Why we’re challenging the NewsGuild election

The numbers that came out of the NewsGuild of New York election on Nov. 18 were as clear as they were disappointing. Grant Glickson and his Members First Slate got decisively more votes than our Growing Stronger Coalition slate, and Grant himself got 59 percent of the votes.

Grant is to be congratulated for running a vigorous campaign. The numbers tell an undeniable story in which Grant captured a clear majority of a huge voter turnout – more than twice as many members voted than they did three years ago. But the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

That’s why we on the Growing Stronger Coalition are challenging the election results.

Grant, his running mates and supporters violated rules and laws, including the prohibition against using employer email and other resources for campaigning. This gave their campaign an unfair advantage in getting out the vote. The evidence is clear and irrefutable. The only question is whether the impact of the violations was significant enough to affect the votes of some 260 or more members.

That is about to be decided by the Guild’s independent Local Election Committee, which has been refereeing this race all along.

Grant and his campaign were based at The New York Times, by far the biggest of the Guild’s 21 units with more than 1,000 of our local’s 2,600 eligible members. When Grant ran for Guild president three years ago, only about 250 Times members voted. This time it was 681, nearly half of the 1,414 who actually voted. Part of the surge may be attributed to hard campaigning and the prospect of electing a hometown favorite. But improper use of Times email and other company and union resources played a major role. Yes, Grant’s victory margin was substantial. But I believe it couldn’t have happened without the violations that were committed.

RULING EXPECTED MOMENTARILY

The committee is expected to rule any minute now. If it agrees with our challenge, it must order a new election. If not, it will let the current results stand. Under our system, either Grant or I may appeal the decision through a progression of steps that ends with the Labor Department. Right now, our team is taking things one step at a time.

Whatever the committee decides, a new election cannot be held before my term expires on Jan. 1, 2017. That means Grant will be the NewsGuild president on Jan. 2. As such, we need to remain unified as we struggle with our employers and pursue the goals on which we all agree. We owe him an open mind. But he owes us accountability.

In a Nov. 23 victory message to members, Grant promised to see to the needs of all of the Guild’s 21 units, and insisted that framing the election as one of Times members versus all other members “could not be further from the case.”

That’s encouraging, but it was Grant who did the framing. In an Oct. 5 email in which he announced his candidacy to Times members, he promised to dedicate one of the Guild’s reps exclusively to The Times, and said “the president of the NewsGuild must make our unit a priority and provide services commensurate with the $1.1 million we pay in Guild dues every year.”

Now he’s requesting to be put on the Guild payroll immediately and that we not settle any more contracts until he takes office. I’m saying no to that. While I’m happy to discuss transition matters, the tone of that request, which also sought a massive amount of information, suggests that he’s considering a major staff overhaul. The Guild is stronger because of the stability, dedication and professionalism of our staff, and if there are changes to be made, they should not be made with a meat cleaver.

In contrast to his letter to me, Grant’s recent message to members was conciliatory and unity-oriented. He promised to act transparently. We should take him at his word. But we also should watch closely.

In Unity,

Peter Szekely, Guild President
and the Growing Stronger Coalition

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