Derek Moore, a reporter at The Press Democrat and chair of the Guild unit in Santa Rosa, has been appointed interim President of the Pacific Media Workers Guild following the resignation of Rebecca Rosen Lum.
Rosen Lum stepped down for medical reasons but remains an active leader in the Guild Freelancers unit. She was elected president in 2013 and began a two-year term in January 2014.
The Local Executive Committee voted unanimously by e-mail last week to name Moore to fill the vacancy pending a new election. The next regular term for the president and all other local officers would start January 1, with nominations opening this fall.
“Rebecca has been one of the Guild’s true visionaries, starting when she was a religion writer at the Contra Costa Times,” said Carl Hall, executive officer of the Media Workers Guild, recalling that she was one of the first Contra Costa workers to signal support for the organizing campaign that formed the Bay Area News Group-East Bay unit.
Rosen Lum was laid off in June 2008, along with Guild leader Sara Steffens and two-dozen others, shortly after the BANG-East Bay organizing victory. Rosen Lum moved into a critical organizing role for the Guild, launching the first Guild freelance unit in the country. She also helped establish the local’s innovative student program, Bay News Rising, and has been a regular contributor to mediaworkers.org, the Local’s award-winning online site.
The president’s role includes officiating at the monthly Executive Committee meetings. Rosen Lum found that job increasingly difficult, because of health issues including a recent diagnosis of what is believed to be early-stage Parkinson’s disease.
In her note of resignation, she expressed frustration at her inability to do more for the Guild.
“It has been my intention during my tenure as president of the PMWG to reach out to members, get familiar with unit concerns, oversee a vital recruitment drive, and represent our local at conferences and in the community.
“However, my best laid plans ran aground when I acquired Parkinsonism. It’s early on, and I’m lucky to be at one of the premier research and treatment centers in the world: UCSF. My outlook is upbeat. But a neurological ailment can really slow you down, and the Guild means too much to me to continue in this role at a fraction of my normal capacity,” she wrote.
The note triggered an outpouring of gratitude from her fellow members of the Executive Committee, all of whom were candidates along with Rosen Lum on the “Unity Slate” that won a spirited union election in 2013. That election result capped a long battle involving a unit of court interpreters which eventually departed Local 39521 and have formed a separate local of TNG.
Partly because of the departure of the California Federation of Interpreters, a committee of the Local leadership plans to revise local Bylaws this year. This could alter the lineup of Local officers and election procedures. Any bylaws change would need membership approval before it could take effect.
Moore now serves as the highest officer at the helm of the San Francisco-based Media Workers Guild, Local 39521 of The NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America. He will retain his leadership role in Santa Rosa where talks for a new labor agreement are expected to start this fall.
He has been with the Press Democrat since 1998. He writes about the state Legislature, Sonoma State University, the city of Rohnert Park and all things in between.
His high-profile assignments included the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City when he was a reporter with the Napa Valley Register. He has covered numerous natural disasters, including most recently last summer’s earthquake in Napa, which rattled him out of bed.
Since 2007, he has served as Guild unit chair representing the PD newsroom staff. In that role, he helped steer the Santa Rosa staff through a tumultuous ownership transition, starting when The New York Times decided to sell the PD and all its regional holdings to a Florida-based chain, which in turn put the North Bay daily and local affiliates up for sale.
That led to a purchase by Sonoma Media, a local ownership group, but not before a dramatic round of contract bargaining the group’s financial backers wanted to see to conclusion before the sale took effect. The deal with the union included a 3-year no-layoff provision.
The Press Democrat Guild members unanimously ratified the contract.
An Oklahoma native, Moore’s background also includes a year-long stint in South Africa on a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from Sacramento State University and a post-graduate diploma in African Studies from the University of Cape Town.