2023 PMWG Local Election Notice

Guild Members,

An important LOCAL 39521 Election is being conducted by secret mail ballot for the role of California Vice President on our Local Executive Committee.

NOTICE: All members in good standing within units of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 that are based in California will soon receive an official Notice and Ballot in the mail to vote for our next California Vice President.

VOTING PERIOD: The official voting period is December 1 through December 19, 2023. Ballots must be marked and mailed so they will arrive at the Local 39521 Office at 433 Natoma Street, Suite 250, San Francisco, CA 94103, not later than 12:00 PM on Tuesday, December 19, 2023. The Local Elections Committee will count the ballots at 5 pm that day, and will certify the results following the count.

BALLOT INSTRUCTIONS: Mark your ballot clearly to indicate your preference. After marking your ballot, place it within the small envelope provided. Seal that envelope and place it within the larger post-paid return envelope. CLEARLY PRINT AND SIGN your name to the back of the larger envelope. Unsigned envelopes will be invalid. The postage-paid return envelopes are numbered for verification of eligibility only. This procedure protects the secrecy of your vote while allowing the Local Elections Committee to ensure only eligible members participate.

Place the signed envelope containing your vote in the mail. Postage will be provided.

Questions? Contact the Guild Office at (415) 421-6833 or elections@mediaworkers.org.

Each candidate prepared a statement for the Local Membership, below. Visit this page for election updates.

In Solidarity,

Local Election Committee

Patrick Cant, LEC Committee Chair, East Bay Times Member

Karl Mondon, San Jose Mercury News Member

Margo Brenes, At Large Member

Click here to see the Pacific Media Workers Guild Local Elections Rules.

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Derek Moore, Candidate for California Vice President, Member of the Freelance Unit

I am running for California Vice-President on my long record as a daily news staffer, freelancer and Guild officer who understands all too well the challenges facing our members in the Golden State and beyond.

Many of you know me from my tenure as President of the Local. During my eight years in office, our Local has grown exponentially with new members from inside and out of traditional media industries, found solid financial footing and wielded unprecedented clout.

These successes reflect the dedicated work of so many, including our administrative staff, our Executive Committee and most of all, dues-paying members like you. Thank you!

I am stepping away as President because the timing is right for fresh leadership. But in no way is my passion for our union diminished, which is why I respectfully ask for your support in this new role so that I may continue working with you on the myriad challenges confronting us.

I am humbled to have the personal endorsements of every member of the Local’s Executive Committee, as well as that of David Bacon and Bill Snyder, co-chairs of Guild Freelancers and editors with Bay News Rising. I’m also an editor for this amazing Guild publication.

I’ve said it before. My fight is your fight: for higher wages, better benefits and more humane working conditions. I have stood with our members to rally against corporate greed and the looting of our workplaces by predatory, bottom-feeding hedge funds. I have lobbied elected officials for media access to public information and for laws protecting our members from harassment and physical assault.

As a delegate to the TNG Sector and CWA conventions, I and fellow Local delegates Michael Applegate and Michael Cabanatuan supported sweeping changes to the way we run elections by ensuring every member gets a chance to vote. We also supported resolutions requiring Local officers to undergo anti-harassment training and to form a Committee for Global Security to assist journalists worldwide who face harassment, prosecution and risk of injury or death.

Closer to home, as a board member of the California Local News Fellowship, managed by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, I have a hand in pushing back on the expansion of news deserts in our state and supporting the career aspirations of emerging journalists. In this role, I also work closely with our labor partners who represent the fellows.

Also on the homefront, I was at the helm when our Local helped lead a collaborative statewide effort with labor unions and news organizations on passing legislation bolstering protections for California journalists when they cover protests, riots and other demonstrations. This effort culminated in Gov. Gavin Newsom signing SB 98 into law, an unprecedented achievement for this Local and all who support and defend journalist rights! 

I have bargained Local contracts, crafted and argued grievances, testified in arbitration matters and conducted our meetings with openness and efficiency. Always, I place the interests of the union ahead of my own.

The same cannot be said of my opponent, who has a long and depressing history of divisive political grandstanding and undermining our Local in pursuit of his own self-interests.

The Executive Committee took the extraordinary step of censuring Steve Zeltzer in November 2017 for conduct unbecoming a union member. As usual, his lack of standing in this Local is such that he was forced to once again nominate himself for this election.

