In September 2020, credible allegations of misconduct were shared with the International NewsGuild leadership about the former president of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh. Those allegations were shared with the local leadership and the president resigned his position and retired from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. An investigation was completed by the Communications Workers of America and NewsGuild and a report was released in December 2020.
In response to member requests, a consultant was hired in March 2021 to conduct a review and listening tour with current and former members at the Post-Gazette. The final report from the listening tour assesses and evaluates the culture of the local.
The report details both suggestions for moving forward and recounts the experiences of past and current members.
We hope Guild members take the time to read the report and reflect on what you would like to see moving forward. It is not an easy read — some of the experiences are difficult to hear about, as we are sure they were difficult to recount for those involved — but it is optimistic.
Our members are committed to improving this union and it is clear through the recommendations outlined that change is possible.
These are the changes we have already begun to implement:
- Any member of the International NewsGuild Executive Council can be contacted if you experience harassment or discrimination in our union and do not feel comfortable going to your local steward or leaders. Find a list of Executive Council members and their emails here. You can also submit complaints here.
- The Executive Council will review a resolution submitted for consideration at the October Sector Conference that, after approval by delegates, will require yearly anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training for all local officers.
- Members of the Safer NewsGuild committee have proposed three changes to our parent union’s constitution for the October CWA Convention. The three amendments have been recommended by the Constitution Committee. These include adding “fighting harassment and discrimination” as a core objective of our union in Article III, clarifying that violating CWA’s Policy on Mutual Respect is a chargeable offense under Article XIX and clarifying that accusers can be victims of an offense, witnesses or someone who learns of an offense under Article XX.
- A new module will be added to the Guild’s steward training program to teach stewards how to handle and prevent harassment in our union.
- Clear instructions on how to file a charge against another member for harassment will be provided to all members.
We would also like to hear from you about what is most important. You can find a Google form here to offer feedback on the report and let us know what recommendations you consider priorities.
We’re also hosting a town hall for all NewsGuild members at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, Sept. 22. Register here.
The recommendations in the report are extensive and some will take more time to implement than others. We are committed to moving swiftly to implement the suggestions and hope to work with members as we go. Crafting a code of conduct, for example, is something that we hope includes feedback from members.
The report speaks for itself, but we wanted to add our thoughts as well:
“I’m so proud of our members speaking up about the issues they’ve faced. It’s honestly hard to read, but it’s necessary if we want to foster a union that’s radically transparent and progressive. Our members are leading the way and we will back them up with new policies to improve the culture and provide support for every member.” —Jon Schleuss, President, NewsGuild-CWA
“I am optimistic that the collective reflection on the allegations of harassment within the Pittsburgh local — along with the recommendations for improvement offered by our consultant — will help us all find better processes to ensure that our union and our workplaces are equipped to deal with harassment concerns going forward.” —Marian Needham, NewsGuild-CWA Executive Vice President
“In addition to leading the path forward, this report will aid the Guild in ensuring a safe space for all members, especially women. All members should feel that they will be heard, and that there is someone available to not only listen, but to take action and improve the policies of the Guild at both the local and national level. Guild leadership has now been tasked with strengthening the trust of members and providing a transparent plan to move forward, but it will also require the work of all members to create change.” —Alyssa Brown, Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, former secretary and co-chair Human Rights Committee
“Hearing the sincere concerns of members in our Union has been troubling, yet very enlightening. It takes more strength to engage in honest transparency than it does to ignore the signs that something is wrong. No union is perfect, but it is our absolute duty to listen to Guild members and ensure we are cultivating an atmosphere of safety for women in our Local. We must be intentional about creating and maintaining ethical processes and procedures that are clear and concise for the well being of the members we serve. Healthy development doesn’t happen overnight, but it begins with truth and humility, and by recognizing there is always room to grow.
“I believe this is the start of a more secure, collaborative future for our Union. Our goal is to move forward better equipped to serve one another through the implementation of fresh ideas, and with respect and sensitivity for our fellow counterparts.” —Lacretia Wimbley, Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh President
“I’m grateful to our members who took the time to share their experiences and ideas, and am glad Rebecca was able to provide a forum for so many to express their thoughts. This hasn’t been an easy process but it was a necessary one – and it’s just the start.” —Lauren Rosenblatt, Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh Third Vice President, Co-chair Human Rights Committee
“It was a long process from the place we started to where we are today. Reading each of these testaments touches us all in our hearts. From the courage of those who spoke to our consultant and opened up about their own experiences, I find strength. Our union is made stronger when we give voice to those who remained silent about what they felt was wrong but could not share for fear of not being believed. I am proud of what has been done by our leadership to approach this problem directly and to work on solutions to avoid the now decades-long period of silence over serious wrongdoing. This is just the beginning.” —Grace Catania, Chicago NewsGuild Vice-President.
The Listening Tour Task Force
Lacretia Wimbley, Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh president
Lauren Rosenblatt, Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh third vice president, co-chair Human Rights Committee
Alyssa Brown, Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh former secretary, co-chair Human Rights Committee
Grace Catania, Chicago NewsGuild vice president, former chairperson CWA National Women’s Committee
Jon Schleuss, NewsGuild-CWA president
Marian Needham, NewsGuild-CWA executive vice president