Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Two Job Openings at the Daily News

As one of the provisions of the contract, whenever a job comes open in the newsroom, they notify me as the guild steward so I can spread the word to members interested in applying. They also hold the jobs for 10 days to give anyone interested internally to get together an application. These are the same positions posted on the wall next to our bulletin board by the copier, but if you miss 'em there, I'm going to start posting them to the blog just to let as many people know as possible.

So here ya go:
1.) Features Copy Desk: copy editor with three years' experience on a daily paper. M-F, 9:30 am to 6:30 p.m. Duties include lifestyle, entertainment, food and travel editing, wire duties for NYT Wire and LANG sister papers. Apply in writing to Sharyn Betz by 5 p.m., Oct. 6; Supply resume, names, addresses and phone numbers of 3 recent work references.

2.) Sports Copy Desk: copy editor wtih 1 year of experience, college degree required, journalism preferred. Hours: 40 per week, includes nights and weekends. Duties include copy, headline writing, some layout and pagination. Apply in writing to Jon Clifford by 5 p.m., Oct. 6; Supply resume, samples of editing work, names, addresses and phone numbers of three most recent immediate supervisors. No phone calls accepted.

If you're not interested, tell your friends and spread the word-- those departments need people badly, so the quicker we can get the word out on this, the better off we'll all be. While it's not the union's job to serve as a recruiting service for the company, this is one area where we can work together and help both sides out.

With that in mind, I'd like to get your input. With that current 10 day waiting period that allows us to spread the word, that can some times hold up hiring. In the old days, unions needed that in a contract to give them some lead time to let members know about opportunities, but with and sites like that, the whole job search process has become a lot different.

I'm trying to find a way to work with Ron to streamline the process, so we still have a fair crack at open positions, but also so they aren't needlessly hamstrung during the key time to get new people in. I'd like to get your thoughts on what would be a better way to handle things, so if you've got anything you'd like to contribute, please let me know. Thanks a bunch.



For those of you who are out of the office, my apologies for not sending along the address to send your dues checks to. As a reminder, make a check payable to CWA 9400 for 2.25 times your hourly wage and mail it to:
CWA local 9400- attn: Vicki DiPaolo
7844 Rosecrans Ave.
Paramount, Ca. 90723
Those of you who are in Woodland Hills, you can either mail the checks in or give them to me by Friday. Many thanks.

Weekly Roundup

Hey Guys,

Just wanted to pass along some various news on the union front. Busy times, but good ones, so I'll get right to it.

First off, let's start with the important stuff: I just got an email from Jennifer and Will Radcliffe, who rode out the storm in Houston, enduring just some wind and rain and an unusual work schedule. Les Jacobs also passed the word that his family, who hails from there, came through just fine, as well. Luckily, the damage wasn't as bad as they were initially predicting, so let's all give thanks for that one.

And speaking of storm-related news, if you missed the messages on Coyote, the charity potluck on Friday, combined with the dessert day and poker night have raised nearly $1,000 for hurricane-afflicted folks. This wasn't a union thing or a management thing, it was just the right thing to do. I can't say enough good things about Naush, Josh, Lisa and everyone else who contributed money, food, or ideas-- you guys have done a great thing and deserve tremendous credit.

Switching gears, the latest report I've got from the local on paying the dues electronically is that we'll likely find a way, but it'll take a few more weeks, at least. We're investigating the Electronic Funds Transfer Program, which allows banks to send money directly to groups like unions, the same way you pay your power bill or renew your magazine subscriptions automatically.

Since that'll take awhile, I'll come around and hand collect the dues for September this week from those of you who haven't already paid. If you could have checks by Thursday, that would be fantastic. Please make them out to CWA 9400 and don't forget they're now back to the standard rate of 2.25 times your hourly wage. Due to the paycheck screwup on the last batch, just divide your gross wages by 40, then multiply that number by 2.25 (sorry for the hassle on that-- once we get the new system in place, it'll be much more smooth).

