Why new members are paying dues voluntarily

Happy Labor Day!

Today we have a lot to celebrate and still a lot of fighting to do. An unprecedented wave of grassroots organizing has added more than 2,000 members to the NewsGuild in the past couple of years. They are inspiring and elevating our union, building on the experience and hard work of the thousands of members before them.

New members not yet covered by a contract were prevented from voting in the last election. Now, because of our appeals, they are eligible to cast ballots in the rerun — if they voluntarily pay dues. Many of you have reached out to me asking how this works. So we put together a simple calculator that shows how much dues cost in shops where our colleagues are working hard for a first contract. 

To become eligible to vote, members in those shops can start paying dues for August going forward. A number have already done so.

I salute these new members for paying dues early to have a voice in reforming our union. Here’s what they’re saying:

Ron Lin, Los Angeles Times

Ron Lin  @ronlin

Ron Lin @ronlin

Last week, I sent in my check to pay voluntary union dues so I can vote for Jon for president of the international NewsGuild, North America’s largest union representing journalists. 

Why did I do this — pay union dues even before my local guild and our managers at the Los Angeles Times come to a labor agreement? I believe in Jon. He was an early leader in a historic effort to organize our colleagues to form a union, and I feel his energy and enthusiasm will bring much needed change to the Washington-based NewsGuild, representing 20,000 workers in the United States and Canada. 

Paying voluntary dues to vote is kind of like being a super-member of a nonprofit you believe in — I didn’t have to do it. But I’ve seen the good that a union can do in our own newsroom, in part due to Jon’s leadership, helping us have a powerful, unified voice. Our next president will lead us for the next four years — a lifetime in this era of great change in journalism. I feel paying voluntary dues is a long-term investment in our industry’s future, and I want a leader of the NewsGuild that I can believe in; someone who will fight for my values of unity, transparency and accountability.

I’ve worked with Jon, a visual journalist, find ways to shine a light on topics that were otherwise opaque and difficult to understand. His background is excellent for someone leading a union representing workers of news organizations as well as interpreters, translators, and staffers for unions and nonprofits. His recent act of simply live broadcasting the recent election results as the vote was tallied — exactly what he does during his day job — show that he has the values that I believe in. 

Before Jon’s campaign, I didn’t know anything about the NewsGuild. But with Jon’s success in helping to organize the L.A. Times Guild, and his optimism about a future that can be better, I’m hoping he can help the NewsGuild grow our membership, and fight for our ideals. It’s why I’m taking the step of voluntarily paying my dues for August, and continuing to pay them monthly voluntarily until our guild and managers reach a contract, so that I can vote in this election. If you can afford to do so, I hope you’ll consider doing the same. 

Lainna Fader, New Yorker

Lainna Fader  @lainnafader

Lainna Fader @lainnafader

I started paying membership dues this month even though @newyorkerunion is still in the process of bargaining for our first contract. 

I did this for two reasons: I wanted to contribute to my union in the midst of record growth, when more resources are needed from the guild to support so many journalists who just joined and are fighting for their first contract. And I wanted to vote in the rerun of the International’s presidential election, which you can only do once you’re a dues-paying member. I intend to vote for Jon Schleuss, who has been a tireless advocate for journalists at shops of all sizes around the country since being a leader in the L.A. Times’ historic union drive.

At its core, this election is about the future of the NewsGuild. I want a more transparent, progressive union that raises the voices of new members and encourages their participation. The lack of communication with new shops from the leadership of the international, while publicly celebrating the inclusion of over two thousand new members, is strange, and the hostility toward new members for asking to participate at the sector conference was shocking and alarming. Not working directly with new shops also means forgoing the insights and strategies developed by rising union leaders and labor activists in these new shops who have so much to contribute and are eager to share their knowledge with workers across the country. Our international should be connecting its members rather than perpetuating silos and keeping their members in the dark. 

Jon has shown that he knows how to reach and inspire journalists in need of support and encouragement. He has a vision for a more democratic and transparent NewsGuild that will build on the momentum of the incredible grassroots organizing that led more than two thousand people to become members of the NewsGuild in the last couple years—a vision that will help us achieve full unionization of the media industry.

Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times

Julia Wick  @sherlyholmes

Julia Wick @sherlyholmes

I feel incredibly lucky to be at the Los Angeles Times, and equally lucky to get to be a part of the Los Angeles Times Guild. There is plenty of uncertainty about the future of our industry, but I know that strong, forward-looking unions will be crucial to any sustainable path forward. I have deep admiration for Jon’s vision and leadership, and everything he has already done to build the LAT Guild.

I‘ll be honest, when I first did the math to see what I would need to pay monthly to become eligible to vote in the NewsGuild election, it seemed like too much. But then I expanded the equation: I hope to work as a journalist for the next 50 or 60 years, and have this job that I love remain a viable career path for the rest of my life. I’m joining to vote for Jon because I feel strongly that putting him at the helm of NewsGuild can help secure that future. Not just for me and my colleagues, but for all the newsrooms organizing and building collective power across the country.  

Andrew Pantazi, Florida Times-Union

Andrew Pantazi  @apantazi

Andrew Pantazi @apantazi

Today, I signed a check paying dues to the NewsGuild, because our union needs Jon Schleuss as its next president.

In Jacksonville, when we organized our newsroom, we did not get the training or resources we needed from the NewsGuild. In the final weeks of the campaign, when it looked like we might lose our election, we turned instead to the journalists at the Los Angeles Times. We used the strategies Jon and his colleagues implemented in Los Angeles to get us across the finish line.

The member-driven organizing victories across the country have pushed the NewsGuild to revamp its organizing strategies. We've had successes, but we still have more work to do.

There are so many journalists who want and need a union. And there are so many in new units who need strong first contracts.

Now that we’re bargaining our first contract, Jon calls me regularly to ask how he can help. We’re not the only ones getting this level of help from him. Behind the scenes, he has volunteered to help organize across the country, and he has pitched in to strategize with new units over bargaining and mobilizing tactics.

We organized our newsroom because we wanted a say under the ownership of a private-equity-managed corporation. By forming our union, we built power. Under Jon’s leadership, the NewsGuild will empower all of its members.  

Jon Schleuss