At a time of great challenges, we must build a modern, forward-looking International NewsGuild that will better serve our members and grow our numbers.
Develop an international organizing strategy
As our membership grows, so does the Guild’s strength. We must learn and draw inspiration from our recent, grass-roots successes in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and elsewhere — and replicate them across our industry.
The International Guild can no longer take a passive approach to organizing — the posture that saw it retreat and shrink for decades. We need a smart, cutting-edge strategy to motivate, guide and support — with real resources — organizing campaigns wherever media workers lack representation.
We must use all the weapons we can bring to bear — data and analytics, persuasive storytelling and messaging, deep reporting on corporate looting and executive misconduct — to win these campaigns. We’ve seen this work on the ground in places like L.A.
At the same time, we must reconnect with workers in established locals to reverse the drain in Guild membership we’ve suffered in open shops.
The International Guild should be the first choice for media professionals who want to organize. Every media professional in the United States and Canada should view the Guild as a vibrant union that promises its members a more secure future.
Adopt an engaging communications operation
For a union of communicators, the International Guild has done a poor job of communicating with its own members, let alone those outside our ranks who might want to join us. That must end. We need a dynamic communications program that will make our union more transparent and democratic, light a fire under organizing efforts and increase membership participation in everything we do.
The International Guild should have a deft communicator as its leader — including in the public arena, on First Amendment issues and other matters important to our members. We must start driving the larger conversations about our industry. We should have an authoritative voice.
We need a captivating and secure website. It’s essential that we have a more active social media presence. And we need an e-newsletter for both external and internal communications.
The International Guild leadership hasn’t even kept the Guild Reporter publishing. It allowed the position of communications director to go vacant for many months (as it did for the jobs overseeing organizing and bargaining). The novice organizers in L.A. wisely rejected the International Guild’s communications strategy as antiquated and defeatist. It should never come to that.
We also must help our locals develop online platforms and other signatures — visual branding, including logos — to improve their communications.
As the largest community of news professionals in the land, all of our communications should foster an open exchange of ideas, a diversity of viewpoints and ultimately a unifying message for our members.
Provide more support for contract negotiations
The International Guild must develop a more-robust program for training and assisting our members — and particularly new officers — in the art and science of negotiating good contracts. Our rank-and-file negotiators should enter contract talks with all the tools and support from Guild headquarters they need.
The International Guild should offer an intense bootcamp on contract templates, bargaining-table tactics and proven methods to keep members engaged in the talks. We must provide continuing education in all these areas to stay a step ahead of changes in the industry.
For our working negotiators, legal advice and other expertise should never be more than a quick telephone call away.
We can accomplish nearly all of this with just a sharper focus by the International Guild and a smarter use of resources already at its disposal.
Good contracts strengthen our locals from within and are the Guild’s best advertisement for new organizing drives.
Connect our locals and mine their talent
All of our locals should be marshaled into a collective force. Too many of them operate in silos. Let’s get our local leaders into a digital chatroom. Let’s get them talking to each other.
We should keep one another informed of what’s happening in our respecting shops. We should regularly share ideas and insights for organizing and bargaining, complementing our strengths and shoring up our weaknesses.
We have talent to tap in all of our locals, starting with their leaders. Guild headquarters should establish a means for us to readily and routinely engage with one another.
This should have happened long ago.
Promote democracy and transparency in our union
A democratic union is a powerful union. The International Guild must do more to encourage our members to participate in its operations and vote in its elections. Much of what the Guild headquarters does is opaque and distant from the membership. This gets back to lousy communications, but the problem goes beyond that.
We should conduct inclusive and competitive elections. The International Guild should inform members directly and in plain language of upcoming elections months in advance of the balloting. It should issue rallying cries for members to run for office or at least vote for their leaders.
Our election rules need to be updated to accommodate the largest possible turnout of members in good standing.
Champion diversity and equity in the workplace
Our industry should be the last place you would find a lack of diversity in the workforce and a persistent inequity in pay for women and people of color. Unfortunately, that’s not true.
The International Guild has not done nearly enough to lead the campaign for diversity and equity in our newsrooms and other shops. And what it has done has come late in the game.
At the international level, we must demand regular and verifiable audits of our industry’s progress and goals in bringing an appropriate range of cultures and life experiences to the workplace and ensuring that our members receive equal pay for equal work. We should help our locals demand the same of the companies that employ their members.
The International Guild must set the agenda on this front by highlighting diversity and equity in all of its broader communications, organizing drives, contract negotiations and day-to-day operations.
Advocate for the NewsGuild in the CWA
Our union is one of many sectors in the Communications Workers of America, the result of a merger the International Guild entered into a quarter-century ago. As such, we must constantly make our case to the CWA for funding and other resources.
The International Guild leadership has lamented again and again how tough it is to get more out of the CWA.
It shouldn’t be that way.
For starters, if the International Guild hadn’t been in decline for all these years, it might have more leverage in the competition for the CWA’s attention and help. You can’t blame the CWA for not prioritizing a sector that hasn’t submitted a credible strategy to grow.
We’ve shown that the Guild can grow with grassroots organizing campaigns over the past couple years. And when we grow, the CWA grows.
A change in leadership that reflects the remarkable surge in successful organizing campaigns will make the Guild a stronger advocate for its members in the CWA. That advocacy will include a firm stance for the Guild’s independence within the CWA as a union of journalists and other media workers.
“I urge you to support Jon, who is exactly the kind of thoughtful and tireless leader the International needs in this particularly challenging media landscape.”
— LAINNA FADER
THE NEW YORKER
“Jon brings both intellect and a passion for people to union work that is sorely missing in leaders today.”
— IVAN PENN
NEW YORK Times
“Jon's vision, good humor and unshakable commitment to protecting the rights of journalists at The Times are the same reasons he is the person we need to lead the International Guild.”
— Nathan Fenno
Los Angeles Times
“Jon was instrumental in starting and sustaining our organizing drive. That not only saved our legacy, it energized newsrooms across the country.”
— ALEX WIGGLESWORTH
LOS ANGELES TIMES
“Jon is one of the smartest, bravest and most creative union leaders I've ever encountered. He was exactly what we needed to finally organize the Los Angeles Times newsroom.”
— PAUL PRINGLE
LOS ANGELES TIMES GUILD VICE CHAIR