And once again, thanks to all you guys for stepping up to pay the standard rate with no complaints. I know it's a financial bite, especially after we've all enjoyed the discount for the past two years. I certainly feel it, too, but I've been really impressed that everyone's been so understanding. There were initially some fears that we'd lose some members over this, but I'm proud to report that so far, not a single person's left the group. You guys are the best.

Switching gears once again, I wanted to direct you folks to two fantastic pieces of writing this week and one slick photo by our members. Glenn was in his usual fine form with a killer Q&A with Jodie Foster on Friday, accompanied by a cool portrait by David. They beat the pants of the Times' story, taking it far from the standard realm of actor interviews and creating a truly memorable package. Also, for on-the-spot reporting, Lisa Sodders had a very nice one today on the anti-war protest. It can be hard to capture the scope and emotion of things like that, especially with the time and space constraints of a daily story, but that story really kept my attention during breakfast today.

And hey, if anyone else spots good work (especially headlines and designs, which I'm less likely to be able to trace back to the creator, but are equally important) out there and wants to see it recognized here, let me know. I'm by no means an expert, I just like to spread the word when stuff by our members catches my eye.

Ok, this has run long again, so I'll end with one final note of good news-- our friend and former officemate Andrea Cavanaugh got herself hitched yesterday in Oceanside. She and her new husband Dominic have been dating for four years and she tells me that he's one fantastic chef. Congratulations are in order for the both of them.

See ya 'round-- thanks for your time and support, as always.


Sunday, September 18, 2005

Sunday Night Musings

Hey Guys,

Another week, come and gone and as my dinner takes its frustrating time cooking, I figured I'd steal a moment to update y'all on what's been going down in our little world. Thanks to you who could make it out to Happy Hour on Thursday-- though it was a small turnout, it was still a good time. We'll have another one soon, hopefully at a time that works more conveniently.

Getting the ball rolling, I'm pleased to announce that we can welcome Evan Henerson of the features department to our ranks. A six-year Daily Newser, he's covered everything from health to theater to awards shows, including one of the best Father's Day articles I've ever read about his son a couple years ago. Like many of us, he joined up because of family connections and the belief that it's just the right thing to do. Welcome, Evan, we're glad to have you with us and look forward to workin' with you.

Now that we've got the contract ratified, we're going to have to work hard to keep bringing in new members like Evan. There's gotta be more folks out there like him, who believe in the cause, but just haven't filled out a blue card yet for whatever reason. Keep spreading the word and encouraging people to get involved-- we're going to need as much help as we can get in coming years.

On the dues front, I'm working with both Vicki and our secretary-treasurer to find some solution so we can do some sort of an automatic deduction electronically. That seemed to be most convenient for everyone, so once we learn a little more about the particulars, I'll let you know. Hopefully, we'll have it up and running soon, so if you can indulge me another week of patience, we can get rolling with that.

In response to your concerns, I've been talking to both Melissa and Ron lately about staff levels, particularly in Sports and Features. Ron says he's looking to fill all the open positions (i.e. all the people who've recently left) and Melissa's been actively recruiting. We've been trying to streamline the posting process, as well, so as soon as someone gives notice, the ball will start rolling to advertise the job here, then open up to outside candidates. Hopefully, that'll help get those slots filled as quickly as possible to get you guys help faster.

I know things are tough right now-- they usually are, in one form or another, at the DN-- but management seems sincere about filling the gaps quickly. It'll be a strain until they do, particularly for you guys on the production side, but Melissa assures me that help's on the way. Knowing what I do of her, you can count on her to live up to her word.

Additionally, after a member raised a question about we'll have an equal crack at management positions when they come open, I did some asking around. Though that hadn't been the case in the past, I talked to Jim Janiga and he agreed that we should get word of those jobs when they're open, giving us a shot at moving up along the ladder, too. While we'll certainly miss any of you guys who make the jump to management, it's nice to know that we've got an equal shot now, too.

