April 22, 2020 – General Membership Meeting

Washington-Baltimore News Guild
General Membership Meeting
April 22, 2020, 7:04 PM Via Zoom

Present: Elise Bryant, Hau Chu, Steve Cook, Ben Cooper, Lillyanne Daigle, Scott Dance, David DeJesus, Lydia Ealey, Tim Fitzgerald, Ed Fortney, Scott Reynolds, Jasmine Gargoum, Joel Gratz, Don Griesheimer, Mark Gruenberg, Fatima Hussein, Freddy Kunkle, Marissa Lang, Tamara McCalla, Katie Mettler, Justin Moyer, Sam Nelson, Bryan Nelson, Bill O’Meara, Mark Pattison, Jeremy Sprinkle, Michelle Wang

Excused: Tom Jackman

Staff: Rick Ehrmann, Eric Geist, Bruce Jett, Cet Parks, Paul Reilly

I.  Minutes

January 29, 2020  

Mark Gruenberg motioned to approve minutes, seconded by Donna Cartwright.  Motion Passes to adopt the minutes.

II.  Membership Report – April 22, 2020

April 22, 2020

Don Griesheimer motioned to approve membership report, seconded by Mark Pattison.  Motion Passes to adopt the membership report.

III.  Officer’s Reports

President’s Report

President Steve Cook reported on legislation that would provide funding for newsrooms (Save The News) during Covid-19 crisis, extensive layoffs and furloughs and return to work issues related to Covid-19 crisis.         

Vice President’s Report

Vice President Elise Bryant reported on AFL CIO constituency groups working on anti-racist attacks on Asian American workers during the pandemic by developing five economic principles on civil and human rights.

IV.   New Business


V.  Old Business


VI.  Executive Director & Staff Reports

Cet Parks

UFCW – We recently had Zoom negotiating sessions on April 8,2020 and April 15, 2020. The counters and moves made by both parties were minimal. Overall conducting the negotiating sessions over Zoom was successful.

YORK DAILY RECORD (YDR) – We had to take a pause in successor contract negotiations to bargain over furloughs last week. Gannett requested to bargain over furloughs for each individual TNG bargaining unit because of significant loss of advertising revenue.

Even though the YDR contract states there can be no reduction of pay or benefits, bargaining unit members quickly decided to take a one-week furlough in an attempt to prevent less senior co-workers from being laid off.  We were not able to achieve a no layoff clause during the furlough period but the YDR will pay back the furlough week to anyone that is laid off. We also got agreement to carry over any expiring vacation.

THE BALTIMORE SUN – Tribune Publishing has imposed pay cuts of 2-10 percent on non-union staff making $67,000 or more. Soon after management proposed a flat 4.5 percent pay cut for bargaining unit employees making $67,000 or more.

The management deadline for the pay cut proposal technically passed on Wednesday, April 15, 2020, but we are still in the process of discussing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with the company for the information request.  The discussions are ongoing.  At the same time, we believe Tribune is planning layoffs regardless.

Rick Ehrmann

Washington Post – We have begun to explore with management the possibility of extending the current contract which expires on July 12, 2020, due to Covid-19 epidemic. 

Center for Popular Democracy – Bargaining committee is close to reaching a labor contract settlement. 

Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO – We will be negotiating with acting president. Andrew Washington. 

American Postal Workers Union – We are waiting to hear from APWU’s attorney for bargaining dates. 

Arbitration National Association of Social Workers – The NASW management notified us that. effective April 1. the Association would stop paying their 5.5% contribution to members401(k) plan. Members signed and delivered a protest petition to the CEO.   At the March 30 Step 2 grievance meeting. Management announced they will continue to pay the 5.5% contribution every pay period.

Paul Reilly

Charlottesville Daily Progress – Since last report the new owner has announced new furloughs.  We held multiple conference calls between other Locals with Lee papers and Lee executive team.  Lee agreed it could not implement furloughs in Charlottesville and Omaha (the other Lee paper in first-contract bargaining) while in status quo.  Instead. they proposed expedited bargaining. As of this writing. we are in day four of off the record discussions.

