News Media Guild officers and other delegates attending The Newspaper Guild’s recent convention in Pittsburgh discussed the top challenges facing their locals and unions in general.Delegates from across the U.S., Canada to Puerto Rico also shared strategies for being more effective, particularly in strengthening our locals and winning better contracts.And they heard inspiring stories of organizing successes, including workers at the Dayton Daily News finally getting a new contract last year after a 26-year battle, and the Pacific Media Workers Guild starting an innovative mentoring program that gave students short paid internships, guidance and a positive experience with unions.
NMG President Martha Waggoner, who is also the TNG’s international chairwoman, told the crowd that the union’s fight is more important than ever.
“Our stands for quality journalism and for working people … are inextricably tied,” she said, “because journalists shine the light on the problems in this world and the suffering of those in need.”
TNG President Bernie Lunzer, also speaking at the April 18-20 conference, said unions need to tell their story better because most people agree with our goals of giving the working class a voice and a fair shake. Unions must be part of the broader social justice movement, he said.
At the CWA convention from April 21-23, also in Pittsburgh, President Larry Cohen challenged delegates to build a robust movement for democracy and economic justice, saying, “If not now, when?” He said the fight has never been harder, with state governments attacking bargaining rights and private-sector workers struggling for the ability to negotiate with their employer.
But Cohen said it’s far from hopeless, noting that CWA has had some big organizing wins recently. He said unions must build a movement of 50 million progressives in our workplaces and communities to enact needed changes. To that end, CWA has formed alliances with the NAACP, Sierra Club, Common Cause and other progressive groups to start working together.
At the convention, delegates voted to devote more funds to strengthening CWA’s ability to fight for economic justice, organizing more workers and playing offense on bargaining and other priorities.
Meanwhile, CWA’s retired members group is growing rapidly and providing valuable support, from joining picket lines to contacting members of Congress. And CWA’s Next Generation initiative is running training sessions to develop future leaders of the labor movement.