As the final thought for this message, I'd like to remind people that if they're frustrated with the way things are at work, they should speak up about it. There's a lot of things that happen here, and in any work place, that happen just because, well, that's how they've always been done. If you don't raise questions about it, whether it's the way your stories are edited, your photos are cropped, or your schedule, it'll probably stay that way.

This isn't a question of whining versus being dependable, either. I've found that lots of times, these problems arise simply because the folks in charge are distracted by other things and don't consider how policies will impact us all. If you bring it up politely, but firmly, they're often happy to make the changes once they're aware of the problem. And if that doesn't work, that's where we come in, to advocate change with a louder voice.

Like I said, this applies to everyone, but it's particularly important in the staffing situations. If you guys are feeling overworked (beyond the fact that we're all overworked), let your managers know. If you don't, they'll just get used to getting by with fewer people. We're all pretty talented folks, able to produce a lot of top-notch work without many resources, but we could also do a lot better if we were able to spread the work out more evenly. So if you're feeling perpetually crunched, tell your manager-- and tell us, too. The more voices they hear, the better your chance is to get them to dole out the dollars to help fix the situation.

Alright, I've chewed through plenty of your weekend time now, so I'll knock off. Keep up the good work and pat yourselves on the back-- the paper's been looking pretty damn good lately. That's because of you guys, the ones who make it happen every day.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Some Guy Mouths Off.

Hey Gang,

Greg Hernandez called to my attention this story posted on Romanesko: . "I bet it'll really make your blood boil," he said, which of course made me quite interested in what it had to say. Give it a read yourself and if you've got the time, ponder what Mr. Fiedler's yakking about.

Normally, I'd say it's not worth wasting more than about three seconds of your precious time, but I did think it set up some interesting contrasts to the Daily News and what we've managed to put together. Fiedler just canned a well-regarded employee under dubious circumstances, now his employees realize that they need some protection. And so, naturally, they're looking to The Newspaper Guild, part of our CWA umbrella.

So Fiedler has taken this opportunity to run his mouth about how unions ensure a mediocre workplace and promote laziness. They drag out the same tired arguments and promote the out-and-out lies about unions preventing companies from rewarding hard work and paying bonuses.

Well, if they can't think of a place where having a union's made the paper better, they can look here at the Daily News as their first example. As a result of this group that we've worked so hard to put together, we're paid better, treated better and enjoy a stronger relationship with our coworkers and managers than we have for years. The union's successfully been able to create a culture that makes the Daily News more than just a place to draw a paycheck, but one where we have a sense of common goals and interests. Through our open dialogue with managers, we've worked hard to make this place run more smoothly and efficiently, resulting in as good a paper as we've ever put out.

As far as this nonsense about unions preventing companies from paying bonuses or rewarding good performance, that's hogwash. I've seen plenty of people who are members of this union get both merit pay and bonuses. Sure, it's not a huge payout, but it's certainly not the union that's holding that money back. We applaud every time the company recognizes hard work and encourage them to do so richly. Regardless of what Mr. Diaz suggests, a good union will never stand in the way of workers' rewards.

So perhaps Mr. Fiedler would like to have a look at what all we've accomplished here, then re-think his jackass comments about what a union can do for both workers and a company. And if he's still looking for a few of the crummy outfits that stoop so low as to let the guild into their workplace, he can check out places like the New York Times and Washington Post. If only the union weren't holding them back, those places could really make something of themselves.

Alright, that's enough of getting riled up for one evening. Thanks for listening and hope to see y'all at happy hour.


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Three Quick Things

Good Evening Everyone,

Just wanted to throw some stuff out there to everyone as reminders and updates of what all's going on in unionland...

First off, cheers to all who participated in Josh Kleinbaum's hurricane relief poker tournament on Thursday night. He got a great turnout of both union and management, with Naush Boghossian whittling down the competition to take home a hard-won first place. When she won the final hand, those of you out in Ventura and Palmdale alike probably heard her victory cheer.

