TNG Sector Conference Report

The 2011 Sector Conference of The Newspaper Guild was held in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 3-6. Treasurer Kim Leiser and Local Service Representative Tammy Turnbull attended for Buffalo Newspaper Guild.

National representation from the locals was heavy; TNG Canada and Puerto Rico were also represented. The agenda was full for the conference due to the fact there will not be another TNG sector conference until 2013 because of constitution changes made last year at the CWA Conference.

Highlights of the four-day sector conference included:

* An emphasis on growing the union with the concept that “a union that is not growing is dying.” Organizing opportunities are all around. Some examples are: unorganized departments where locals have a presence, other employees in areas where locals are, unorganized workers outside traditional industries and growing ranks of contingent workers, whether they are called independent contractors, freelancers or daily hires.

* A push to build relationships with other TNG, CWA and NABET locals on community and regional levels. Some examples: St. Louis and Kenosha are merging TNG locals; Portland, Maine, is merging with CWA print sector unions at its paper.

* TNG nationally is bringing in 1.6 percent more in revenue than it is spending. CWA judges the health of national unions on three levels: Phase I — income greater than or equal to expenses; Phase II: all cost (common costs); Phase III: legacy costs. TNG is meeting Phase I, not phases II and III.

* Strategic analysis of membership for 2010 was 23,282 members, which is on par with where TNG was in the 1950s. It has lost roughly 31,000 in the newspaper industry in the last three years; 180 publications have closed or stopped printing in the same three-year period. The number of TNG locals is 81, which is on par with where it was in the 1970s.

* A bargaining subcommittee will be established to engage in a dialogue with district councils and make recommendations to the Sector Executive Council to reaffirm the cornerstones of the collective bargaining program; develop recommendations for contract standards; address the use of social media in the workplace and corresponding privacy issues by developing principles and guidelines with the goal of strengthening contractual outside-activities clauses.

* Discussion of dropping “-paper” from Newspaper Guild. President Bernie Lunzer said he would begin referring to the union as “The News Guild.”