy and vision for the future.

Now The NewsGuild finds itself on the cusp of another era of change. Hundreds of new members have been organized in far-flung locales, many of which had been traditionally anti-union. The news industry, meanwhile, continues to consolidate and lurch from economic crisis to economic crisis.

I believe it’s once again time to turn to a new generation of Guild leaders to meet these challenges. Four years is too long to wait. The Guild needs their leadership now. If I were still an active Guild member, I would be voting for the Guild’s future. I would be voting for Jon Schleuss.

Linda Foley,

Former TNG President (1995-2008)

Linda Foley