We Need the Union More Than Ever

09/06/2017

After President Donald Trump’s vitriolic rally in Phoenix last month, CNN’s Sara Murray tweeted, “There are some who treat Trump’s ‘fake news’ diatribes seriously.”

She continued, “Trump knows what he’s saying is false. People close to him know it puts journalists at risk just for doing their jobs. He does it anyway.” 

These comments stemmed from Trump’s anger-fueled rant, when he said, “It’s time to expose the media … for their role in fomenting divisions in the country.” And, “[The media] are trying to take away our history and heritage … we’re smart people and these are truly dishonest people.”

What’s frightening to me isn’t just our president’s shocking, naive disregard for the First Amendment. What’s scary—truly horrifying—is that his attitude, his ideals, are sticking with about one-third of the population, according to polls. 

Though I don’t believe any of us in the media are sitting idly by as this happens, we can’t afford to merely demonstrate our anger through opinion pieces or Twitter storms. We must organize and we must mobilize. I cannot overstate this enough. Solidarity in numbers. Safety in numbers. This administration has reinforced two things: the value and critical need for quality journalism and the value and critical need for unionism.

Last month I attended the TNG-CWA Sector Conference in Pittsburgh, Pa. (The Communication Workers of America is the NewsGuild’s parent union.) Rank-and-file members from TNG locals as well as thousands of communication workers from across the country voted to approve and support reports from the National Civil Rights and Equity Committee and the National Women’s Committee; we recognized that transgender rights are human rights; we deepened our commitment to protecting LGBTQI+ workers; and we affirmed the importance of journalism and the fact that media professionals need stronger protections. 

Unanimously, CWA members voted for the Right to Report and the People’s Right to Know resolution that states, “When the United States’ founding fathers wrote the Constitution, the very first amendment they proposed was one to protect a free press. But two and half centuries later, that concept and the people who pursue it are under attack and sometimes face physical assault.” You can read more here

The resolution puts the power of the CWA-TNG behind us. The union supports our effort to fight the attacks on journalism. It supports federal and state legislation that would make it a felony to assault members of the press and insure that we be allowed to cover public events, protests and government functions without fear of intimidation.  

You now have all of CWA-TNG—that’s 700,000 people—standing behind you, ready to defend and fight for you as journalists. This is the power of the labor movement.

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