With your help and donations of both food and prizes (including the universally coveted Lisa Sodders dessert and not-so-coveted possible tsunami map of Long Beach), Josh raised $300 to go to the Red Cross. Since the Daily News disappointingly declined to match the money or even give a nominal donation, the money will be donated via Yahoo!, which does match the dollars. We all owe him a big thanks for coordinating it, as well as kudos to former member Nicole Sunkes, who'll handle the donating through her new job. Good work to everyone who lent a hand

Secondly, we're going to have a happy hour/info meeting on Thursday, once again at El Torito on Canoga. We're hoping to get a few new faces who aren't yet members, so we can explain the particulars of the contract to them and get their input on where we go from here-- spread the word that we'll be there at 6 p.m. until 7:30 or 8 p.m.ish, with appetizers and drinks on us. As always, we'd love to see you there, too, for the collegial atmosphere we've all grown to love.

And lastly, thanks for the suggestions on how to pay the dues going forward. I'm working on a couple solutions and should have an answer for you within a few days or so. Thanks for your patience and stay tuned...

That oughtta do it for this Sunday evening. Hope to see you all Thursday night and keep up the fine work y'all put in every day.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Cell Phone Stuff

Hey Everyone,

Most of you probably saw Ron's message today regarding the new cell phone policy, but I wanted to spread the word if you didn't and wanted to clear things up if there's any confusion.

We're expecting that this will mainly apply to reporters, but if there are other people who use their phones for work, by all means, speak up. The way Ron's looking at it, which seems reasonable to me, is that there'll be two kinds of people, occasional users and those who'll constantly use their phone for work. Some of you have company issued phones already (or the photographers' Nextel units)-- none of this will apply to you guys, you'll keep using the gear you've got.

For the occasional user, Ron's looking at the $5 per pay period as a way to compensate you if for some reason you're required to use your phone-- your editor calls you a lot more than usual, taking up minutes; there's a disaster; you've got to take calls away from your desk, etc. He said that if it goes beyond the $5 mark, we could probably arrange it so you could use the allowance for multiple pay periods, ensuring that whatever your unusual bill comes out to, you'll be covered.

For the perpetual user, you'd receive the $5 every pay period and use that to offset the costs of having the phone all the time. If you do a lot of communication with the office or do phone interviews out in the field, this would more likely be the choice for you. The flip side to this is that if you put in for this, you'll be expected to usually be available by phone.

In conversations with you guys, it seems like we had a fair amount of people in both categories. Whichever one fits you best, talk to your editor and let them know how you'd like to be handled. If you've got a legitimate need to be compensated, then they should recognize that and there should be no problem-- let us know if one arises.

And as a final thought, while it's important that everyone who needs this takes advantage of it, we all need to be reasonable. If you're not using your phone much, don't request reimbursement-- that money all comes out of the same budget that pays for everything else around here, so we've got to use it wisely.

Alright, enough of that-- talk to your managers, they'll pass the info along to Ron and we should be good to go. Thanks for your help.


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Today and the Future


Starting today, we're all getting a raise. The results of the contract ratification vote came back on Friday and I'm pleased to announce they were a stunningly unanimous 'yes.' This is extremely rare, to have everyone on the same page on a contract vote, something that demonstrates that this is a different bunch here. Somehow it's quite fitting that it worked out that our new contract starts off on Labor Day weekend, a day that unions fought for long ago to remind America of the need for fair working conditions.

We'll be supplying everyone with a copy of the new contract, but in the meantime, let me review the highlights. Most importantly, we'll all enjoy a 2.25 percent annual raise for the next three and a half years, working out to more than 9 percent over the life of the contract, and the company still has the requirement to pay merit on top of that. Night shift folks will get a bump in their differential from $3.30 per night to $3.50. People who use their cell phones for work will get $120 a year to offset your bills. If you want to attend professional conferences or training, with a manager's approval, the company will now foot the bill.

We gave away absolutely nothing.

