From The News Guild President Jon Schleuss

These last few days have been dark for our country. Today I released a statement condemning the attacks against journalists and anyone peacefully protesting. You can read that in full here. Please share it with our members. 
Last night we had an emergency call with local officers and unit leaders addressing how to respond to the targeting of journalists by police across the country. 

Several good ideas were shared:

  • Reach out to local AFL-CIOs and CLCs and ask them to condemn the police violence against protesters and journalists just doing their job.
  • For those covering protests, push employers to provide protective equipment — and be wary of overdressing in a way that could make you the target. Bicycle helmets and goggles are helpful in protests, but don’t draw a lot of attention.
  • Be sure to communicate with police and activists and tell them that journalists are just doing their jobs and should not be attacked.
  • Reach out to the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma and others to do training and find ways to support each other’s mental health during this pandemic and protests.
  • Provide a safe space, even if on Zoom, to support colleagues, especially our Black colleagues, and start a dialogue.

We’ve signed onto a letter from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which is soon being sent to officials in Minnesota. It provides helpful information about our rights and the potential legal liability of officers interfering with the right of journalists to report on the news. RCFP separately has a guide to covering protests and a tip sheet on protecting yourself while covering a protest. 

Please take time to check in with your members and colleagues, especially our Black members. We need solidarity more than ever right now. And be safe as you work to inform our communities.

In solidarity,


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Essential Workers Provide Essential News

 I was on edge this weekend as I watched the steady stream of updates from the streets of Chicago and the suburbs from the tireless, dedicated journalists of the Chicago News Guild. If, like me, you saw or read something in the news about the chaos in our community this week that shocked, pained, outraged or moved you, remember that a reporter or photographer put themselves at risk to show you what was happening on the streets.
> Whether you are hunkered down in your home or out in the streets yourself, we owe a debt to journalists who are documenting and providing context to events even as they unfold. Journalists know that scenes like the ones we all have seen this week cannot be reported on from a “safe” distance, nor do they expect their safety to be prioritized above anyone else at the scene of a mass protest. But it was disheartening to me to see instances in other cities where police appeared to single out news reporters and photographers who were only trying to do their jobs.
> It was also sad to see Tribune Guild members tweeting that they were being sidelined by furloughs in the midst of a huge, breaking news story sweeping across our area. Again, the courageous reporters and photographers in the CT Guild only want to do their jobs, and Tribune Publishing should end their furloughs immediately and invest in coverage a historic moment. Now, more than ever, we are depend on the work of journalists. Let them do their work. Be safe, NewsGuild.

Grace Catania President Chicago News Guild Local 34071

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In Loving Memory

Albert Dickens
Albert Dickens

Members of Chicago Newspaper Guild Local 34071:

It is with great sadness that I report the death of former activist of the Chicago News Guild and member of the Guild’s Executive Board,  Albert Dickens of the Chicago Sun­-Times.

Albert, who died May 10, 2020, at age 82, began his tenure with the Sun­Times in 1978, joining the paper after the Chicago Daily News folded. Between the two papers, he amassed more than 49 years of service. He officially retired in September 2019 because of the effects of a stroke suffered in March 2019.

A staple in the newsroom, Albert served as the editorial assistant for the Sports Department but was known throughout the company. A dapper dresser with a friendly personality, Albert lit up the newsroom both with his appearance and his presence. But it was his vast wealth of knowledge and meticulous attention to his work that were most impressive. Efficient and professional, he handled everything from filling out expense forms to making travel arrangements for reporters to solving payroll crises. He was the glue that held the department together.

He didn’t stop there, however. Albert was revered by all whose path he crossed. Helpful and friendly, he was a beacon of light in a newsroom in which the day-­to-­day grind sometimes was bleak. Versed on seemingly every subject and fluent in more than five languages, Albert could hold a conversation with everyone from the printers to the executives of the paper. He even conversed in Polish with the maintenance staff — not bad for a guy from a small town in Iowa.

A true renaissance man, Albert loved opera, theater, literature and classical music. He also dabbled in art. Did I say dabbled? He was an accomplished artist who loved working in watercolors and enjoyed sketching. Albert will be missed by all who were fortunate enough to know him.

Services were held May 14, 2020.

Denise O’Neal

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Covid-19 Resources

The COVID-19 pandemic has touched everyone in some way, and thousands of people directly. We know that includes members of our own News Guild local. People may be under economic stress from business furloughs and layoffs (including those who need help navigating unemployment or other sources of emergency funding.) They may need personal help – social, emotional, or just a friendly ear. 

