A Dispatch from the Western District Council President

A record-setting 25 members and delegates of the Western District Council of The Newspaper Guild (TNG) met over the weekend in Santa Fe Springs to discuss the challenges they face and the strategies they have utilized to maintain a stable work environment despite difficult times.

Attendees represented locals from throughout California, Washington, Oregon, Minnesota and Illinois. The Western District Council formed to exchange information and render mutual aid to member Locals. The TNG Constitution also gives such District Councils the right to make recommendations to the Executive Committees, which implement TNG-CWA’s programs.

TNG President Bernie Lunzer (middle in black shirt) and CWA members.
TNG President Bernie Lunzer (middle in black shirt) with TNG Sec/Treas Carol Rothman, Mike Buscko from the MN Guild, and Mike Cabanatuan from Local 39521.

During this year’s Western District Council meeting, TNG President Bernie Lunzer discussed the ongoing efforts to branch out by organizing freelancers and interpreters; explaining that for a long time TNG has not just included print media workers among its ranks. In fact three of the locals that attended represent interpreters — Minnesota, Chicago and the Pacific Media Workers Guild.

It was no surprise that we have a lot of work to do to educate mostly monolingual administrators and users of interpreter services that professional interpreters have mastered a highly specialized set of skills; and why it is in their best interest to care about the quality of interpreting services if they are to meet their responsibility to provide meaningful language access.

Our Local’s Executive Officer, Carl Hall, gave a preview of a California Labor Federation program, called “Changing the Narrative,” which suggests more effective and positive messaging for the labor movement. Hall and the State Fed plan to collaborate on a new program that would combine neuroscience research on “framing” labor’s message more effectively with a reporter’s inside view on how labor news gets covered by journalists.

Lunzer and Secretary/Treasurer Carol Rothman also updated attendees on the TNG/CWA video editing training program, which is available to media members who want or need to add new skills to stay competitive in today’s job market. They report that the program has been very successful.

There was a call to provide more education to union members about how to become more active at a local level and participate in activities that go beyond our personal and specific interests. We agreed that this is also an important priority.

Sara Steffens, of CWA District 9, and CFI President Michael Ferreira.
Sara Steffens, of CWA District 9, and CFI President Michael Ferreira.

In particular, the group discussed the need for unions to come together under a common cause and to become more active in the Social Justice Movement. Everyone agreed on the need to encourage and facilitate more participation in local Labor Council meetings, attendance at pro-worker rallies and events such as the protests against Walmart, and reaching out to interfaith councils.

It was heartening to see the diversity of professions represented by member locals of the Western District Council at the meeting and the camaraderie that followed at a paella dinner hosted by California Federation of Interpreters President Michael Ferreira. By embracing this diversity within our members, we can draw on their unique skills to solidify a stronger union for all.

In Unity,

Silvia Barden, Western District Council President


See more photos from the WDC here.

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Pacific Media Workers Guild

We are the Pacific Media Workers Guild, Local 39521 of The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America. We represent more than 1,200 journalists and other media workers, interpreters, translators, union staffs and freelancers.

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