By JANELLE HARTMAN
The Newspaper Guild
Carol Rothman, secretary-treasurer of The Newspaper Guild-CWA since 2008, announced today that she will retire at the end of 2013.
“Carol has brought reason, balance and conviction to her position. It is hard for me to imagine doing this work without her,” Guild President Bernie Lunzer said.
Rothman, who was a career Guild activist while working on the commercial side of Philadelphia’s newspapers, “doesn’t tolerate inaction or indecisiveness and has been a positive force for change at a critical juncture,” he said. “Working with her has been a real joy even as the issues we have faced have often been so dire.”
Rothman’s 43 years as a Guild member include a decade as vice president at large on the Guild’s International Executive Board, from 1983 to 1993. From 1995 to 2008, she served as the first woman and the longest-tenured sector chairperson. “I am proud to claim that footnote in Guild history,” she said.
Her work, from handling grievances and improving contracts to “just helping members and locals has meant so much to me,” she said. “It has made my life complete, and left me with many lifelong friends.”
Leaving her career isn’t easy, but she said, “I hope everyone recognizes when the time comes to leave a job, even a job you love, and give yourself some time to enjoy life.”
Lunzer plans to assign California-based staff representative Sara Steffens to help him handle Rothman’s duties until an election at the next Guild sector conference in early 2015.
At that time, Lunzer said he will run for re-election and is hopeful Steffens, 41, will run for secretary-treasurer.
“Sara is young but brings strong experience and has proven a quick study of the problems facing our members,” he said. “I believe Sara will be key to continuing to bring new ideas and fresh approaches to the problems faced by today’s generation of Guild members.”
Steffens was an award-winning reporter at the Contra Costa Times when she helped lead colleagues in an organizing drive at nine Bay Area newspapers, ultimately winning union representation for 225 workers. Just two weeks after the 2008 victory, she was one of 29 employees laid off at the MediaNews-owned papers.
Recognizing her talents, the Guild and CWA hired her to help with other organizing efforts in California. She currently splits her staff representative duties between TNG and CWA District 9.
To that nuts-and-bolts union experience, she brings the sensibilities of a Guild journalist.
“I truly believe that all of us who love journalism must fight to save it,” she said. “We have to be the voice for quality, in the work we produce and our own jobs. This is a critical time, not only for the future of media but for our democracy, and The Newspaper Guild is at the very center of what happens next.”
Steffens will continue to work in California. “The West Coast offers important opportunities for the Guild, while the highest concentration of Guild staff remains on the East Coast,” Lunzer said.