During the past five years, our Local, the NewsGuild of New York, has made an intentional shift in strategy to reposition ourselves as an active, organizing and fighting union. This also meant we began operating at a significant deficit as our needs outpaced our revenue. While this shift has allowed us to begin building a stronger union, we need to ensure we have the resources to keep winning our essential fights.
We all know that there are immense challenges facing journalism and media. We also know it is only with a strong Guild that we are able to safeguard our future. Our fights at Condé Nast, Ziff Davis, Fortune, and with the New York Times, to name a few, demonstrate that. Our Local is committed to shaping a more equitable industry that not only recognizes the value of our work, but also guarantees a strong, collective voice to hold management accountable in each of our forty-two workplaces. A strong union needs resources to take on those necessary fights.
This is why we, the members of the NYGuild’s Executive Committee, are unanimously recommending a revision to our dues structure for the first time in our union’s 88-year history. We want to ensure we have the financial capacity during the next 88 years to continue making our union stronger and better for all of us, and for the members who will continue the fight in the future.
We urge you to Vote Yes to the following changes:
- A temporary dues increase for three years of an additional 0.3654% points, raising the dues rate from 1.3846% to 1.75%
- The permanent elimination of our dues cap, which freezes the collection of dues on income over $140,140 a year
With this in mind, we’re asking you to vote Yes on this dues referendum and stand with us to strengthen and protect our union for years to come.
Quick Key Guide:
Local/Guild = Us! The NewsGuild of New York
International/TNG-CWA = Our parent union, the NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America
Executive Committee = The leadership body of our Local
Dues = The amount paid by you to the Guild as member of the union
Dues Cap = Freeze the collection of dues above a specific salary threshold
For the first time in our Local’s history, the Executive Committee is recommending a referendum to update our dues structure with:
- A temporary dues increase. We propose an increase of an additional 0.3654% points to our dues for the next three years, raising the dues rate from 1.3846% to 1.75%, as an investment in building our power across the industry.
- The permanent elimination of our dues cap. We also recommend dues equity by eliminating the cap, which freezes the collection of dues for those making over $140,140 a year.
To maintain the strength of our contracts and continue to expand our ability to fight for more, we must invest in becoming a striking union. And that means making sure we have the deep financial resources to support contract campaigns and fights.
We’ve spent the past year building up our power as a union. We’ve won incredibly public, huge victories and beat back anti-union tactics at the bargaining table. Those fights aren’t going to stop, and they come at a price. As we grow our ranks, train our members, and gear up to fortify our ability to set industry standards—including setting higher minimum pay rates and championing equity and diversity in our industry—we must be proactive in examining our ability to protect our members years into the future.
Our union’s primary responsibility is to protect and defend our members and enforce our contracts. While our union is stronger than it’s ever been, we need to make sure that strength has sustaining power—for ourselves, our colleagues, and our companies. As we battle media bosses and anti-union law firms, we need to be ready for whatever it takes to win our fights. If you are currently in a first contract fight or have been through bargaining for a new contract, you know the other side spares no expense in attempting to undermine our power to effect change, to negotiate strong contracts, and to effectively advocate for each other. Our industry is under constant attack from a number of sources—from political influence to greedy corporate hedge funds to management’s anti-union campaigns—and we must be ready to combat all of these threats. Media bosses consolidate their resources to make it difficult for us to succeed; to win, we need to do the same.
Never. Our local has never raised its dues. In our entire history, the NewsGuild of New York (even before joining the CWA, our parent union) has maintained a dues percentage at the lowest rate possible under the NewsGuild constitution. While we've worked hard over the years to keep dues low, recently we’ve only been able to do so by relying on our reserves. We’re facing increasingly complex and aggressive anti-worker campaigns at our bargaining tables and in our organizing campaigns as we fight for issues like diversity and inclusion in our workplaces. Voting YES on this dues referendum will guarantee that our union will have the resources necessary to not only to fight, but to win for years to come.
The current dues rate is 1.3846% of a base salary, up to $140,140. This cap has been part of our dues structure for decades. However, as our dues have never increased, a member who earns more than $140,140 (or $2,695 per week) is now effectively paying a lower percentage as a result of the cap. Eliminating the dues cap creates equity among all our dues-paying members.