There was also an enhancement that I misstated in the last series of emails, and while I'm sorry I made the mistake, I'm glad it worked out this way. Photographers will now get $37.50 per day in car allowance, rather than the $35 or so you were getting before-- due to a miscommunication, we thought we were only able to maintain the current level, but it turns out we were able to get a significant increase. This is an unprecedented boost in your compensation, something that would not have been possible without your intelligent, passionate arguments for why you deserved it.

Everyone who's a member of this fine union deserves credit for these victories, but let me single out a few who went above and beyond in putting them together.

First off, we cannot thank Kerry Kandel enough for her amazing work at the bargaining table. When negotiating, she had a clear, decisive voice that the company was rarely able to dispute or criticize. Behind closed doors, she was a whiz with a Casio calculator, running numbers with ease to figure out exactly what deals were fair and what we could hope for. For the past three years, she's been one of our staunchest, most passionate supporters and with her sharp mind, we're immeasurably stronger and smarter as a union.

Secondly, Vicki DiPaolo, vice president of CWA 9400, has done a fantastic job in helping us grow from a struggling group of idealists into a larger, more capable union able to serve the folks who make the Daily News the great paper that it is. As we've grown, she's been able to deliver a fantastic amount of support from the local, without which, we could not have gotten here. Just as importantly, her strong presence at the table, good advice behind the scenes and strong rapport with the company's negotiators went a very long way in delivering this deal.

Also, every member of the Contract Committee, who gave up their nights and free time to help bring in new members and craft our strategy, deserves our thanks. Lisa, Jason, Ben, Josh, Rachel, Evan, Alex, and up until the day she departed for a better gig in Texas, Jennifer, worked incredibly hard to put our plans in motion. John McCoy helped deliver a key strategic bargaining chip at the table, one which we'll be talking about frequently in coming months. Richard Perkins, who's only been a member for a few months, has become an invaluable set of eyes and ears. Fred Shuster spoke up and pushed us to always strive for something better. Evan Yee showed us the way to go with his years of dedicated stewardship and service. And Dana Bartholomew, who gnashed his teeth mightily and served as the great champion of the cell phone reimbursement, is directly responsible for that $120 bucks you phone users will be getting.

If I've forgotten anyone, it's not because you didn't make a difference; it's that I ain't slept much lately and that you're all such hard workers, it's difficult to single people out of a group where everyone pitches in.

But that's not it-- while people like the Contract Committee and especially Kerry and I may be the face of the union, everyone in this group is its heart. To everyone who's ever gone to a meeting, offered up an idea, lent us their name or paid their dues, we owe this to you. You're the ones who give us strength, who bring people in, who make us the union that we've become. It doesn't matter how you show your support-- it's the fact that you give it so unselfishly that has gotten us here. I truly mean it when I say that you guys are the finest bunch of cohorts and coworkers anyone could hope for. It's a pleasure to come to work with you every day and you should all congratulate yourselves for making this a better place.

So now that our biggest battle's out of the way, where to go from here? Josh Kleinbaum answered that at one of our contract explanation meetings: "I know this is the best deal we could have gotten and under the circumstances, I'm happy to have it," he said. "But I think we've got to start looking ahead so we can get a better one next time around. We can do better than this."

He's exactly right. While we should be proud of the deal we've won for everyone, we should never get complacent and will always need to find ways to make this union more responsive and this job better. The 2.25 percent raise was great under the conditions we were operating under, but it's nowhere near enough for people to get by in these living conditions. Next time around, we've got to be bigger, stronger and smarter to get the company to pay people closer to what they deserve.

So we'll enjoy what we've won for a little bit, celebrate our successes and spread the word to the people who haven't climbed aboard yet. Then we'll go right back to work. The Daily News is clearly a better place to work than it was three years ago, but there's still much to be done. We'll change the ways we reach out to people, try new things, maintain the higher profile we've developed due to your efforts. Keep at it, guys, we're doing good stuff, but we can't let up.