My record is one of positive and transparent leadership, and of always putting the interests of our members first. I respectfully ask for your vote.

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Steve Zeltzer, Candidate for California Vice President, Member of the Freelance Unit

Dear Brothers, Sisters and Siblings,

I am a member of the Freelance unit of our local running for California Vice President. I have covered labor struggles in the US and internationally providing a rank & file perspective and giving  voice to workers and unions that are ignored by mainstream media. I want to bring our local into the 21st century and build a culture of union democracy & membership power. I am a  producer of labor media including the program WorkWeek which is on KPOO in San Francisco. I also produce labor programming on KPFK’s Working Voices In LA and on Pacifica’s Capitalism, Race and Democracy.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was a game changer which allowed media to be controlled in fewer hands. This has left our NG locals fighting conglomerates which can shadow ban individual journalists as well as eliminate entire newsrooms for a bottomless pit of a bottom line. They plan to use AI to expand the attacks on our members and other workers like the Writers Guild. Our members at the SF Chronicle have been threatened and retaliated against for participating in political marches and even donating to political candidates. We need to take on management on this issue of democratic rights for our members.  The right to march on Women’s Day,  May Day and other rallies are basic democratic rights for all regardless of whether you are a journalist or not. This is something our local, the NG and CWA need to take a stand on and defend our fellow journalists who have been attacked and retaliated for speaking out on these issues including at the LA Times.

The PMWG should publicize and organize an education and political defense campaign nationally with the NG and CWA  to protect these members and the right of all journalists to free speech.  At our last meeting, I urged that our local publicize and support the struggle for a ceasefire in Palestine and support the resolution they passed.

This is not just about the actions of Israel to target and murder Palestinian journalists and the Palestinian people, but it is about the continued support by the US in arming and backing the apartheid Zionist state of Israel. There has been a national organized effort to get the NG Executive Committee to join with the IFJ to stop this genocide with the call for a ceasefire yet the NG has failed to act.

At the last convention, I supported the NG & CWA to take a stand as well on the defense of journalists Julian Assange and Mumia Abu-Jamal who are jailed and whose lives are in serious danger.

I introduced and supported two resolutions which were passed by our local and sent to both conventions. There was a debate about the case of Assange and the resolution unfortunately was defeated because of a lack of education.

The president of our Local did not inform our members that a debate took place at the convention because of our resolution and the resolution was never placed on our website. He also did not attend the last union meeting and has a record of missing our local union meetings.

We need to report on what is happening at our labor councils including in San Francisco. AFL-CIO President Liz Schuler ordered the SF Labor Council in 2021 to halt any discussion on the attack on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and a boycott of Israel. This was never reported to our local by our delegate to the SF Labor Council but should have been.

The rise of fascism and possible coming to power of Trump again will mean the murder and terror against large numbers of journalists, minorities, and workers in the US. The rise of fascism is an existential issue for journalists, our union, and the working class. That is why I support a discussion in the labor movement about the need to form a mass democratic labor party. I do not believe the corporate billionaire controlled Democratic Party will or can defend our democratic rights on the job or in  the streets.

I also support the use of video and a channel by our local. I have produced videos about our struggles including at the SF Chronicle.

My opponent charges that I was censured by the Local leadership because of my conduct at a previous convention. This came about because according to testimony by our former secretary at a local hearing, the Secretary Treasurer had told her to take away my credentials without going to the credentials committee although I was elected as an alternative delegate. These methods are bureaucratic and improper.

There is also a problem of sexual harassment that went on for years at the Pittsburgh local by the Local’s Executive Officer that in my view was covered up by the national leadership of the Guild and resulted in a lawsuit against the NG which was recently settled by our new CWA president Claude Cummins.

If elected, I will support the re-establishment of our local’s Human Rights committee and for regular reports to the membership of its work. This committee is also required under our local’s bylaws.

Lastly I urge our local and members go to a Labor For Palestine rally for a permanent ceasefire on June 16th in Oakland at the Oscar Grant Plaza at 1:00 PM and urge our local  to publicize and  participate with other unionists.

Please vote and let’s continue the struggle for democracy,  justice, human rights and workers power.


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Hunter Paniagua

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