Los Angeles

LA staffers John Mone, Tony Kee, E.J. Tamara and Alicia Chang join NMG recruiting coordinator AJ Connelly, second from left, in Los Angeles.

My Dad’s union holds an enormous picnic every summer, drawing thousands of members and their families. Growing up, I always looked forward to the day _ eating hot dogs and cotton candy until our stomachs hurt, cheering on the men in the giant tug-of-war contest and (my favorite part) diving for the silver dollars the president would toss into the pool for the kids.
It just one of the things that his union does to build a sense of unity.
One of the challenges that News Media Guild members face is fostering a similar sense of unity when we’re scattered from coast to coast. We can’t exactly hold a come-one-come-all picnic.
Even on the buro level, staggered shifts, far-flung living arrangements and long commutes don’t help. Nor does the fact that we’re all facing demands to do more with less, adding pressure to our days and increasing the desire to just go home and relax with our families when we’re done with our work.
I heard variations on this dilemma during my visit to Los Angeles, echoing concerns voiced in Phoenix, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. before that.
How do you cultivate solidarity with colleagues you rarely see off-deadline?
Part of the challenge may be met by maintaining a visible presence in each buro. Our red t-shirts and buttons aren’t just for contract negotiation time. We should keep the shirts draped on our chairs, proudly display buttons and use Guild lanyards to hold our ID cards. We should also utilize our bulletin boards to promote benefits like UnionPlus and draw attention to the efforts the Guild makes to improve our work environment.
Just like the AP is emphasizing branding, it’s important that we do the same, reminding ourselves (and our colleagues who have been slow to sign their cards) that “We Are Union.”
It’s also important to find ways unique to our locations to bring members together. Social gatherings are an key aspect of team building _ and they need not be limited to after-work drinks, which don’t appeal to everyone.
Guild members should consider organizing events that include family members and take advantage of the opportunities in their communities. Ball games, free concerts in the park, fireworks nights, local fairs and similar happenings can offer fun ways to bring us together outside the office.
Perhaps you’ll even be inspired to pull together your own family picnic.
Just don’t forget to invite non-members to be a part of the fun _ and the Guild.
-AJ Connelly, NMG recruiting coordinator