Guild Creates Organizing Fund for Long-Term Recruiting Effort
With the economy shrinking and the news business in turmoil, the Newspaper Guild of New York on Tuesday created an organizing fund aimed at increasing its presence in the media-dense city and securing its future as an advocate for news employees and their craft.
The Local’s policy-making Executive Committee voted unanimously at its November meeting to launch the Organizing Fund with an initial $100,000.
The Executive Committee also agreed to fund its organizing program with $60,000 a year, starting in 2009, that will be diverted from monthly contributions that have long been made to the Local’s Emergency Fund, which the committee agreed was adequately funded for now.
The Local is planning to hire a full-time organizer and intends to seek additional funding from its parent union, the Communications Workers of America, and other sources.
The creation of the Organizing Fund and the financial commitment to it mark the first time in recent history that the New York Guild has dedicated itself to organizing on a sustained basis. In past efforts, including successful drives like the one that brought union benefits to Hudson News workers, organizers were hired on a project-by-project basis.
“This is going to be an enormous undertaking,” said New York Guild President Bill O’Meara. “But we’re not going to have much of a future if we don’t grow. There’s a huge frontier of nonunion media workers in New York who’d like better working lives. And that’s what we’re here for.”
The Local’s move to set up a permanent organizing infrastructure comes amid improved chances for enactment of the Employee Free Choice Act, which has the support of President-elect Barack Obama and majorities in both houses of the incoming Congress. The act would make it easier and less risky for workers to organize by enabling them to get a union simply by having a majority of them sign cards or a petition declaring their support for one, instead of going through a lengthy and often-contentious election.
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