We want to help. As a start, we’ve created a page where we hope to gather information on and links to resources: As this emergency continues we will try to update and broaden it. We invite members to check it out.

If you know of resources, and want to help us provide support for fellow Guild members, you can contact Kathy Routliffe at or 773-759-5988. We will add more contacts soon. Thank you all, and stay safe. 

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The News Guild 9-Point Plan

Monday night, the Chicago News Guild Executive Committee— with representatives from the Sun-Times, The Reader, Pioneer Press, and non-newspaper units we represent—  voted unanimously to support TNG’s effort, and our local staff and member volunteers, like Local President Grace Catania, will be involved in promoting legislation to support newspapers in Illinois and across the US. No individual member will be asked to do anything that would violate the terms of our contract, employee handbooks or journalistic ethics.

The NewsGuild-CWA has started a petition to make Members of Congress aware of the battle that we are fighting to keep journalism essential during this pandemic. We seek to include the journalism industry in the next stimulus package. We need your help supporting this initiative! Please click the link below to sign and share the petition.

Below is a draft of the union’s demands:  

1. Acknowledgement that accurate, reliable local, regional and national journalism is an essential service that provides life-saving information in this crisis.

2. Public financing for local journalism: the federal government should establish a publicly financed fund to support newsrooms and media workers to prevent layoffs.

Such a fund would also serve to promote local journalism in news deserts in all 50 states and territories to supplement or fund additional positions in private-sector news organizations, but not be used to replace existing employees. This fund would also support independent reporting in partnership with other news organizations.

The fund should be regulated to ensure news organizations remain independent and workers should be involved in any such public funding mechanism.

3. Any employer taking public funds must:

  • ●  Remain independent from partisan influence
  • ●  Demonstrate financial need and report on how they used the funding later on.
  • ●  Be prohibited from using public money for executive bonuses, dividends or stock
    buybacks for five years. Any company taking public funds may not allow executive bonuses, stock options, or golden parachutes for five years. Executive compensation should be capped at twice that of the editor in chief.
  • ●  Be prohibited for five years from engaging in mergers and acquisition activity or leveraged buyouts that result in job losses or pay reductions.

● Adhere to the terms of public financing or be subject to a claw back of any public funds, including interest and penalties.

4. No layoffs, no furloughs, no buyouts or pay cuts: In this crisis, it’s essential that we invest in and retain journalists and other media workers, especially in local communities where Americans need to know when schools and businesses are open, where testing centers are and what the current case and death totals are. The financialization of the industry has reduced the number of journalists available to share life-saving information during this crisis. This cannot be allowed to continue.

5. Workers’ rights must be recognized and supported: Any employer taking public funds must not interfere with union organizing campaigns and should be prohibited from hiring anti-union consultants for the purposes of quashing worker organizing drives. These employers should be barred from forcing employees to attend mandatory anti-union meetings on work time. Employers should be required to accept third-party voluntary recognition if a majority of the bargaining unit signs authorization cards.

Any employer taking public funds should be required to agree to interest arbitration for first contracts for newly organized units. Further, any employer taking public funds (and any successors) will not abrogate existing collective bargaining agreements, as well as tentative agreements and expired CBAs, in whole or in part, for at least five years after receiving public funding, or two years after completing repayment of any loan. Any employer negotiating a first or successor collective bargaining agreement shall remain committed to bargaining in good faith to quickly reach an agreement.

6. Promote diversity and equity

In the interest of supporting and advancing diversity, any employer taking public funds should be required to implement plans intended to advance diversity across their staff and report their annual diversity statistics.

7. Board seats for employees

Any employer owned by public corporations or private equity firms taking public funds should be required to designate one quarter of Board seats to be held by non-management employees, who will be selected by mutual agreement between labor and management.

8. Loans for non-profit startups

The Small Business Administration should make available an indefinite program of no-interest loans for the creation of news start-ups, including nonprofits and employee-owned co-ops.

9. Any plan must further assist the news industry by:

  • ●  Making tax-deductible the cost of subscriptions for any news product.
  • ●  Providing incentives for local ownership to encourage chains to sell to local owners and
    community interests.
  • ●  Establishing a nationwide advertising purchasing program to promote public health,
    participation in the federal census and other topics of national interest.
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Resolution of Support

Whereas, the public health crisis posed by COVID-19 has had unprecedented effects on the global economy, which have struck hard at the revenues that support the operations of newspapers and other news organizations in Chicago and across the world.

