Multi-Council Guild meeting centers on future

The Newspaper Guild conducted a multi-council meeting on April 20, 21 and 22 in Cleveland, Ohio, with a majority of the U.S. Guild units represented, as well as members of the Canadian Executive Council.

Although no official business was conducted, it was an opportunity for all present to discuss ideas for the Guild’s immediate and long-term future, with an emphasis on organizing, consolidation and regional alignments.

Organizing new members continues to be a primary focus for all Guild locals, and units were encouraged to think “outside of the box” in respect to who should be included in organizing campaigns. As newspapers have gotten smaller, it is more important than ever to recruit new members through organizing so that the Guild can continue to thrive, Guild officials said.

There was also a discussion of how the Guild may realign its current U.S. District Councils along vertical geographic lines, creating three districts instead of the five that currently exist. Small group workshops also discussed how locals within the districts could work together more effectively by sharing resources, information and possibly staff if logistically possible.

The Collective Bargaining Blue Ribbon Panel established after the 2011 TNG-CWA Sector Conference in Orlando, Fla., made its initial reports to the councils. Charged with re-affirming the cornerstones of the collective bargaining agreement, developing recommendations for contract standards and effective strategies to maintain those standards, the committee reported on such issues as diversity, evergreen and successor and assigns clauses, grievance and arbitration, jurisdiction, just cause, seniority, wages and union security/dues checkoff.

Barbara Camens, general counsel for The Newspaper Guild, gave an eye-opening talk on newspapers and social media policies. Many newspapers are issuing social media policies that seek to shut down online discussions of workplace issues and Guild concerns, she said.

Can you be disciplined for critical comments of your employer on your Facebook page or Twitter account? Should employers be able to monitor your off-duty online posts in social media? What is your right to privacy and what is a reasonable social media policy?

Camens covered all these questions and more. But many of them don’t have good answers because laws have yet to catch up to what’s happening on the Internet, she said.
Barbara Camens, legal counsel for The Newspaper Guild presented information on Social Media and its impact on employees.

The Buffalo Newspaper Guild also presented information on our planned Leadership Training Program. Response to the presentation was very positive with several inquires from Guild locals across the country wishing to participate in the program.

Buffalo Newspaper Guild President Henry Davis, Treasurer Kim Leiser and Local Service Representative Tammy Turnbull attended the multi-council meeting.