When Kerry and I went into Ron Kaye's office on Friday to inform him that the contract had been ratified, he did something very interesting. He offered congratulations and renewed his pledge to work with us to continue improving the relationship here between management and employees. Manangement's usually less than thrilled to be parting with money, especially when it's because a strong union's squeezed it out of the company's wallet. But here, we've got a guy who seems to understand that the paper's changing and becoming a better place for all of us-- that's something we hope to maintain and improve for years to come.

I know I've gone on for long enough, so I'll shut up now and let you guys get on with your contractually mandated long weekend (sorry, couldn't resist that little plug there). So let me end with this: thank you to every one of you. You were there for us when we needed it most and we'll always be there for you, too.


Hurricane Relief Efforts

Hey Everyone,

Alright, here's a couple ideas for how we can pitch in to help the folks in the South who need it most right now... anything you give is completely up to you and will be greatly, greatly appreciated by the people in those dire straits. And as an important note, the first suggestion is just something people came up with, it's not an official CWA-sponsored charity. The second one, however, comes from the national union. They're both fine ideas and deserve our attention.

Idea #1: Josh Kleinbaum's organizing a charity poker game, where $10 gets you into the game, then you can play all you want. The money will all go to Red Cross relief efforts-- none will be kept by players (I think I'm explaining that right-- email for more details). The game will be this Thursday and so's you can actually take something tangible home, Lisa Sodders is gonna make one of her famed desserts for the winner and Carol Rock will supply a pasta dinner. And even if you can't make the game or aren't a poker player, he's also taking donations for anyone interested.

The money will then be donated by our former member Nicole Sunkes through her new job at Yahoo!, which does dollar-for-dollar matching. Thanks to all involved on that-- you guys have true heart.

Idea #2: Check out the email below, which came to me from CWA. If you're looking for a different charity to support, we can help out our fellow union members by donating to the fund mentioned below. If we ever need it, they'd be there for us, so if you've got some extra generousity to go around, they could certainly use it.

So think it over and do what you can-- the situation on the ground is absolutely awful. Let's do what we can to lend a hand.


----Original Message Follows----
From: "Janine Brown, CWA Community Services Representativ"
To: "Brent Hopkins"
Subject: Help CWA Members Devastated by Hurricane Katrina
Date: Fri, 02 Sep 2005 17:55:35 GMT
MIME-Version: 1.0
Received: from ([]) by with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.211); Fri, 2 Sep 2005 10:55:41 -0700
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X-OriginalArrivalTime: 02 Sep 2005 17:55:41.0328 (UTC) FILETIME=[888E9900:01C5AFE7]

Dear Brent,

Hurricane Katrina has left millions of Americans -- including up
to 20,000 CWA Members -- with next to nothing. Homes have been
leveled, jobs destroyed -- lives devastated.

Many of our brothers and sisters have lost everything they own
in the world -- but they still have their union. We've got to
act now to help them.

Through the CWA Disaster Relief Fund, you will have a tremendous
impact on the lives of members and retirees who have been
affected. Your valuable financial support will be given directly
to CWA families trying to rebuild their lives -- at a time when
many have little to build on.

It's up to each of us to show the strength of our union family
and support our CWA brothers and sisters through the difficult
time ahead. Please, give what you can:

The long road to recovery will be difficult, and we have to
start helping now. If you know of a CWA family affected by this
disaster, please email or call me
at (202) 434-1149 with any details you have. It is imperative
that we identify people in need as soon as possible so we can
get help to them.

This is a call for help that every CWA Member needs to hear --
but not all of them will receive this email. Please, forward
this message to as many people as you can. Our donations website
also has a form you can download to copy and share with those
who wish to send a check.

Thank you for standing with our fellow CWA families in their
hour of need.

In Solidarity,
Janine Brown
CWA Community Services Representative

p.s. Contributions to the CWA Disaster Relief Fund are
tax-deductible. Please on the link below to find out how you can
support the fund.

If you would like to unsubscribe from this e-mail list or update
your account information, visit your CWA subscription management
page at:

If you would like to unsubscribe from ALL e-mail lists
associated with the CWA e-Activist Network, you can respond to
this email with "REMOVE"
as the subject.

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