About 150 members and guests turned out for the event at Maggie O’Brien’s restaurant in downtown St. Louis.
Guild International President Bernie Lunzer was in attendance and swore in the Executive Committee members who were present.
Local 36047 President Gordon also presented service pins to members with 25 years or more.
For the first time in the Guild’s history, the Guilder of the Year award was presented to a non-member: Barbara Camens, the attorney who represented the Guild in its battle with St. Louis Post-Dispatch parent company Lee Enterprises over retiree medical benefits, for her “inspired leadership and tireless efforts on behalf of Post-Dispatch retirees.”
Camens was presented the award by Erica Douglas, the daughter of former Post-Dispatch newsroom employee Robert Douglas, who suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure and died less than a year after Lee cancelled his medical coverage.
Gordon said the memory of Robert Douglas was fresh in everyone’s mind as the Guild fought and worked toward a settlement with Lee over retiree medical benefits.
The Guild fought a 3½ year battle with Lee, reaching a settlement through federal mediation. The settlement includes a confidentiality agreement that prevents the Guild from disclosing its terms.
Camens, long recognized as one of the more talented labor attorneys in the U.S., said unions must often, “take on fights without much chance of success but can still find honor along the way.”
The 334-member Guild represents members at traditional news outlets such as the Post-Dispatch, the St. Louis/Southern Illinois Labor Tribune, St. Louis Review, KSDK-TV, Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star, Pekin (Ill.) Journal Times and the newest member of the Guild The State Journal-Register, of Springfield, Ill.
The Guild also represents members at Unicom-ARC, a public relations firm; Missouri Jobs with Justice, a social justice advocacy organization; Truthout, a national news website and Workers Interfaith Network of Memphis, Tenn., a social justice group.