Author Archives: Martha Waggoner


Guardian-US staff unanimously approves 1st contract

Guardian-US staff voted unanimously to approve their first contract, which includes pay raises, paternity leave of 10 weeks for a birth or adoption and employer payment of the full cost of health insurance for a worker.

The editorial employees working in New York, Washington and San Francisco approved the contract last week. They voted unanimously in July 2015 to have the News Media Guild as their bargaining agent.

“I commend The Guardian for reaching a fair contract with our members that embraces its values,” said Amanda Holpuch, a Guardian Guild-covered staffer and member of the bargaining team. “We are proud to have been backed by an engaged, energetic staff who supported the negotiation team.”

Under the proposed contract, wages will increase 1.5 percent on Jan. 1, 2018, 1.75 percent on Jan. 1, 2019 and 2 percent on Jan. 1, 2020. However, if the cost of living exceeds those amounts, the increases will be adjusted to meet the actual cost of living.

The top-scale pay for general assignment reporters is now $65,000, which would increase to $68,400 in January 2020. The top scale pay for a section head and a senior reporter would move from $95,000 to $100,000.

The agreement contains job security terms requiring “just cause” for termination and that seniority will prevail in cases of staff reductions when an employee has the needed skills and ability to perform the job. Severance pay for staff reductions are based on length of service that range from no less than five weeks’ pay to no more than 50 weeks. For the first three months after the termination, the Company will make the same contribution to medical and dental insurance for any employee and dependent coverage the employee is enrolled in at the leave date.

Differences over the contract’s provisions are subject to a grievance procedure which includes the possible arbitration of disputes.

Employees’ annual vacation will be 25 days, which increases to 28 days after five years of service. Work on any of the 10 holidays will be paid at time and one-half in addition to the employee’s workweek.

Parental leave for maternity, adoption and paternity of 10 weeks at full pay will be granted upon request to employees who are expecting or give birth or are newly matched for the adoption of a child for which they will be a primary caregiver, provided they have one year or more of continuous service at the date the parental leave commences.

The Guardian will continue to pay the full premium for its employees’ health insurance. If the cost of the two-person and family plan members increase, the company will absorb the first 10 percent of the additional cost. The company will continue to contribute 4 percent to employees’ 401(k) accounts each pay period which new employees can enroll in after 60 days of service.

Training will be provided when employees are assigned to new posts, when they use new technology and when jobs are altered significantly. Refresher courses in those areas will be made available on a regular basis.

Overtime eligible employees are entitled to premium pay after forty hour of work a week while ineligible will receive compensatory time off. Sick days will be counted as time worked.

The agreement also includes terms for sick leave, transfers and promotions, non-discrimination, leaves of absences, expenses, the use of social media and a fair share representation fee.

Guardian-US copy editor returns to work after successful union challenge

The Guardian US union is delighted to announce a staff copy editor has returned to work after being unfairly terminated in May. 
The copy editor, Chris Taylor, says he’s grateful for the support from the News Media Guild.
“I want to thank the News Media Guild, as well as my colleagues both here and abroad, for their amazing support,” said Taylor who lost his job in May and returned Sept. 18. “I’m delighted to be back doing my job again.”
Over the course of six months during contract negotiations with the News Media Guild, the company announced two buyout periods in the U.S, operation to respond to a budget shortfall. 
The company negotiated the buyout terms with the union in both instances, but during the second round, the union claimed Taylor was terminated in violation of the interim job security agreement. This prompted the News Media Guild to file for arbitration. 
The staff in the U.S. as well as their National Union of Journalist colleagues in the U.K. and Australia worked together to convince the company to reinstate Taylor.
Arbitration was due to begin in December, but staff learned in August that the company decided to return Taylor to work after another copy editor left the job in July. Taylor is being treated as if he was on a paid leave of absence. The Guild and the company agreed that the resolution would not be referred to by either side as precedential. 
The News Media Guild reached a tentative agreement for a first contract with the company on Sept. 19, and a contract ratification vote will be conducted shortly.  
Rick Freeman

Guild organizer Rick Freeman remembered as friend to all

From cousins befriended in childhood to people he met in a bar and bonded with over Bruce Springsteen and beer, Rick Freeman made friends easily and kept them.

He left a lasting impression on people he met just once _ or only via social media _ and a deeper one on those who knew and loved him, who were many.

Freeman, who was the News Media Guild’s mobilizer until he was diagnosed with brain cancer in early August, died Aug. 31 in Cleveland at the age of 40. He had worked as an editor and reporter for The Associated Press in New York City before taking a job with al-Jazeera America, which he helped organize when the workers there voted to join a union in 2015.

