Saturday, July 15, 2006

Don't Take No Junk Off No One.

Hey Folks,

You've probably seen the news of the bloodbath going on up there at the Santa Barbara News-Press, ably compiled on Romenesko and LAObserved-- I don't want to comment on their problems since I only know of them through what I read, but it seems like it's a mess that won't get fixed anytime soon.

I meant to type this up the other night, noting that we don't have to go through awful personnel madness like that because of this union and that one would come in handy for them. And, what do ya know, they went out and hooked up with the Teamsters. Things sound so chaotic right now, they rightly thought that they needed a unified voice if they want to save their jobs and their paper.

I think this is something that we forget, seeing as how we've got a pretty collegial workplace these days. But when times get rough elsewhere, sometimes the union's the only thing standing between your job and getting quoted in the rival paper saying "I don't know what happened-- it used to be such a good place to work."

It's not just at the News-Press, either. Awhile back, in part of my job as one of the stewards, I spoke with some folks at other non-union papers about what organizing has done for us and could do for them. It's amazing what other people go through-- I've heard of workers who are afraid to discuss their wages because their company threatened to fire them, places that don't allow staffers to decorate their desks, jobs that send their employees out on stress-related disability all because there was no one to speak up on their behalf.

So while we've got it pretty good at the Daily News, we can't forget that, nor can we accept it when things fall short here. There've been a lot of changes in the last year to make things more worker-friendly, but we've got to keep at it. Whether it's substandard equipment, bad schedules, bad managers, don't put up with it-- with this union, we've got a great tool to work toward improvements, so let's use it.

If you see something that feels wrong, say so-- do it in a respectful, constructive way, of course, but if that doesn't work, tell us. We're here to listen to your problems and work to find an answer. We're not always going to be able to fix things, but we're certainly going to do our best to make sure everyone gets a fair shake.

Alright, thanks for your time and support, as always. I'm going to be out of the office in lovely Iowa for the next week or so, but you can reach me through e-mail or you can also talk to my co-steward, Kerry Kandel, down at City Hall ( If it's an emergency, feel free to call me at 310-562-4315, but it costs approximately $10 zillion a minute when I'm out of the area, so e-mail would be best.

Take it easy until then and let's all get together next week sometime to relax out of this godforsaken heat.



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