The Minnesota Newspaper Guild/Typographical Union’s policy on Union standards for involvement in public issues is meant to accomplish three goals:
1. Allow the Union to take public stands on very narrowly defined issues of labor law and the media. The model is that of business and other advocacy groups, which are able to be the public, collective voice of members who cannot or choose not to speak individually.
2. Provide information and advocacy opportunities to members who are not bound by journalistic ethics to public neutrality.
3. Enable individual members to pick four levels of communication and involvement – from extensive to minimal to none at all.
We believe this policy protects journalists’ professional ethics while accommodating the wishes of the rest of the Union members to be more active in labor and community work.
Policy committee members:
H.J. Cummins, Karolynn DeLucca, Ann Wilhelmy, Star Tribune Unit;
David Hanners, Pioneer Press Unit.
Minnesota Newspaper Guild/Typographical Union
The Minnesota Newspaper Guild/Typographical Union supports workers’ rights to self organization – to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid and protection.
The Local represents many journalists; therefore it must be vigilant to avoid compromising the ethics of neutrality that are fundamental to the work and reputation of reporters, editors and other newsroom workers. For this reason, the Local does not screen or endorse candidates for public office and does not have or participate in any Political Action Committee. And, except for journalistic or labor matters, the Local does not take public positions on legislative, national and community issues.
These standards notwithstanding, such neutrality should not deny any Local member either basic access to information on matters that affect them as working Americans or the right to participate in political, community and social justice activities.
To these ends, the Local has established the following policy on distributing information to members and on the appropriate conduct of Local members, officers and staff. The fundamental principle is to provide as much information and advocacy opportunities to each member as he or she wishes.
Information Distribution Policy
The Local office will maintain three information distribution e-mail lists. The staff and/or officers of the Local shall screen all information to be included on the lists. Members will choose to be on or off the lists. The Local will not release or distribute member information from any of these lists. The Local cannot control the dissemination of information from the CWA national office.
List 1 – Informational: Information will be limited to issues of labor law and the media. The content is exclusively informational. For example, the State Legislature may be considering so-called “right-to-work” legislation, Congress may be voting on the “Team Act,” or the courts may be deliberating a freedom of the press issue.
All Local members will be on this list unless he or she opts out.
List 2 – Advocacy/Participation: Information will cover the broad range of public and political matters of interest to workers, such as social justice issues, livable wage policies or labor-endorsed positions. The content will be a combination of information and advocacy opportunities, such as news on a Teamster organizing effort and a call for support at a demonstration, possible new trade or minimum wage legislation or a call from a union to contact Congressmen and Senators on an issue. Individual members may participate according to their views and professional limitations.
Only members who choose will be on this list.
List 3 – Commercial: Information will cover commercial goods and services offered members, such as union benefits or discounts.
Only members who choose will be on this list.
The Local shall provide directions information in Shoptalk, on the website or in new member packets on how members may be included or excluded from the lists.
Letters of Support
When called upon to support actions by other labor organizations, the Local Executive Officer may provide that union, organization, employer, unit of government or other entity targeted in the request with a letter that cites the policy contained in the Preamble. If called upon to take specific actions – such as picket, boycott or banner – the letter shall state that Union members on the No. 2 list shall be informed of these actions. Copies of any letters of support shall be provided to the Representative Assembly.
The Executive Officer shall be the official spokesperson of the Local. Any member, officer or staff employee of the Local may act as a spokesperson for the Local with the consent of the Representative Assembly or appropriate unit leadership.
Nothing in this policy shall be construed as preventing any member from publicly declaring his/her membership in the Minnesota Newspaper Guild/Typographical Union.
The Representative Assembly shall be informed when the Local is asked to publicly show support for an issue – by displaying a Union banner at a demonstration or rally, for example – and make the decision whether to participate.
The Representative Assembly shall also be informed of and make a decision about all requests from labor or other organizations to use the Local’s name, equipment or resources for a labor cause. An example of this would be to use the Union office for a phone bank session or meeting.