Freeman “wanted to do his part to help his co-workers in any way that might make their night a little easier or more enjoyable,” said Noah Trister, a close friend, fellow AP sports writer and frequent companion to Springsteen shows. “I think that’s what helped make him such a loyal and active union member. His career wasn’t just about the work, it was about the people. He felt everyone around him was worth fighting for.”

It was clear from the heartfelt messages of grief on his Facebook page that Freeman’s greatest gift was making other people feel like they mattered.

One man who knew Freeman for only a few hours during a conversation in a New York City bar after Freeman had attended a Springsteen concert described him as “a lovely guy who left a lasting impression and gave me something to remember from my time in that city. A city made beautiful by people like Rick and Jon (a friend).

“I’m so sad for his friends and family, I’ve seen him tagged in tributes all day. If he was that kind to a total stranger I can only imagine how much love he had for them.”

In addition to loving The Boss, Freeman also held an affection for the professional sports teams of his native Cleveland.  He twice ran in the New York City marathon.

A cousin shared a photo of the two of them as children with Freeman tousling her hair. “I can only assume you were consoling me because you were blessed with those glorious Jewish curls & I was not,” she wrote. “Cousins are our first playmates as children and then become our best friends. I have zero words for this.”

Many of those sharing memories knew Freeman from his days at the University of Michigan and often from the student newspaper. One said he maintained his friendship with Freeman via Twitter mostly, where “his warmth came through in the staccato of our intermittent conversations … It was both ephemeral and yet meaningful.”

News Media Guild members who didn’t know Freeman when he worked at The Associated Press were just getting to know him as bargaining was beginning for a new contract. One said she had met Freeman just once, when he was New York to discuss negotiations. “He was so kind and wonderful and funny, and this is a huge and devastating loss,” she wrote.

Freeman was supposed to lead mobilizing at a weekend meeting in August in Washington, D.C., but his illness prevented him from attending. Still, he worried about missing the gathering. He texted Guild President Martha Waggoner to find out how things were going, and she instead asked how he was doing.

“I’m pretty OK, considering. Just wish I could be helping more.”

“And that sums up Rick,” Waggoner said.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the National Brain Tumor Society Defeat GBM Research Collaborative. 

Aino Wheler, Freeman’s wife, has asked that his friends gather the weekend of Oct. 7 for the Head for the Cure 5K in Cleveland, which will serve as both a raucous celebration of Rick’s life and a fundraiser for research.

In addition to his wife, whom he married in June 2016, Freeman is survived by his parents, Richard and Barbara Freeman, and his sister, Ellen Freeman Kraatz.








Guild members in New York City meet with bargainers

News Media Guild members based in New York City met with the Guild’s bargainers to show support for the team and express their priorities and concerns for contract negotiations.
Bargainers Jill Bleed of Little Rock, Vin Cherwoo of New York Sports and technician Dave Herron of Seattle met Monday with members of the New York staff near the AP’s new headquarters downtown. New York City shop steward Stephanie Nano arranged the meetup.
Members told the bargainers that wages, better training and health insurance are top priorities for bargaining, along with job security.
“I know it will be a long haul,” said Beth Harpaz, a Guild member in New York City. “I’m especially grateful to those negotiators coming into New York City for long periods away from home and family. We had a good chat about the positive impact that some of the new proposals _ such as the ability to use our own sick days to care for dependents and expanding parental leave _ would have on staffers and on the workplace in general.
Bargaining resumed Tuesday. 

Guild hires Michele Salcedo as mobilizer for AP bargaining

News Media Guild members who work at The Associated Press: Get ready to hear a new voice asking you to help with mobilizing.

That’s because the Guild has hired Michele Salcedo, a desk editor in The Associated Press’ Washington, D.C., bureau, as its full-time mobilizer during bargaining for a new contract with the AP.

The current contract expires at the end of September.

Salcedo, who attended the meeting of mobilizers that the Guild held earlier in August, said she‘s excited about getting Guild members energized for the talks.

“AP journalists are among the hardest working, most dedicated practitioners in the business. I am thrilled to lead the mobilization of AP workers to win a fair contract and, with Guild members and staff, to remind the AP of the excellent job we do every day to produce fact-filled journalism on all platforms for the AP and its members.”

Salcedo is membership secretary for the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., which has more than 3,000 paid members and a $12 million budget. She also has served on regional and national boards of the National Association for Hispanic Journalists, and is a past national president of the association.

The Guild previously had hired Rick Freeman, a former AP sports staffer, who helped organize al-Jazeera’s U.S. operation, as the mobilizer. Freeman has had to step aside for personal reasons, although he still plans to contribute to the mobilizing.

“We were sorry that Rick had to leave as mobilizer, but we’re pleased that Michele is available to get the staff mobilized for bargaining,” said Guild President Martha Waggoner.

Salcedo is taking leave from her AP job, where she focuses on immigration issues and the general news desk, starting the week of Labor Day.