HQ, Regional Races Uncontested As Guild Heads Into Election Year

Republished with permission from The Newspaper Guild

The Guild is headed into an election year for international and regional offices, but campaigns could end as quickly as they begin if all races remain uncontested.

Currently, Guild President Bernie Lunzer is unopposed in his bid for re-election, as is Martha Waggoner, the Guild’s international chairperson.

Lunzer and Waggoner are running on a consolidated ticket with Guild staff representative Marian Needham, candidate for secretary-treasurer.

Delegates to the sector conference that runs Jan. 15-18 in Orlando will have the opportunity to make nominations for those jobs, as well as seven regional vice president positions. All positions are for four years.

Candidates who run unopposed may be elected by acclamation at the conference. If more than three or more candidates are nominated for a position, delegates narrow the slate to two. Then those races are decided by a vote of the regional or full Guild membership, by mail or electronic ballots.

The secretary-treasurer position being decided will be renamed “Executive Vice President” if delegates approve a proposed title change as they consider a series of constitutional updates. The Executive Council suggests the change to more accurately reflect the broad duties of the job.

Another change related to the position is that it will not automatically be based at the union’s Washington, D.C., headquarters. Instead, the position likely will continue to be a field-based position, as it has been since Lunzer appointed Sara Steffens as acting Guild secretary-treasurer last year.

“We understand the need for flexibility and the needs of our locals. Technology allows us to reconsider where folks are placed, making certain of course, that the work gets done well,” Lunzer said.

Steffens, who took over in January 2013 for retiring Secretary-Treasurer Carol. was expected to run for the position on the ticket with Lunzer.

But in October, CWA District 1 Vice President Chris Shelton asked Steffens to run for CWA secretary-treasurer, joining him in his bid for CWA president. So far Shelton, whose office is based in New York City, is the only announced candidate running to succeed retiring CWA President Larry Cohen.

Meanwhile, incumbent CWA Secretary-Treasurer Annie Hill is running for a second term. Currently, no one other than Hill and Steffens has entered the race. CWA elections will be decided at the union’s convention in Detroit in June.

Six current members of the Guild Executive Council were running unopposed as The Guild Reporter went to press: Region 1 VP John Hill of the Providence Guild; Region 2 VP Sheila Lindsay of the Washington-Baltimore Guild; Region 3 VP Kevin Flowers of the Erie Guild; Region 4 VP Mike Cabanatuan of the San Francisco-based Pacific Media Workers Guild; Region 6 VP Janet Weyandt of Sheboygan; and Scott Edmonds, currently Canada West VP.

Until the recent retirement of Canada East VP Barbara Saxburg, Canada had three representatives on the Guild Executive Council, the two regional vice presidents and CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon. CWA Canada’s Representative Assembly is recommending a constitutional change that would permanently reduce its allotment to two officers: union president and a single vice president, currently Edmonds.

The final regional VP is currently Randye Gilliam of the New York Guild, Region 5. Gilliam is not running for re-election; no one had announced for the position as the GR went to press.

Needham, the only announced candidate for Guild secretary-treasurer, has been a Guild member since 1979, when she was working part-time at the Buffalo Courier-Express

“At the time I was hired, the department I worked in was organizing with the Guild. I voted yes and never looked back,” Needham said. At the paper, she worked on the Guild’s grievance, bargaining and executive committees. When the paper shut down, she became the Buffalo Guild’s service representative, then in 1997, joined the staff at Guild headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Needham spent six years helping with grievance, arbitration, and preparation for contract talks, as well as training local leaders. She returned to Buffalo as a Guild staff representative in 2003. She has a BA in labor studies from Antioch University, conferred by the George Meany Center for Labor Studies in 1994, and did much of her degree work at Cornell University’s New York State School of Industrial Labor Relations, Buffalo.

“The Guild faces a lot of challenges right now, but we also have a lot of resources we can use to address those challenges,” Needham said. “Certainly CWA maintains funds to help locals who are in contract battles, and some locals have done remarkable work on that front, but we also have funds to organize and to pursue strategic campaigns.

“If I’m elected, I’ll do my best to help identify the challenges we can address effectively, and help locals build campaigns that utilize those funds to enhance our power to improve members’ working conditions,” she said.