Whereas, news organizations are providing vitally important information to our readers in cities and towns across the United States amid this crisis but have drastically less revenue to support their operations.

Whereas, TNG-CWA has formulated a plan to secure financial support for the newspaper industry to benefit the workers, preserve journalistic independence, and enforce transparency on newspaper owners.

Therefore, be it resolved:

The Chicago News Guild Executive Board supports the TNG-CWA plan to revitalize the newspaper industry and the union’s efforts to bring that plan about and secure the future for our members.

Approved, March 30, 2020

Chicago News Guild Executive Board Local 34071

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Chicago News Guild resolutions

WHEREAS, the World Health Organization has declared the novel Coronavirus a pandemic and public health emergency; and

WHEREAS, both the U.S. and Illinois governments have declared states of emergency and Governor Pritzker has issued a “Shelter in Place” order; and

WHEREAS, these extraordinary circumstances have resulted in an unprecedented downturn in commercial activity and a corresponding economic crisis impacting vast numbers of working class people; and

WHEREAS, the hardship facing U.S. workers on account of this crisis involves growing ranks of un- and under-employed people in a variety of industries whose ability to meet basic needs is increasingly under threat; and

WHEREAS, the crisis will not cease soon but will likely intensify for the foreseeable future; and

WHEREAS, the support offered to U.S. workers by local, state, and national governments has thus far been inadequate given the severity of the circumstances; and

WHEREAS, the Chicago News Guild stands in solidarity with the entirety of the international working class:

RESOLVED, that the Chicago News Guild, in the interest of its membership and the entire working class, will demand Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, and U.S government officials immediately and indefinitely waive the collection of all rent, mortgage, utility, and debt payments; and

RESOLVED, that the Chicago News Guild will urge the membership and all officers of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) to demand the same in their locale and at every level of government; and

RESOLVED, that the Chicago News Guild will urge fellow member organizations of the AFL-CIO to demand the same in their locale and at every level of government; and

RESOLVED, that the Chicago News Guild will call upon officials of the CWA International Union to convene a meeting as soon as possible wherein strategies for effectively organizing around this demand will be developed and a plan put in place to make the conditions for which it calls a reality.

Approved March 30, 2020

Chicago News Guild Executive Board Local 34071

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Important Reminder

The Robert D. Johnson Memorial Scholarship Fund, administered by the Cleveland Foundation, is now accepting applications for the 2020-2021 academic year.  Application deadline is 5 p.m. EDT, April 15, 2020.  Awards will be announced by June 15, 2020.
The fund was established by a unanimous vote at the 1999 CWA District 4 Meeting in memory of District 4 Vice President Emeritus Robert D. Johnson.  A random drawing is used to select the scholarship awards.  More information is provided on the attached flyer.
Applications must be completed and submitted through the Cleveland Foundation’s Scholarship Gateway site.  The website address is:   Information on how to apply for a scholarship is at:

Please make special note of the application deadline date of April 15, 2020, 5 p.m. EDT.  Also, if your Local has not yet met its quota, please let this serve as an important reminder to do so.
If you need further information, do not hesitate to contact Bonnie LaCause in my office via email:   For questions regarding the online application process, please contact Jane Marquiss (216) 615-7164 at the Cleveland Foundation.  

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County Court Changes

Dear Guild Members: The Guild met with the OCJ and has come to a tentative verbal agreement on the following: The OCJ and the Chicago News Guild for a duration of 30 days agree to the following, which may be extended by mutual agreement:

1) No employees will lose salary, sick leave or unscheduled vacation.

2) All employees will be on call as needed to do remote work such as translations and webinars during the 30 day period.

3) All-Full time court interpreters will be paid 100% of their salary.

4) All session court interpreters will be paid the average of their last 4 or 5 pay periods.

5) A limited number of court interpreters will be assigned to court houses each day. The Guild has proposed that this be done on a rotation basis to limit exposure to the virus. An assignment would involve additional monetary compensation for session interpreters or compensation time for full interpreters.

As soon as the OCJ has the court schedule, the OCJ and/or Guild will inform you as soon as we know.

Tomorrow the Guild will meet with the OCJ to address safety concerns of any employees who are scheduled to work during the next 30 days.

Jose Alvarez
Veronica Rivas
Yadira Esperza
Craig Rosenbaum
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