The Guild has never needed Bernie Lunzer more than now.
And the reasons for reelecting him have never been more obvious.
He has a record of success, especially of supporting our locals in bargaining and organizing, that justifies bringing him back. And he has the experience, as a local bargainer and administrator as well as an international union treasurer and president, that makes him irreplaceable.
He has already led us to meet the challenge of replacing members lost to layoffs across the industry, and his knowledge of the rules and inner workings of the Communications Workers of America makes him our best defender as our parent union looks to streamline its operations.
My local has directly benefited from Bernie’s policies and leadership. At two of our locals, we had been stalled in bargaining with the GateHouse chain for more than four years and we feared we were staring at an impasse declaration.
But the 17-local GateHouse conference that Bernie helped organize and find funding for gave us national leverage that forced GateHouse to the bargain table. We won agreements that were nearly unanimously approved by our Providence and Worcester units, deals that restored nearly all of the contracts those two units had lost in contract-busting asset sales.
The Providence Newspaper Guild’s membership nearly doubled last year. That’s because our international union had two excellent organizers on staff.They were there because Bernie had worked for five or six years searching for ways to find the money to pay their salaries. And that investment has been paid off with more than four dozen new units and 2,000 new members since 2014.
The next couple years will be crucial for the Guild. As the telecommunications industry reels from the kind of layoffs we saw in 2008, the CWA is looking for ways to do the job better and less expensively. But we have to be sure that any simplification isn’t achieved at the expense of smaller national unions like the Guild.
We need a leader who knows what to do on the spot. We can’t have a learn-on-the-job president scrambling to find a consultant every time a major decision must be made. We need someone with the experience and connections to hold his own in corridors of the CWA when those plans are hatched. We need a guy who knows the players, who to call and what buttons to push.
Without that expertise, our national union could be chopped up and each of our locals parceled out to be just one more among many in the various CWA regions.
As a worker in our industry, Bernie has experience in the editorial, advertising, marketing and circulation departments. As an activist in our union, he’s bargained contracts, argued grievances managed the international’s budget and served as its president. He has the experience, the savvy and the record that demand he be returned for another term.
He is exactly what we need at exactly this moment.