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Unions/guilds pros and cons

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by buzzerbeater, Aug 2, 2007.

  1. buzzerbeater

    buzzerbeater Member

    I am a 16-year vet who has never been part of a union or guild.
    That may change soon despite the extreme opposition of our publisher and corporate.
    Would enjoy reading some pros and cons of unions/guilds from those of you in the know.

  2. STLIrish

    STLIrish Active Member

    I've been at two union papers and one non-union paper. All I know is that, at the union papers, I got better pay, reasonable benefits and, for the most part, overtime when I worked it.
  3. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    A union will also help keep you from getting fired without cause.

    The drawback to that is those same rules sometimes wind up protecting slackers who flaunt them.
  4. Flying Headbutt

    Flying Headbutt Moderator Staff Member

    If you ask me the pros outweigh the cons. Typically it means better benefits and better treatment. But that's not exactly on a stone tablet carried down by Moses.
  5. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    You'll make more money and it will be harder for management to fire you -- in general.

    Some other folks will be along shortly to tell you why that's a bad thing.
  6. Brooklyn Bridge

    Brooklyn Bridge Active Member

    Screw the unions. They cap how much you can make and help those who shouldn't be employed keep their jobs. I'm sorry, but I'm a grown man and I can negotiate my own salary if I want to. I won't get into the nepotism/cronyism, involved in non-industry shops.

    In support of unions, I will say you can get a better benefits package. Just be sure to know what union you would be joining and their fees.
  7. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    That's silly, BB. Guild shops don't "cap" salaries. They negotiate minimum-level salaries. Beyond that, members can negotiate higher wages for themselves, typically through "merit" pay. In the 2007 newspaper environment you are much better off with union protection.
  8. Pete Incaviglia

    Pete Incaviglia Active Member

    I'm split down the middle. I've been at one non-union shop and four union shops.

    At the non-union, I worked my ass off, sometimes for little in return. That was until I found out a fellow reporter who obviously did less work was getting paid more. I called management on it and they up my mileage rate and when the raises came around a couple months later, I got a substantial raise, the other reporter got none. That wouldn't happen in a union shop.

    At my current union shop, I write, take photos and lay out pages. I offer the paper three skills. There is one guy, who only writes (poorly) and we're both paid the same amount. I can never make more than the grid says I'm allowed to make. And he'll never make less.

    My wages at the union shop are higher than than they ever have been anywhere else. My boss insists (sometimes to my disapproval) I take two consecutive days off every week. That's even if news breaks on my beat or the team I cover plays a makeup game, exhibition contest, whatever.

    I'm not sure what the answer is, other than this:
    If you have good management, you don't need a union.
  9. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    Pete, you sound like a good guy, but I lost count of the logical leaps in that post.

    You'd rather that someone you don't think is very good make less than you rather than you both making more on average? Because you have some evidence that if your co-worker made less, you'd end up with that money rather than it going to fatten the bottom line?

    Your wages are higher than they have been anywhere else, and that's a bad thing?

    You blame your union for your boss making you take two consecutive days off? Your union won't let you work overtime? I sincerely doubt that. I don't doubt that management doesn't want to pay the overtime it agreed to pay in the contract, and that's why you have to take two consecutive days off.

    If you have good management, you'll have a good shop. Little to argue with, there. Nothing that says you can't have good management and a good union, though, my friend.
  10. Danny Noonan

    Danny Noonan Member

    Good and bad. The good. I made excellent money at a union shop in the Northeast. Because I was a 5 years-plus experience person, I got what was called "top minimum." The raises were predictable and printed up in the contract, but they were always very good. Received a raise for every extra bit of duty they gave me. Received extra money for staying later. Always paid overtime. They'd always call on your day off if they needed someone (and I usually avoided the phone unless we needed the money), but never demanded that you come in, except on one occasion when the assistant managing editor, who was a teddy bear and a gem of a human being, called and begged me, and I came in. The extras for working a news desk as a news editor nights/weekends really added up and made it extremely appealing.

    The bad. Many people there had worked there a long time. Lousy employees who did nothing but rim duty still made the same top minimum as you did. There was a caste system in place thanks to the union as to who had what off days, as well as a vacation priority list. When I came there I'd already been in the industry 15 years, but faced at least a 10-year wait to get one weekend day off. One other assistant editor had been there a dozen years and still couldn't get a Sunday off. Despite rising quickly to a "senior" position on the desk, I had the low-man-on-the-totem-pole off days of Tuesday-Wednesday. It worked when my wife juggled her sked to work only three days a week (and having Tuesday-Wednesday off was actually pretty cool for a few months because we'd often go into New York, drive up to Vermont, etc., places would be less crowded than on weekends) but it stopped working when her office made her a full-time Monday-Friday employee and I was stuck at home those days doing chores. Vacation time? Forget summer or other other prime periods. Taken by all those with seniority.

    The bad was why I left. I've got real weekends now, go home by 5 most days, and vacations lined up to enjoy autumn in New England. Yeehah.
  11. Pete Incaviglia

    Pete Incaviglia Active Member


    When I noted the guy making the same as me, all I meant I offer more to the newspaper/management than he does, yet we both make the same amount of money and always will. I can't go into the ME's or Publisher's office and say hey "I deserve a raise." He/she could agree, but point to the contract and say "Well, you and Bob both have four years, and the grid says you both get paid this much." End of story. That's a drawback of unions. I want to be paid what I'm worth in relation to those I work with. If I'm better, I deserve more. I don't think there's anyone who disagree with that. The problem is, whatever the wage on the grid, that's the lowest common denominator. Someone shitty gets that no matter what, someone better isn't paid more. That's all I meant, in a poorly worded way.

    Trust me, I'm grateful of my wage and the union here. But I'm saying is the wage grid overpays the shitty employees and underpays the good ones, who have no hope at a raise.

    As for the two days off, if I'm going to cover a beat - the right way - I should be allowed to cover the beat, two days off in a row or not. I'm not against to splitting my days off this week and taking three of next week or later down the road. The union won't let me. But why miss a game/practice/presser on my beat and then come in the next day to answer phones and return emails all day simply for the sake of two consecutive days off meaning more than covering my beat the right way?
  12. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    We decertified our union a few months ago. It took a majority vote, so apparently we had more people who felt the Guild was not worth having. And we have no complaints at this point.

    Their protections of the rank and file often lead to a conflict with what's good for individual people/departments. No rancor there; just a fact.

    Pete said what I think: If you have good management, you don't need a union. There are, of course, many places where the management is not good.
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