After re-election, Guild leaders look ahead to a unified future
We've just come through a vigorously fought election in which we were chosen to continue leading the Guild. We’re very grateful for that. We know our margin of victory was fairly slim.
To the 53 percent of voting members who cast their ballots for us, thank you. We'll do our best to live up to your high expectations for us to lead our union in these challenging times. To the 47 percent of voting members who wanted to go in a different direction, we know we have work to do. We need to show you that we’re capable, that we’re committed to keeping our union strong and that we want you to be a part of the discussion about the Guild’s future.
And to the vast majority of you, the 75 percent of members who didn't vote at all, you are our biggest challenge. We need to help you to see that the Guild is a relevant, if not vital, part of your working life, that you’re much better off because you have our union and that deciding who leads it is important enough that you should want to take part in the process.
Now that the election is over, we hope to return our focus to improving the working lives of all Guild members, building a stronger union and positioning the Guild as an important player in the journalism community here in America’s media capital.
Elections are often seen in our society as a hallmark of democracy, a cleansing process that distills the collective will and injects it into the top levels of government and institutions at regular intervals.
In the labor movement, however, contested elections also have a downside. They can distract union officers and members from their primary mission and leave deep scars and lasting ill will that hamper unions’ effectiveness.
During the previous Guild leadership contest in 1982, our local was torn by factionalism. Members and officers distrusted the motives of other members and officers, ulterior motives were always suspected, meetings often turned into accusatory shouting matches and it was all an amusing sideshow for our employers.
We pledge to you that we will do everything in our power not to let that happen. Lingering resentment and unfounded suspicion of one another’s motives would be counterproductive and potentially destructive at a time when we need to show strength and unity.
Does the absence of a contested election mean our union’s democracy was hibernating for 31 years? Not at all. The Guild strives for consensus in everything we do. In addition to holding votes on all new contracts, we rely on online surveys, the wisdom of unit activists and suggestions from any member willing to contribute. We welcome healthy debates over a range of sincere ideas and opinions. That’s democracy too.
We know we don’t have all the answers. There’s still a lot left to do – expanding our presence among New York news organizations, offering members more training opportunities and using more sophisticated communications that include social media, to name just a few.
When we face our common adversaries at the bargaining table, and as we strive to save the middle class in the news business and the other industries where Guild members work, we'll need a unified front and all the ideas, talent and help we can get. We're grateful to have been given the honor of leading our local and we're ready to move forward.
– Bill O'Meara, President
– Peter Szekely, Secretary-Treasurer
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