Coming into the Guild as a member of a non-profit organization. Our unit chose the Guild because of its strong representation of not only journalist but for its representation of other non-journalist from staff unions, such as the AFL-CIO, UFCW, and local staff unions of the SEIU.
I came to know Bernie when I became a member of the TNG executive board. Considering I was on the opposing side of his electoral win in 2008, he had a lot to prove not just to myself but to everyone else who supported his former opponent at that time.
Since that time and up until my last service on the executive board, Bernie proved to be a capable and supportive leader of our International union. Understand, when I came onto the board, was during the time the newspaper industry was fighting to survive during a time when newspaper owners (at that time the enemy was the Tribune) were filing bankruptcy on top of laying off members and journalists in many of those papers. One such paper whose members felt the brunt of this fight was the Baltimore Sun. A unit which at that time I represented as a local president.
Bernie, along with our local and attorney’s fought hard during a time when many papers were laying off our members, to obtain the best economic packages for members caught up in the bankruptcy, as well as ensure the language and contractural rights of our contracts were secured. Needless to say, the union stood strong and won.
That is just another example of how experience comes into play when working to keep your union strong when faced with declining membership numbers. Since that time, Bernie’s message of Building a Stronger Guild showed how he was not just in it for the title of being president. Membership mattered. His conversations and strategy was always the goal of organizing to grow our union, along with how to get our younger members more involved.
Through that mission is how many young members like Jon Schleuss, chose the Guild as their union of choice.
As a member of a staff union, Bernie always supported and encouraged my voice in ensuring that not only did diversity matter, but our member rights and concerns were also considered and included during those many board meetings, trainings and conferences. He has always been an inclusive leader. Might I note that during my time of service, did I ever hear from Jon to ask why members like myself mattered.
Yes, Bernie believes in growing our union and encouraging our younger members to step up and become involved in their locals and new units as leaders. To serve along side and learn from those of us who have blazened the trails, broke ground to bring forth better protective language to make our contracts even stronger.
To grasp the baton as it is passed on to them to take our organization to the next level. To continue the fight, so that generations after them will know it takes experience to grow in experience. As a former staff union leader, that is what I did before throwing my hat in the ring to become local president and thereafter, to earn a seat on the executive board.
This is why I am casting my vote to reelect Bernie Lunzer for President of our International NewsGuild, and why I hope you will as well.
Yours in solidarity,
Past Regional II VP
At-Large Member, Local 32035 (WBNG)