Time Inc. activist wins Keenan Award; presentation June 20
Bernice Rohret, the Guild’s membership chair at Time Inc., was named the 2013 winner of the Guild’s Keenan Award for her relentless efforts to sign up new members at the unit’s open shop.
The award will be presented at a meeting open to all Guild members on Thursday, June 20 at 6:30 p.m. The Guild’s semi-annual membership meeting also will feature reports from Local Chair Karen Rohan, President Bill O’Meara and Secretary-Treasurer Peter Szekely. Light refreshments will be served.
After sifting through several high-quality nominees at its meeting on June 13, the Guild’s Administrative Committee settled on Rohret, a Sports Illustrated copy editor and longtime activist who earlier this year recruited members who had never been active before for a letter-writing campaign to every nonmember in the Time Inc. unit.
In their letter of nomination, four of Rohret’s colleagues cited her “unparalleled” dedication to the very difficult and often frustrating challenge of trying to convince employees who already reap the benefits of a contract and representation that they should pay their share of dues. The contract with Time Inc. is one of only two of the Guild’s 20 agreements with 18 employers to contain an open shop provision.
To take her message to the unit’s nonmembers, Rohret often goes office to office, “facing sometimes hostile managers – one of whom once kicked her off the floor – and the often hostile to indifferent reactions of the Guild-represented people she is talking to,” they said.
Rohret, the unit’s first vice chair, is the 20th winner of the Keenan Award. She also serves on the Guild’s Time Inc. bargaining and grievance committees.
In assessing the nominees for this year’s Thomas M. Keenan Newspaper Guild of New York Service Award, the Administrative Committee was tasked with selecting the nominee who “has performed above and beyond the call of duty in service to the New York Local, and best exemplifies the ideals of a true labor leader, in the spirit of Tom Keenan.”
Tom Keenan, a longtime activist, chaired The Times unit for 14 years, longer than anyone else, before joining the Guild staff as a representative in 1998. The award bearing his name was established 1999, after Keenan was stricken with cancer. He died in December 2000.
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