Forward organizer's Keenan Award tops meeting agenda


The 2012 Tom Keenan Award, won by the man who led the drive that brought Guild representation to the Jewish Forward's business employees, will highlight the Guild's semi-annual membership meeting on Tuesday, June 26.

Also to be discussed at Tuesday’s meeting at 6:15 p.m. at Guild headquarters, 1501 Broadway, Suite 708 (between 43rd and 44th Streets) are the Guild’s recent organizing of Kaplan English teachers, ongoing contract talks at The New York Times and Consumer Reports, the unprecedented broad salvo of discipline against Guild members at Thomson Reuters and the plan to ship Standard & Poor’s work offshore. These issues and more will be covered in reports by Guild President Bill O’Meara, Secretary-Treasurer Peter Szekely and Local Chairperson Ed Fannon.

Light refreshments will be served at the meeting.

This year’s Keenan Award winner, Stephen Soule, led an organizing drive at the business unit of the Forward Association, where the Guild already represents the editorial employees of the English-language Jewish Forward and a non-editorial unit of the Yiddish-language Forward.

The award, named after a long-time Times unit chair and Guild representative who died in 2000, is given annually to the individual who “has performed over and beyond the call of duty in service to the New York Local, and best exemplifies the ideals of a true leader in the spirit of Tom Keenan.” Soule, who was selected by the Guild’s Administrative Committee on Tuesday, becomes the 19th winner of the award, which was created while Keenan was still alive in 1999.

An activist whose efforts and selflessness gave representation to his co-workers at The Forward

When the Guild filed with the National Labor Relations Board for an election to represent the Forward’s business employees last year, management challenged Soule’s position of circulation director, claiming it was supervisory and therefore not entitled to union representation. After Soule gave clear and convincing testimony to the contrary, the NLRB ruled in our favor.

Soule was elected as the first chairperson of the new Forward unit and chaired the negotiating committee that bargained its first contract earlier this year. In making its proposal for a contract, Forward management announced a reorganizing plan that would eliminate Soule’s job.

Through rigorous negotiations, it was agreed that Soule would be placed into a new promotional position in the newly organized Forward unit. The deal that was struck, however, provided that he had to serve a probationary period in the new position, but gave the Guild the right to arbitrate his dismissal if he didn’t pass the probation.

The day before Soule’s probation was due to end, Forward management terminated him, saying it was eliminating his new position. The Guild is challenging Soule’s dismissal in arbitration.

The entire membership of the Forward business unit nominated Soule for the Keenan award.

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