Time Inc.'s Jill Jaroff is winner of the Guild's 2011 Keenan Award


Presentation set for June 28 meeting

Jill Jaroff, who stepped up to fill a leadership void at the Time Inc. unit and went on to improve the working lives of her Guild-represented co-workers by uncovering previously overlooked contract provisions, is the winner of the 2011 Thomas M. Keenan Newspaper Guild of New York Service Award, the Guild announced on Tuesday.

Jaroff, who received three separate nominations from her fellow Guild members at Time Inc., was chosen by the Guild’s Administrative Committee last Thursday. The award will be presented to her at a meeting open to all Guild members on Tuesday, June 28.

The annual award is named after Tom Keenan, a former unit chairperson at The New York Times, who died in December 2000 after a long battle with cancer. It recognizes the member 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.” Nominations for this year’s award were open from May 20 through June 3.

Jaroff, a Sports Illustrated copy editor, succeeded John Shostrom last November as unit chair at Time Inc., one of the Guild’s few open shops and one where maintaining members is always a challenge and union activism, including bargaining and enforcing contracts, is left to a dedicated few.

“She has done and is doing an amazing job, at a time when it is more difficult than ever to deal with Time Inc.,” said one of the members who nominated her.

A single mother of a third grader, Jaroff was initially reluctant to add a union role to her list of responsibilities. But once she decided to do so, she did it with a passion.

“A lawyer who spent years as a public defender, she is now defending our contract with the utmost vigor and has found several crucial, often overlooked provisions that have led to challenges to company practice,” said another member who nominated her.

Since becoming unit chair, Jaroff discovered that the company’s interns were being underpaid and led a successful effort to raise their pay to the contract minimum, with back pay. Previously, while serving on a negotiating committee, her careful research to resolve a contract dispute helped get higher annual payments for many employees.

Co-workers praised Jaroff for her close reading of the contract and attention to detail – a quality not always found in abundance in the journalistic community – as well as her ability to deal with management in a “low-key, civilized manner” and her efforts to reach out Guild-covered employees who are not members.

“She impresses everyone she comes in contact with, and her concern is always where it should be – with the needs of the individual employee,” said still another nominator.

Jaroff becomes the 18th recipient of the Keenan Award since it was created in 1999.

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