eNewsletter • AUTUMN 2015

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Amanda Holpuch, 24, a reporter with The Guardian US, is the star of an organizing video for The NewsGuild-CWA.

Digital media workers flocking to unions

A wave of organizing victories has been sweeping through 21st Century newsrooms in North America as media workers seek to bolster their journalism and democratize their 24/7 workplaces.

CWA Canada’s counterpart in the United States, The NewsGuild (TNG), has recently begun representing employees at Al Jazeera America and The Guardian US. Others that have elected to unionize include Gawker, Salon and Vice Media.

Bernie Lunzer, president of TNG-CWA, said the growing interest among digital journalists in gaining a voice at work is “a wonderful development” and the successful organizing drives are spawning even more campaigns. To better connect with curious workers, the Guild in September launched a special website, “The Voice for Digital Journalists.”

He explained in a recent column that more than 2,000 digital media workers and 20,000 other journalists chose TNG because “no other union has more than 80 years’ experience representing journalists, understanding their unique needs and concerns, and helping them bargain contracts.”

Equally important, no other media union on the continent has the financial resources of the 500,000-member Communications Workers of America.

“We don’t go into an organizing drive without committing ourselves and all our resources, skill and experience to negotiating a fair first contract,” said Lunzer. As a sector of CWA, the Guild has access to nearly a half-billion dollars, which “makes it possible to run public campaigns when our members need that kind of support in organizing or bargaining.”

CWA Canada has also revved up its outreach to digital media workers. Many have become members by signing up with the Freelance branch of the Canadian Media Guild, the union’s largest Local.

Another 550 students, volunteer and precarious (intern, temporary, part-time) media workers have become CWA Canada Associate Members, reports co-ordinator Katherine Lapointe. These members gain access (for free) to training, mentoring, paid freelance and internship work, information on their rights as workers and networking opportunities.

The associate members have been involved in organizing several Media Workers Forums, the most recent in Toronto on Nov. 14. (See story in this edition of the CWeh! Canada newsletter.)

In October, several associate members, including Errol Salamon, attended the Media Workers Unite founding convention in Louisville, Kentucky. It was a gathering of journalists, organizers, activists and academics from four countries to advance the movement to unionize digital media workers. His report was filed to The Storyboard,of which CWA Canada is a backer.

Are you a digital media worker who's interested in exploring how a union can bring you fairness and high standards? If so, you can communicate in confidence with Karen Wirsig, an organizer on staff at the Canadian Media Guild. Email: karen@cmg.ca Call: 1-800-465-4149.