Labor Union

NewsGuild-CWA

Website:

newsguild.org/

Location:

NEW YORK, NY

Tax ID:

13-1105115

Budget (2021):

Revenue: $4,105,644
Expenses: $5,780,133
Assets: $4,705,527

President:

Jon Schleuss

Parent Company:

Communications Workers of America (CWA)

Type:

Labor Union

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NewsGuild-CWA, also known as the Newspaper Guild, is a left-of-center labor union comprised of journalists. The union represents employees at several large newspapers and other online publications as well as employees of other labor unions and left-of-center activist groups including SEIU Local 1, the Democratic Socialists of America, and the Alliance for Justice. The union was founded in 1933 as the American Newspaper Guild and created chapters at several notable newspapers in its early years that are still in existence, perhaps most notably that at the New York Times.

The union led the San Francisco Newspaper Strike of 1994, and in 1995 merged with larger national union the Communications Workers of America. The union has grown since 2015, thanks to an increase of unionization pushes at news publications and among staff of other left-leaning groups that chose to organize with the union.1 2

Background and History

What is now known as NewsGuild-CWA was founded in 1933. Pushes to unionize editorial workers began in the late 1800s through the International Typographical Union (ITU) that tapered off in the 1920s. The ITU eventually relinquished jurisdiction over reporters amid union antipathy among journalists and disagreements with ITU procedures. At the time many reporters in big cities were known for working long hours and were alleged to occasionally accept money in exchange for slanted reporting or suppressing stories. 3

The NewsGuild’s history page explains that the prevailing term for reporters at the time of the union’s formation was “newsmen” which was “part of the sexist language of the time.” The formation of the union largely credited to Heywood Broun, a reporter for the New York World-Telegram. Broun wrote a column in 1933 supporting unionization and stating that he estimated that the unionized non-editorial employees at newspapers were making significantly more than the reporters who viewed unionization as “lowering their dignity.” 4

Broun’s column sparked the formation of the American Newspaper Guild, which he and others decided to call a guild because of the thought that the word union “might repel some of the more conservative men,” according to a political writer for the Cleveland News. The union had 7,000 members by 1934, about a year after its founding, and operated chapters in cities like New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Buffalo. The union grew further following the passage of the National Labor Relations Act, which strengthened the power and authority of labor unions. 5

In 1936 the guild became a member of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) but quickly left the AFL the following year to join the newly formed Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). At the time the union expanded beyond newsrooms and began to represent other newspaper employees such as ad clerks and circulation workers. 6

In the 1970s, the union changed its name from the American Newspapers Guild to the Newspaper Guild to reflect the fact that some organizing of local unions in Canada had taken place within the union since the 1950s. The membership of the union reached its peak in the 1980s. 7

1994 San Francisco Strike

In 1994 the Newspaper Guild led a major strike in San Francisco, in which employees of San Francisco’s two major newspapers, the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner, walked off the job for eleven days. 8

Employees of both papers, who were close competitors, operated under a joint union agreement. The strike originated after a year of failing to negotiate a new contract with management of the papers and also because the papers were offering a lower raise than the union demanded. The papers planned to cut the jobs of over 150 drivers who were members of the Teamsters union over several years. 9

The strike began on November 1, 1994 when 2,600 employees walked off the job and quickly turned violent. Bricks were thrown through the windshields of non-striking and non-union newspaper delivery drivers as they departed the distribution center, and one non-union driver was hit on the head with a lead pipe, suffering a fractured skull. One teamster driver was killed by electricity when scaling a power pole. 10

During the strike, some striking employees launched an online newspaper called the San Francisco Free Press, and another titled The Gate. Both online publications reported over 100,000 readers per day, and the creation of the online news sites contributed to the rise of online journalism in the United States. 11

Merger with CWA

In 1995, the Newspaper Guild merged with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and became a sector of the much larger union which consisted of over 700,000 employees at the time. The merger resulted in the union becoming a subsidiary of the CWA, taking the name NewsGuild-CWA. 12

The union’s merger with the CWA came at a time when the CWA was expanding its ranks in the 1990s and 2000s by merging with several smaller national unions that also included the International Union of Electronic Workers (IUE) (now referred to as the Industrial Division, CWA), representing electrical industry workers, and the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), representing flight attendants. 13

Political Involvement

The CWA has a reputation for being left-wing, even within the broadly progressive labor union movement. The union was the largest national labor union to support the candidacy of self-described socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries. 14

Some have questioned the involvement of the CWA in politics, especially given that the Newspaper Guild, a CWA member union, represents journalists. The membership of newspaper staff in the CWA is often not noted in stories on political expenditures by the union. 15

Organizing Activity

Since 2015, there has been a rise in unionization efforts at newspapers and online publications across the United States. 16 In addition to its growth in membership, the union has lobbied Congress for congressional aid to newspapers and an expansion of the Paycheck Protection program during the COVID-19 pandemic. The union also supports legislation titled the “Local Journalism Sustainability Act” and launched a website called Save the News to support the legislation. 17 18

Membership

NewsGuild-CWA represents members at news outlets such as the Chicago Sun Times, the Denver Post, the Miami Herald, the Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Daily Beast, the Daily Kos, and Buzzfeed News. 19

Left-of-center groups and unions that have employees unionized through NewsGuild-CWA include ACLU Kansas, ACLU Missouri, ACLU Virginia, Change.org, Clean Water Action, Color of Change, Jobs with Justice, League of Conservation Voters, Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), Planned Parenthood PA, the AFL-CIO, Change to Win, American Nurses Association, Florida AFL-CIO, Georgia AFL-CIO, SEIU Local 1, United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), and the Democratic Socialists of America. 20