In addition to helping foster long-term financial growth for the Guild, it’s important that our dues structure is fair and equitable. While an increase in our dues will certainly assist in bolstering our resources, the elimination of the dues cap means that all members are paying their fair share by contributing the same percentage of their salary toward growing our resources. The Executive Committee feels it is important that a member making $200,000 annually is contributing the same percentage as someone making $40,000 annually. Many of the other Locals within the NewsGuild have eliminated or never had a dues cap. And at our Local, this only affects 428 current members.
The vote will be conducted by mail ballot. Ballots will be mailed to each member’s address on file with the Guild on July 16, 2021. Ballots must be received by 5 p.m. August 16, 2021. If you do not receive your ballot or need a replacement, contact Global Election Services (Phone: 1-877-455-9367, E-mail: email@example.com). Replacement ballots must be requested by August 3, 2021. In order to pass, the dues referendum needs simple majority support from voting members. The Guild will inform members of the results immediately after the vote is tallied.
A stronger union benefits us all. The increase in dues will allow us to:
- Fight employers even more fiercely with strong, strike-ready campaigns (because supporting striking workers costs money)
- Increase our collective power by organizing more newsrooms. This will allow us to have stronger industry-wide fights for issues like fair wages; just cause; and diversity, equity and inclusion
- Restore our reserves to have a healthier strike fund for future fights
- Train more stewards and organizers
- Hire additional staff to provide more and better engagement with our members
- Train more stewards and member organizers to build leaders across the Guild
- Extend and expand Guild engagement with all of our members no matter their location.
- Invest in solidarity-building resources (from improved, digital Guild platforms to swag)
Guild members who have signed a card and are currently working in a certified bargaining unit as of July 9, 2021, are eligible to vote. This simply means that you have signed a membership card, are paid up on your dues (if you have a contract), and are currently working in a NewsGuild-represented unit. As per the Local Election Committee Ruling on Eligibility, if you’re not yet paying dues because you’re still negotiating your first contract, as long as you meet the other two criteria, you’re eligible to vote.
Based on Article XVIII(5) of the TNG Constitution, which applies to our Local elections, members who are a part of certified units without current contracts and who do not yet pay dues are eligible to vote in the upcoming referendum. “Such members shall have all rights, privileges and obligations of membership, except the right to vote in Sector referenda and to participate in Sector Conferences.” Sector referenda or Sector Conferences are defined as those that happen at the national TNG level.
This also keeps within past practice in the 2016 and 2019 elections, when units who were certified but not yet paying dues had the opportunity to both run and participate in the Local elections. This practice comes from the belief that once a unit is certified and elects a unit council, they fully take on being a Guild shop and with that the responsibilities and ownership of contributing to the Local union. Therefore, all members in certified shops have the opportunity to participate in Local-wide governance and elections.
The entire membership will vote by mail ballot on this proposed dues change over the course of July and August 2021. If the referendum passes, the new dues structure would be implemented beginning September 15, 2021.
If this referendum vote does not pass, then our current dues structure would remain in place. It would also, however, force our union to make some significant decisions regarding strategy, sustainability, and sacrifice. Voting no on the dues referendum means fewer resources in each of our shops and across the Local. We would need to discuss our ability to fight to keep contractual benefits and protections in place. Moreover, we would have to be more strategic in how we organize, train and hire. Ultimately, however, if our emergency fund — which makes up just a portion of the Guild's reserves — dips below $500,000, our Local would institute an immediate 1% dues increase — as mandated by our bylaws (Article 9, Section 2 of our constitution). A 1% increase is a significant jump compared to our 0.3654% recommendation.
The Executive Committee doesn’t recommend this increase lightly. Our union is stronger than it’s ever been, and we want to make certain we’re ensuring that our union is able to advocate for and protect journalists and media workers well into the future.
Currently, if your shop has a contract, you’re paying 1.3846% of your base salary, the lowest dues rate allowed by our constitution. We’re proposing an increase of just 0.3654% of your base salary. You can see what that actually looks like with this dues calculator we’ve created. If you have additional questions, please reach out to your Local Representative.
