The representational staffers of the Washington-Baltimore News Guild have a combined 75-plus years of experience in organizing and bargaining, as well as in representing, mobilizing and educating workers. Their experience spans sectors, occupations and populations.
Executive Director (he/him/his)
Cet Parks joined WBNG as a local representative in January 2000 and was named executive director in May 2005. As executive director, Cet is responsible for the daily administration of the local union. During his tenure, he has been a local representative for many WBNG units, including The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun.
In addition to his experience with our local, Cet brings many years of experience as a field representative and organizer at the international union level with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT); the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); and the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA). In these roles, he served as chief negotiator for several collective bargaining agreements in the public and private sectors. He has also helped thousands of workers organize and win their unions, including 2,000 workers at Rhode Island Hospital and workers at industrial plants and poultry plants in the South.
In 1996, Cet was elected to the highest local union office as the business manager and secretary-treasurer of Laborers’ Local 70 in Mobile, AL. There, he gained invaluable experience in administration over the daily affairs of a local union.
A graduate of Morehouse College and of American University Washington College of Law, Cet was also a top graduate of the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute in 1992.
Nancy Banks joined WBNG as its office manager in March 1996. She is responsible for the day-to-day administrative and support functions for the local. Nancy’s work is essential to the dozens of news, information, nonprofit and labor organization units WBNG represents. She keeps our local on track by processing all of the membership information at our union.
Nancy is a graduate of Norfolk State University and Chesapeake Tidewater Community College. Her distinguished professional career began with a two-year tenure at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in DC. She later worked for the Department of Defense at the Norfolk Navy Shipyard in Portsmouth, VA, where she achieved several promotions during her sixteen-year federal career. She served as an Equal Employment Opportunity specialist before returning to DC and taking on her role at the Washington-Baltimore News Guild. Nancy’s dedicated and unselfish service to the Guild has created a strong foundation for a growing and vibrant organization.
Shirley Cherry joined the Washington-Baltimore News Guild in April 2018 as the bookkeeper for the local and has more than 35 years of education and experience in accounting. Prior to joining the Guild, Shirley was the staff accountant for John I. Haas Hop Company for 13 years. After leaving Haas, she became the executive board bookkeeper for the International Union of Bricklayers for three years and then the senior staff accountant for Housing Assistance Council. Shirley also assisted in setting up the accounting for a public charter school in the District of Columbia. Shirley has experience in both for profit and non-profit settings.
Local Representative (he/him)
Eric Geist has been a Guild member and activist since he started working in the commercial department of The Washington Post. He has extensive experience in the labor movement, having worked at The NewsGuild, CWA and Department of Professional Employees at the AFL-CIO.
At TNG, Eric served as an international representative and later as the director of field operations, supervising and leading negotiations for multiple contracts, directing the union’s organizing program and training members and local leaders. In 1993, he worked on the Canadian Media Guild’s successful organizing campaign among unions at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which added more than 2,300 members, more than quadrupling the unit’s membership. He also worked on the affiliation of the Boston Globe union in 1995 and was the lead organizer for the Radio Free Asia campaign.
Eric has been back with WBNG since 2018, supporting members in bargaining and organizing, including some career highlights as chief negotiator. Eric worked with Guild members at Lambda Legal to win an initial contract with a health insurance plan that covers medically necessary transition-related health care. At the League of Conservation Voters, he helped members win an initial contract that includes guarantees of racial justice, equity and inclusion for all employees.
Bruce Jett became a member of the NY Newspaper Guild in 1987 as an advertising salesperson at the New York Daily News. He brings decades of experience and expertise to the Washington-Baltimore News Guild as an organizer, mobilizer, negotiator and representative in the public and private sectors, across multiple industries and professions. He has been with WBNG since 2011 and served as lead organizer for the Center for Popular Democracy, M+R Strategic Services, BSMG/Chesapeake, Lambda Legal and the League of Conservation Voters.
Bruce’s Guild activism began in his first shop, where he served as shop steward and, later, grievance chair, Affirmation Action Committee member and its first African American unit chair. He also served as a bargaining team member on contract campaigns across the table from Daily News owner Robert Maxwell and, later, Mort Zuckerman and Fred Drasner.
