Laura Francis Re-elcted Unit Chair


Guild members last week overwhelmingly re-elected Laura Francis as their unit chair. She defeated Scott Harper, who was one of the unit vice chairs.

Francis had served as co-chair with Gwen Holmes for the past two years. Holmes did not seek re- election, and Guild members decided earlier to return to the single unit chair format.

There were no other contested offices.

There are two new officers — Bruce Kaufman replaces Harper as one of three Arlington vice chairs. Tammy Madison is the new unit secretary, replacing Janeen Mikell-Straughn, who did not seek re- election.

Steve Cook switches from vice chair to become the delegate to the WBNG Executive Council. Benjamin Cooper, who had been the delegate, becomes vice chair. Gary Diggs continues as the other Ar- lington vice chair.

Daren Neuben and Ray Algeo continue as Bethesda vice chairs.

In the race for WBNG Local offices, Cooper fell short in his bid for Local Treasurer. Incumbents Sheila Lindsay (president), Tim Fitzgerald (vice president), Mark Gruenberg (secretary), and Amy Lampkin (treasurer) will serve another term as WBNG officers.


Thanks to a provision bargained by the Guild in the current contract, some 70 Guild-covered employees collected a total of $50,000 in ‘spot’ bonuses last year. The bonuses ranged from $250 to $1000. The av- erage bonus was about $720.

Spot bonuses are intended for “meritorious work” that deserves “special financial recognition.” (See appendix F in the contract).

An employee can be nominated by a supervisor or can self-nominate.


Guild-covered employees who were here for all of 2014 will be getting a corporate performance bonus of 2.5 percent of base pay. BBNA did not reach its yearly revenue targets, but because the Guild bargained a minimum payment, employees still get a bonus.

Employees should learn shortly what their individual performance bonus amount is. Supervisors have been meeting with employees to tell them their ratings. The bonus money — both the corporate and individual — will be deposited into accounts February 26.

Employees hired between January 2 and June 30 of last year will get one-half of both the corporate and individual performance bonuses. Those hired after June 30 don’t get a bonus for 2014, but will get full bonuses for 2015.

Problems With WageWorks? Let the Guild Know!

The Guild has become aware of problems that employees have experienced with the recent transition from HFS to WageWorks as our provider for transportation and flexible spending account benefits.

In order to better represent you, we’re reaching out to see what types of problems, if any, employees have had.

Examples include:

  • technical difficulties registering your Smartrip card and/or registering for WageWorks and thus missing out on January or February benefits due to a missed deadline
  • inability to receive reimbursements for parking payments made in late 2014

Please provide a brief description of the problem you encountered and the type of benefit: mass transit, parking, bicycle, health care FSA, or dependent care FSA. Also, let us know whether the problem related to up-front benefit payments or reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses.

The Guild negotiated these benefits in the contract and we want to make sure that nobody is denied them because of circumstances beyond their control.

Please email Laura Francis ( or David Schwartz ( by the end of the day February 13 to let us know if there’s a WageWorks problem we can help you with.

Report from The NewsGuild Sector Conference

From January 16-19, our local union, the Washington Baltimore Newspaper Guild, sent delegates to the meeting of our “sector” of the Communications Workers of America, now called The News- Guild, in Orlando, Florida. One of the delegates was an officer from BBNA. Here’s a recap of what happened:

  • The name of our immediate parent is no longer “The Newspaper Guild,” as so many of our fellow units are partly or wholly out of the paper business. We are now “The NewsGuild.” It’s still abbreviated as “TNG.”
  • BBNA is doing better than many of our peers in the news industry. Several newspapers are facing layoffs and no raises for up to seven years. Once-daily papers have become three- to four-times- a-week papers. Even Canadian public broadcasting faces regular layoffs. There was a presentation on the news industry at the conference, which revealed that BBNA already provides the types of products that are the future of the news industry: subscription-only, high-quality information responsive to subscriber needs.
  • Delegates passed a large number of resolutions making technical changes to how the NewsGuild does business (changes to the name, how many delegates on the board from Canada, etc.). Most notable for us is that the NewsGuild now as a matter of policy requires a ban on gender identity discrimination to be proposed in all collective bargaining agreements.
  • The NewsGuild staff offered to help with organizing here. If you are interested in taking a seminar on how to get more people to join the Guild, please let a union officer know.


The Guild has filed a grievance charging BBNA with improperly denying contract rights to em- ployees by classifying them as “contractors.” The grievance covers dozens — and maybe more — em-

ployees who have been denied such benefits as vacation, sick leave, 401(k) payments, and bonuses.