Tag Archives: Washington Post

Three Words Behind the Gawker Union: What About Us?

“What about us?” was what Gawker reporter Hamilton Nolan asked as he wrote about talk of Vice workers forming a union. Nolan’s beat is work and jobs, but the subject resonated with him at his job.

What followed came fast. Nolan spoke with Justin Molito of the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), who talked him through the nuts-and-bolts of organizing a union.

Nolan and others at Gawker didn’t wait for the full old-school process, though. The next thing Molito knew, Nolan and others had posted a meeting invitation on Facebook. Forty people came. The next morning a bunch of Gawker writers were posting about their desire for a union.

“This is something we waged publicly, because that’s how Gaw

From left to right at the table: Freddy Kunkle of the Washington Post talked about organizing among skeptical media workers while NewsGuild-CWA organizing director Tim Schick and Hamilton Nolan of Gawker look listen.

From left to right at the table: Freddy Kunkle of the Washington Post talked about organizing among skeptical media workers while NewsGuild-CWA organizing director Tim Schick and Hamilton Nolan of Gawker look listen.

ker operates,” Nolan said. Then something rare happened. Instead of resisting the idea, Gawker CEO Nick Denton agreed to a private ballot vote. On June 4, about 120 Gawker workers voted to unionize by a margin of 3-1.

This Wednesday afternoon, Nolan and Molito joined NewsGuild-CWA organizing director Tim Schick and Freddy Kunkle, co-chair of the Washington Post unit of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild for a discussion on at the AFL-CIO on organizing in digital media. The News Guild has been organizing in new media for 20 years and counts about 2,000 new media members.

Gawker workers wanted to publish at every step along the way, beginning with an early position piece on why workers there wanted to organize. That openness continued with a public discussion of how people planned to vote and why.

“It can almost be a tutorial for organizing,” Nolan said.

He’s not kidding. The discussion is frank, and even raw at times. The workers literally wrestle out issues in real time.

“If new media industry is going to grow up—and it is growing up—we need to do this,” he said.

If you’re interested in organizing at your workplace, please take this survey. Or you can simply email me. I’m a member of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild.


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Rally at the Washington Post for Career-Quality Jobs

Well, it’s been some time since I’ve posted. You know how things go. You get busy. Time flies. And yet here we are again.

Another unit within my local union is made up of the staff of the Washington Post. For years, I’ve been a low-key activist in my local who volunteered time here and there, but lately I’ve taken things up a notch.

One place where I’ve done more is with the Washington Post. You can read about it below….

WAPO Rally: Workers Defend Career-Quality Jobs at Top-Tier Newspaper

Oct28Post ActionScores of workers at the Washington Post rallied with a boisterous crowd of supporters including a small marching band on the sidewalk in front of the Post building on 15th Street NW during the noon hour today.

The message was clear: The workers at the Post will defend the legacy and the future of this newspaper, no matter the odds.

At stake are career-quality jobs at one of the nation’s cornerstone media institutions.

Post owner Jeff Bezos, one of the world’s richest individuals and the founder of Amazon.com, bought the Washington Post Company last year. He has asked the workers at the Post for wage cuts of up to 17%, and those cuts would grow over time.

On the picket line, Post newsroom and business-side staff alike spoke of the pride they have in their work.

“We serve a bigger mission than just ourselves, and we want to be treated with respect. We don’t want the world. We just want what’s in our contract,” said reporter Matt Schudel.

“We want this paper to thrive! I love the Post!” said Lori Aratani, who’s a reporter on the paper’s metro desk.

“We help hold institutions accountable, and that’s important. We give a voice to people who maybe don’t have a voice. It’s important for us to be accurate and fair, and that takes a lot of experience and education both in school and on the job,” Aratani said.

Most galling to the workers is the fact that the proposed cuts seem ideological, not business-driven.

“These cuts are absolutely unnecessary!” said Fredrick Kunkle, who co-leads the Post unit of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild.

Nobody goes into journalism to get rich, Post workers said, but neither do they want to work at jobs without good health care, good pay or retirement benefits.


Filed under News and Commentary, Uncategorized, Unionism

Don’t Blame the Rich. Make Them Pay.

It’s Superbowl Sunday. In a few moments, I’m going to light charcoal in the smoker in my backyard, and the rest of the day will be all about hanging out with my spouse and my son and daughter… while a pile of wild goose breasts covered with bacon slowly cook to perfection in the smoker….

So why do I feel compelled to toss another argument into the ether? I honestly have no idea, and I’m violating all the basic rules of blogging. I’m about to comment on something ancient—a week old—and I have no intention of turning my personal blog into a place to comment on issues of the day, so don’t come back often for more of this type of fare….

And yet, the lead opinion piece in the Washington Post last weekend was so ridiculous, so deeply and profoundly stupid, that I feel compelled to point it out.

I’ll begin with the basic premise behind the title, “Angry about inequality? Don’t blame the rich.”

Those two phrases paint a picture of petulant and lazy poor people, maybe all standing in line at the bus stop, who point an accusatory finger at a smart-looking couple driving to work in a comfortable car with leather seats.

The column says: If you were better educated, more disciplined and creative, you could have a nice car, too, you slob.

The piece then takes the reader down a narrow and illogical path, painfully avoiding honest analysis by silently re-defining the “rich” away from the truly wealthy and toward the educated middle class and repackaging a pile of old “blame the poor for poverty” yarns.

But I don’t “blame the successful.” And you shouldn’t either.

Yes, it’s true that the super-rich and corporations have rigged our nation to squeeze every possible dollar from the rest of us, both from our wages and where we spend our money. Yes, it’s true that the rich love corruption and hate a truly free democracy…. If you’ll notice, all of the “freedoms” loved by the truly rich invariably restrict the freedoms of the rest of us.

But we let them do it…. We let them pit us against each other! We let them trick us with cheap credit and the promises of the rewards of deregulation! We let them fool us into thinking that we could cut our taxes to increase our wealth, when the opposite is true! We let them target our rights and freedoms in the workplace!

That’s why the imbalance in our country has reached such severe proportions. It’s that simple. We let them off the hook, and we took on every burden ourselves.

So, no, don’t blame the rich.

We don’t have the time, really, for a bunch of finger-pointing. We need to rebuild our country, and for that we need cash. Let’s raise the money by making everyone in America pay fairly.

As our president said, it’s not a matter of blame. It’s simple math.

We’re not a bunch of lazy slobs in a bus line, pointing at the smart people and complaining.

We’re hard-working people who have been giving the lion’s share of our earnings to a bunch of over-sensitive prima donnas, and it’s time we stopped.

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