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My Only Knock On Unions

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Pete Incaviglia, Feb 23, 2009.

  1. Pete Incaviglia

    Pete Incaviglia Active Member

    So, while I stew over potentially being laid off, I got to thinking.

    I know for a fact I wrote the second biggest number of bylined stories in 2008. The other sports reporter had more.

    I know for a fact I have the second-best read blog at our shop. We have roughly 12 blogs.

    I write, take photos, lay out pages, blog and can update our website.

    I may be out of a job because I've only been here two-plus years.

    A guy who wrote the second fewest bylined stories, has taken one photo in the time I've been here, has never blogged and never laid out a page — EVER — but has been here nine years, will keep his job.
  2. silvercharm

    silvercharm Member

    I am very anti-union, though it would have saved my job had we had one at our shop. One of the staff's most veteran, boffo annual reviews, high byline count, willing to do whatever was needed on the web, etc. Without a union guys like me are screwed because we make among the newsroom's highest salaries. Easy picking fruit, especially in a day when newspapers could give a shit what they're putting in the paper, as long as there's something that hits the front doorstep.
  3. pseudo

    pseudo Well-Known Member

    There's room for both opinions, buck. All depends on whose ox is being gored.
  4. I think buck's confusion stems from the same person adhering to both opinions.
  5. rpmmutant

    rpmmutant Member

    It's been my experience that unions, especially those at newspapers, are fairly weak. By nature, they protect the worst employees and the best employees equally. I suppose that's indiscriminatory, but in times like this, it makes you wonder why some people keep their job and some lose their job.
    Aside from that, the unions at the paper's I worked for rarely had successful negotiations with management. I remember one year the union fighting for lunch breaks. I don't know of any journalist who ever takes a real lunch break like normal people, most eat at their desks or during games, but there's no way that should even be part of a negotiation. Fricking joke.
    Unions are weak. If they had any bargaining power at all, they would demand at least 90 days notice before layoffs take place and better severance packages for its guild members, you know, like other unions already have in place.
  6. britwrit

    britwrit Well-Known Member

    I don't know. This is probably the stupidest idea ever seen on SJ but isn't it time for the Newspaper Guild to be a little proactive? Couldn't they set up websites in cities where the daily has laid off dozens of talented reporters, where said journalists could still work their beats?

    Sort of like: "Hey, sorry you had to lay all those folks off. We had a lot of fun but hey, at least we have this neat little co-op over here where we can compete continue to work our craft."

    I'm sure the Guild has something left in the kitty. I mean, it's a rainy day, no? And wouldn't the threat of a rival internet site - though somewhat lame - perhaps deter further bloodlettings?

    And, full of fail, I slink back into the darkness....
  7. Drip

    Drip Active Member

    Idea is nice.
  8. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    It's not a stupid idea, BW -- it actually was done in Detroit back in the 1990s. If memory serves, Guild employees who refused to cross the picket line put out a weekend newspaper, and it actually had quite a bit of community (and advertiser) support for a while.

    I didn't work in Detroit for the Freep or News, but a bunch of us passed the hat around our newsrooms, then drove over from Chicagoland to support the unions at a weekend rally. We thought it was a cause worth fighting for. I still do.
  9. Drip

    Drip Active Member

    That was also done in Seattle as well.
    In some shops, the Guild sucks.
  10. pseudo

    pseudo Well-Known Member

    Nah, I can see silvercharm being opposed to unions in general, but still wishing one had been around to help him/her. A little self-serving? Perhaps, but we're all looking out for No. 1 these days, no?
  11. Magic In The Night

    Magic In The Night Active Member

    For those who doubt the value of unions, the unions in Detroit beg to differ. When Gannett said it wanted wage freezes this year, the unions replied, uh, well, we have a contract so if you want to change said contract, we're going back to the table. The Guild went back in the past few weeks and negotiated another year on the contract and a lot of protection/severance if/when layoffs come along. It continues to amaze me that people in the journalism business, who are being laid off at will at newspapers without unions, can sit there and say unions don't do anything for them. Get a clue.
  12. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    The Guild at the Herald followed the will of the majority of its members, who had little seniority, and bargained away seniority rights for layoffs. Sucked to be senior me, but the Guild also got a buyout/layoff package that was excellent. Unions can make a bad situation less worse, not fix it. That's not nothing.
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