Bruce went on to work as a union representative for the Committee of Interns and Medical Residents in New York City, helping medical residents find their voice and champion safe working conditions in the midst of their stressful 120-hour work weeks. In 1999, he moved to Virginia and began moving up the ranks at AFSCME, eventually becoming the union’s international organizing director in 2003. During his time at AFSCME, Bruce helped thousands of workers win their union. He directed the groundbreaking state of New Mexico employee organizing campaign, in which nearly 9,000 workers signed up and received voluntary recognition of their union from Governor Bill Richardson within a nine-month period.
His leadership experience includes several periods as executive director. Bruce served as the interim director in New Mexico for AFSCME Council 18, which had 26 locals and 10,000 members. He later became the interim executive director for the historic Memphis AFSCME Local and the interim executive director at the AFSCME Houston local.
Paul Reilly has been a member of The NewsGuild since 1980, when he went to work for United Press International in San Francisco and later for The Associated Press in New York and Washington.
Paul was hired as a local representative at WBNG in 2001 and has been the primary representative for the local’s second largest unit, Bloomberg Industry Group (formerly Bureau of National Affairs, BNA). In addition to Bloomberg Industry Group, Paul helped organize and bargain the first contract at the local’s fourth largest unit, Radio Free Asia. Paul’s other units include Politico/E&E News (PEN Guild), Agence France-Presse, Roanoke Times, Charlottesville Daily Progress, The State (SC), Catholic News Service and Casa de Maryland.
While working for The AP, Paul served as local vice president (at the Wire Service Guild, now known as the News Media Guild); National Grievance Committee chair; editor of the local newspaper; full-time organizer; full-time mobilizer; shop steward; and full-time bargainer (first bargaining a contract at The AP in 1985). While Wire Service Guild vice president, Paul directed a mobilization and recruiting effort at The AP that saw the membership rate in the nationwide open shop climb from 50 percent to more than 60 percent in less than a year, and he established a permanent mobilization network that kept the membership rate strong.
Local Representative (she/her)
Sammi joined the local staff in 2021. An activist to the core, in 2019 she joined her colleagues at the League of Conservation Voters to form a union with the Washington-Baltimore News Guild and served on the bargaining committee to win a first contract after just nine months. Through the trauma of 2020, Sammi and her Guild siblings at LCV built an active contract campaign with a diverse, multi-racial group of organizers, securing an average salary increase of 10%, protections for immigrant staff, accountability structures for racist harassment and toxic behavior and improved employee control over job descriptions and workload. Following the first contract, she served as a shop steward and a NewsGuild member organizer before joining as WBNG staff.
A third generation Hoosier, Sammi became a vegetarian after reading about the terrible working conditions in meat packing plants and was voted “most likely to become a tree hugger” her senior year. She graduated from Marquette University, where she studied Economics, French and Theology. She moved to DC during the 2016 election and was politically activated by the Trump victory. Sammi lives in Washington, DC, in Ward 7 and loves to cook, bake, and listen to film review podcasts. She’s an alumni of the Rising Organizers Fellowship and a member of Metro DC DSA and All Souls Church.
Evan Yeats joined the staff of WBNG in March 2021. He started working at the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and joined the Guild in 2008. At the UFCW, Evan worked on campaigns for bargaining, organizing and workplace safety that helped tens of thousands of retail, food manufacturing and meatpacking workers find their voice at work. He led his unit for years, serving as unit chair and bargaining committee member through several rounds of contracts, winning across the board wage increases, substantial increases to parental leave and increased opportunities for professional development. Evan won Unit Officer of the Year (2012) and led the unit to the Unit of the Year (2013) at the WBNG Front Page Awards. Prior to coming to WBNG, he was consulting on bargaining for news workers in California, Hawaii and Florida.
Originally from Iowa, Evan has lived in DC since 2008. His first union membership was at AFSCME, working as an overnight police dispatcher while in college. After a stint as an award-winning radio reporter in Eastern Iowa, he became a labor communicator, organizer and representative and worked as the communications director for a team that won the first-ever contract for civilian municipal workers in Houston. He lives in Takoma, DC with his wife and three children.