FPSU (Florida SEIU Local) – Made a new economic proposal.

ROANOKE TIMES – Shortly after filing for election. the NLRB suspended all elections. even mail ballot. but then reinstated mail ballot elections.

Eric Geist

Chesapeake Guild/Tidewater Guild/Tribune Joint Bargaining – The 2019 Sun extension includes language that ties Sun raise to wages negotiated with the Chesapeake unit.  The military has notified BSSMG that it is exercising its right to end the Soundoff contract as of June 30 – which affects one member of the bargaining unit.

The Capital Gazette has proposed hiring a Reporter for America journalist for one year and excluding it from the bargaining unit. We have countered with a proposal that it be included in the bargaining unit and governed by the initial contract once that is in effect.

The Tidewater Guild is two units. One unit includes the Newport Daily Press and the other is the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot.  The second unit is the Williamsburg Gazette and the Tidewater Review.  Chesapeake and Tidewater are part of a joint bargaining with the Tribune Company.  The other units are also bargaining initial contracts and includes The Morning Call. the Hartford Courant. and the Design and Production Studio (DPS) based in the Chicago Tribune printing plant.

Tribune proposed that all units take a permanent pay cut beginning April I9.  There is no proposal for the joint bargaining table, but Tribune has been notified of our willingness to bargain jointly, should a proposal be made.

Indivisible – This is an initial contract.  There was an issue with a change to performance reviews for some of the job titles.  We have proposed the information not be used their purposes of pay, promotions. or discipline.

League of Conservation Voters – This is an initial contract. Bargaining is scheduled April 23. 28 and May 7. 

Rewire News – this is an initial contract. The unit has been reduced to seven members after losing a large donor.  Bargaining sessions were held March 17 and April 1, 6, and 7, the first ones since the end of October, after the founder left the CEO and Editor post. The sessions resulted in tentative agreements. 

Bruce Jett

Southern Poverty Law Center- We have a signed MOU that codifies a Steward structure and a Grievance Procedure with Arbitration for bargaining unit employees.  This is a groundbreaking achievement prior to contract negotiations.

United for Respect – Unit of 20 employees has met a half dozen times for bargaining their initial contract. We have achieved almost 11 non-economic tentative agreements thus far. UFR’s management has initiated a disrespectful and overreaching Non-Disclosure/Confidentiality proposal for the entire B.U. and, so far has refused to bargain over it.  This could result in the Guild filing a ULP if their stance doesn’t change. 

Lambda Legal – The Guild and management are currently discussing the details and fact findings of their proposed Labor costs reduction. A Zoom audio/video has been set up to inquire and work through what is in the best interests of the Bargaining Unit before they move forward with any plans. 

Political Research Associates – Unit of 10 eligible employees in Somerville, MA that publishes a progressive quarterly magazine focused on Immigrant Rights, LGBTQ Justice and Gender, Reproductive Rights and Economic Justice has elected their Bargaining Team and in the midst of sending out their Bargaining Survey since their February recognition.

Alliance for Justice – A Unit of possibly 20 persons located here in DC that advocates and educates the public on the political process and our rights as citizens. The group has received voluntary recognition and are electing their bargaining team and sending out their bargaining survey to the unit. 

Indivisible – Unit of 55 with HDQ in DC and offices across the US operating as a grassroots progressive movement initiated in 2016 as a reaction to the unfortunate election of Donald Trump.  They are electing their Bargaining Team and collecting their Bargaining Survey responses. 

Color of Change – Unit of 80 employees here in DC and abroad – they are a progressive Social Justice advocacy organization dedicated to “changing the color of democracy” for people of color.  We are in the initial stages of building out their national organizing committee with some moderate success. 

Several other organizational probes are underway, and I will keep the EC updated relative to their incremental progression.

VII.  Financials – Expenses

No items to discuss

VIII.  Good & Welfare

No items to discuss

IX.  Adjournment

Rick Ehrmann motioned to adjourn, seconded by Ed Fortney.  Motion is adopted and meeting adjourns at 7:40 PM.