E&P reports that Guild leaders are aiming for a union representation vote within six months, or sooner, for newsroom employees of MediaNews papers in the East Bay. Two months after MediaNews Group withdrew recognition of the Newspaper Guild at six of its newspapers, including The Oakland Tribune. The Guild wants to bring back the union at those papers and then organize the traditionally non-union Contra Costa Times.

Publisher John Armstrong said the campaign to reinstate is not a surprise, but believes a union is not needed. “The pay levels, benefits and working conditions at Contra Costa newspapers were superior to the conditions at ANG newspapers who were subject to collective bargaining. If it goes to a vote, we’ll have to make our case.”

The Guild has set up a Web site to make its case, www.onebigbang.org.

SF Press Club News


  1. Two reasons why ANG wages were lower:

    1. The ANG papers individually were smaller than the CCT or Chron. At a 10,000 or 25,000 circ paper, you’re not going to make what you would at a 100,000 or 450,000 circ paper. That’s just the way it works.

    2. Once ANG workers voted to unionize, there was no reason any manager — Singleton or anybody else — would raise wages beyond what was absolutely necessary. When there’s a threat of a union in a non-union operation, management treats employees well. Once employees vote to join a union, everything changes. Management starts playing hardball. I’m not endorsing that behavior, it’s just a fact of life.

    Unionizing CCT will be an uphill battle for the Guild. But the Guild has one sure thing going for it: Singleton always has a way of shooting himself in the foot!

  2. So is Armstrong saying ANG workers made less money BECAUSE they were represented by a union? Seriously? Are we to believe MediaNews offered ANG employees salaries comparable to those at the CCT or Chronicle, and that the union turned it down or somehow got in the way? Yes, the contract signed in 1998 wasn’t very good, but let’s be real. The reason CCT workers never unionized was because Knight Ridder (and before that Lesher) paid them a fair salary and ran the newspaper in a somewhat competent fashion. Dean Singleton has never been known to do either.

    And what about those 12 years when ANG employees didn’t have a union contract? By Armstrong’s logic wages, benefits and working conditions should’ve been better then, not when employees worked under a contract. That clearly wasn’t the case.

    Having worked with John for several years I know him to be a decent guy. But shame on him for spewing Dean Singleton talking points in order to save his job.

    My advice to anybody still working at BANG: Get a contract or get the hell out.

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