People’s World goes union; editorial staff ratifies first contract

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THE PEOPLE’S WORLD staff, represented by the Chicago News Guild, are celebrating their first-ever union contract with Long View Publishing Co.

Chicago — After a nine-month negotiation process, the 11-member bargaining unit at People’s World has voted unanimously to ratify the first union contract in the publication’s 94-year history. The contract commenced on March 24 and will expire on March 31, 2021.

Long View Publishing Co. voluntarily recognized the union last year after a card check at the offices of Arise Chicago. People’s World is part of an explosion in newsroom organizing that has taken place over the last two years and which has come to include the Los Angeles Times, VOX, and Vice.

“This is a very principled group,” said Craig Rosenbaum, executive director and staff counsel of the Chicago News Guild. “At every turn, they demonstrated the unity and willingness to fight that any union needs to secure a great contract.”

REMARKABLE CONTRACT

And a remarkable contract was secured. Provisions include:

• An approximately 20 percent raise across the board.

• Two percent cost-of-living increases each year for the duration of the contract.

• 13 paid holidays, including May Day, the international day honoring workers.

• Increases in travel and telephone reimbursement costs.

STAFF GETTING WHAT THEY NEED

“I’m a modest donor to charitable organizations and to progressive political candidates,” said Eric A. Gordon, cultural writer and lead copy editor. “This raise will help me be a little more generous, especially in this crucial 2018 mid-term election cycle. Also, the increase on the per diem will allow me to eat lunch and dinner after I’ve paid for the breakfast special.”

Michelle Zacarias, reporter and member of the negotiating committee, said the whole People’s World staff will be “getting what they need to sustain a healthy lifestyle” for years to come.

JOINT COMMITMENT BY STAFF, MANAGEMENT

John Wojcik, editor-in-chief at People’s World and member of Long View Publishing’s negotiating committee, says he looks forward to a productive relationship with the union. “We are all committed to the goal of putting out a publication supportive of all the people’s movements as they combat the terrible effects of the Trump administration on the livelihood of the American people,” he said.

“This contract signals a joint commitment by the staff and management to continue producing the quality advocacy journalism that People’s World—and its predecessor, the Daily Worker—have always been known for,” said D.C. Bureau Chief Mark Gruenberg. “It’s great to see both sides live up to the publication’s principles, and truly serving the people: our readers.”

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Staffers at The Onion vote to unionize

Chicago –– Writers at the satirical website The Onion have decided to unionize –– no joke.

Workers at the website and its sisters, A.V. Club and ClickHole, will be represented in collective bargaining talks by the Writers Guild of America East and will negotiate with the owners, including the Spanish-language broadcaster Univision.

“It’s real news, I guarantee you,” said a spokesman for the Writers Guild of America East.

A.V. Club’s deputy managing director, Caitlin PenzeyMoog, says staffers began exploring union representation six months ago, with 90 percent of the workers signing union cards.

PenzeyMoog says digital media is a precarious industry and she’s seen some peers suffer while others have thrived with union protection.

Onion Inc. spokesman David Ford told the Chicago Tribune the company has begun discussions with the Guild and “hope to arrive at an arrangement in short order.”

The Onion was founded in 1988 by two University of Wisconsin students.

The paper relocated its editorial operations to Chicago from New York in 2012 and went all-digital the following year.

(Information from the New York Post and the Associated Press.)

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