References

  1. “History.” NewsGuild-CWA. Accessed October 2, 2022. https://newsguild.org/history/
  2. “Members.” NewsGuild-CWA. Accessed October 2, 2022.  https://newsguild.org/members/
  3.  “History.” NewsGuild-CWA. Accessed October 2, 2022. https://newsguild.org/history/
  4. “History.” NewsGuild-CWA. Accessed October 2, 2022. https://newsguild.org/history/
  5. “History.” NewsGuild-CWA. Accessed October 2, 2022. https://newsguild.org/history/
  6. “History.” NewsGuild-CWA. Accessed October 2, 2022. https://newsguild.org/history/
  7. “History.” NewsGuild-CWA. Accessed October 2, 2022. https://newsguild.org/history/
  8. Lewis, Peter. “THE MEDIA BUSINESS; A Newspaper Labor Dispute Spawns an On-Line Rivalry.” Washington Post. November 9, 1994. Accessed October 2, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/1994/11/09/business/the-media-business-a-newspaper-labor-dispute-spawns-an-on-line-rivalry.html?pagewanted=all
  9. Lewis, Peter. “THE MEDIA BUSINESS; A Newspaper Labor Dispute Spawns an On-Line Rivalry.” Washington Post. November 9, 1994. Accessed October 2, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/1994/11/09/business/the-media-business-a-newspaper-labor-dispute-spawns-an-on-line-rivalry.html?pagewanted=all
  10. Stein, M L. “Plagued with violence”. Editor & Publisher. November 12, 1994. Accessed October 2, 2022. https://www.editorandpublisher.com/stories/plagued-with-violence-p-16,17023
  11. Lewis, Peter. “THE MEDIA BUSINESS; A Newspaper Labor Dispute Spawns an On-Line Rivalry.” Washington Post. November 9, 1994. Accessed October 2, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/1994/11/09/business/the-media-business-a-newspaper-labor-dispute-spawns-an-on-line-rivalry.html?pagewanted=all
  12. “History.” NewsGuild-CWA. Accessed October 2, 2022. https://newsguild.org/history/
  13. Communications Workers of America. “CWA History: A Brief Review.” 2015. Accessed October 2, 2022. http://www.cwa-union.org/sites/default/files/cwa-history-brief-review.pd
  14. Varney, James. “Do Reporters Know They’re Giving Money to Sanders and Clinton?” POLITICO Magazine. April 5, 2016. Accessed October 2, 2022. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/04/bernie-sanders-hillary-clinton-cwa-politics-213795
  15. Varney, James. “Do Reporters Know They’re Giving Money to Sanders and Clinton?” POLITICO Magazine. April 5, 2016. Accessed October 2, 2022. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/04/bernie-sanders-hillary-clinton-cwa-politics-213795
  16. “History.” NewsGuild-CWA. Accessed October 2, 2022. https://newsguild.org/history/
  17. “Home.” Save the News. Accessed October 2, 2022. https://savethenews.org/
  18. Meyer, Theodoric “Politico Influence: Media Union Presses for Changes to Small Business Loan Rules.” Politico. July 23, 2020. Accessed October 2, 2022. https://www.politico.com/newsletters/politico-influence/2020/07/23/media-union-presses-for-changes-to-paycheck-protection-program-rules-789380
  19.  “Members.” NewsGuild-CWA. October 2, 2022. https://newsguild.org/members/
  20. “Members.” NewsGuild-CWA. October 2, 2022. https://newsguild.org/members/
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: September - August
  • Tax Exemption Received: November 1, 1950

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2021 Sep Form 990 $4,105,644 $5,780,133 $4,705,527 $262,948 N $0 $3,614,799 $56,963 $353,919
    2020 Sep Form 990 $3,626,960 $5,368,871 $5,717,561 $265,387 N $0 $3,468,464 $83,496 $352,449
    2019 Sep Form 990 $3,270,642 $4,879,085 $7,282,227 $353,392 N $0 $3,226,968 $43,674 $188,802 PDF
    2018 Sep Form 990 $3,006,542 $4,625,982 $8,748,184 $258,895 N $0 $2,971,838 $34,704 $194,089 PDF
    2017 Sep Form 990 $2,901,925 $4,038,848 $10,286,246 $395,782 N $0 $2,868,305 $33,620 $135,429
    2016 Sep Form 990 $3,087,317 $3,330,696 $11,173,679 $338,123 N $0 $3,027,882 $45,233 $312,092 PDF
    2015 Sep Form 990 $3,210,186 $3,448,334 $11,122,792 $211,649 N $0 $3,161,281 $48,528 $301,048 PDF
    2014 Sep Form 990 $3,163,876 $3,239,227 $11,320,809 $137,438 N $0 $3,077,487 $63,950 $355,406 PDF
    2013 Sep Form 990 $3,508,691 $3,404,008 $11,058,202 $93,270 N $0 $3,177,031 $82,098 $358,059 PDF
    2012 Sep Form 990 $3,235,778 $3,392,518 $10,779,123 $92,214 N $0 $3,095,829 $82,052 $342,741 PDF
    2011 Sep Form 990 $3,294,746 $3,294,833 $10,534,335 $90,618 N $0 $3,159,639 $88,107 $340,913 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    NewsGuild-CWA

    1500 BROADWAY STE 900
    NEW YORK, NY 10036-4055