I joined the News Media Guild in the Atlanta bureau in 1987, while I was night editor there, and I have never questioned that decision.
To me, it was basically a question of honor. The Guild has fought hard for good benefits and wages for all of us and stood up for staff involved in disputes with management, so I felt for me not to join would amount to freeloading.
After Atlanta, I transferred to the Tallahassee bureau, where I served as union shop steward for part of the time. I covered the Florida Statehouse and Gov. Lawton Chiles’ first term, along with hurricanes, tourist murders and all manner of mayhem, both political and criminal.
I moved on to Washington in 1993, where I covered the 1996 presidential campaign, Congress and the Justice Department.
In 2005, I returned to Florida, where I have been covering the courts and legal issues in Miami, ranging from terrorists and pill mill operators to Cuban spies, Ponzi scammers and run-of-the-mill murderers. And I cover the occasional hurricane, of course, so it’s never boring.
I’m still a proud member of the Guild and appreciate how hard the bargainers fought for us to get our most recent contract. We got far better terms than what many of our media colleagues have received over the past couple years. And the freeze in health care costs for the full term of the contact was a big victory.
During our negotiations this year, my 10-year-old daughter made some signs, which we held up outside the Miami bureau during a job action. She now understands a little about the power of collective bargaining. All Guild-covered staffers should learn that same lesson.