While not much higher than what we’re paying now, 1.75% is comparable to the dues rates at other TNG locals. As the leading media union, the NewsGuild of New York must be able to fight for and set the standards we want to work under. Our successes ripple across the industry, inspiring our colleagues and pushing back against media bosses everywhere. After much discussion, we agreed that 1.75% would be most beneficial to our membership in the long-term as we focus on the fights to come, the union we need to be, and how we can foster financial sustainability and growth.
As a Local of the CWA, we contribute close to 20% of our dues revenue so that we have the robust resources of our parent union available to us. This payment, which is a fixed per-cap rate based on our membership count, is mandated by the CWA constitution. The resources we receive include Strategic Initiative Funds (think of them as internal grants) for further organizing and additional temporary hires to support those campaigns. We also have access to CWA’s robust strike benefit program, including COBRA reimbursement, weekly stipend payments, and emergency reimbursements. Having access to these resources will be critical as we continue to fight for strong contracts.
This is not uncommon—staff costs are often the largest expense for strong, fighting unions. From our Local Representatives to our Organizers and Mobilizers and to the administrative staff behind the scenes, staff are the ones that make sure our union is functioning day-to-day.
Some Guild locals do not have paid, full-time staff, relying entirely on the national or on internal volunteer structures to support the membership. Without staff, there’s less support in strategy, bargaining, mobilizing, and overall engagement with colleagues. With the addition of staff over the years, we’ve been able to win bigger fights and organize hundreds of new members. Guild staff plays a huge role in our victories and are a critical pillar to help guide our collective strength. Expanding staff also extends our ability to coach, guide, and train member leaders across our shops—in other words, to make each of our units stronger internally, which is critical for successful contract campaigns.
Members in new units start paying dues once their first contract has been negotiated and ratified. At present, we are negotiating first contracts for approximately 10 newly-organized shops. While newly-organized Guild members will eventually pay into the system, negotiating great contracts takes time—on average 12 to 18 months. We don’t want to lower our standards for what constitutes a good contract just to start collecting dues. Just as any campaign in an already established shop takes resources, so does organizing and bargaining in our new units.
One of our principal values as a union and as a community is that we support each other by laying the groundwork for those who follow—whether through organizing a new workplace or by joining an existing Contract Action Team. Each successive generation of media professionals is able to build on that wealth of knowledge and experience to succeed—and pay it forward to the next generation of Guild activists.
The Executive Committee voted to delay ballots being sent to give members across the Local more time to understand the financial proposal being presented. Ballots will now be sent on July 16 and will be due back on August 16. If the members vote to approve the changes to the dues, the Local plans to implement the temporary increase and permanent cap removal on September 15.
While the Executive Committee stands by the original proposal for a permanent increase, this temporary increase will get us through a period of deficit spending while many of our new shops fight for recognition and work to win their first contracts. The Executive Committee heard member concerns regarding a permanent increase and took them into consideration when changing the dues rate increase from a permanent one to a temporary increase. While the increase proposed is now temporary, the cap removal will remain permanent.
The Executive Committee at that time will have to evaluate the Guild’s finances to decide whether to let the increase sunset out or to put out another referendum requesting either a permanent or another temporary increase.
While the bylaws may allow the Executive Committee to consider moving forward with an implemented temporary increase (an assessment), federal labor law requires all dues increases to be voted on by the full membership.
The vote will be conducted by mail ballot. Ballots will be mailed to each member’s address on file with the Guild on July 16, 2021. Ballots must be received by 5 p.m. on August 16, 2021. Replacement ballots must be requested by August 3, 2021. In order to pass, the dues referendum needs simple majority support from voting members. The Guild will inform members of the results immediately after the vote is tallied.
You should update your address by July 9 in the member portal or by emailing Tim Try at firstname.lastname@example.org. After July 9, you can contact Global Election Services to update or request a replacement ballot. (Phone: 1-877-455-9367, E-mail: email@example.com)
The timeline is as follows:
- July, 16, 2021: Ballots will be mailed to each member’s address on file with the Guild.
- August 3, 2021: Replacement ballot request deadline.
- August 16, 2021: Ballots must be received by Global Election Services.
- August 17, 2021: Ballots will be counted.
- September 15, 2021: Should the vote pass, the increase will go into effect on this date.
If you do not receive your ballot or need a replacement, contact Global Election Services (Phone: 1-877-455-9367, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).