Union leaders insist the Carnavirus crisis is deepening an already deadly economic outlook for the country’s newsrooms.
“The news business is in deep trouble,” said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Eastern Writers Guild of America. “Economic crisis has boosted advertising revenue”
Peterson explained that the 3,500 employees representing the former New York-based WGA have been fully recruited since the outbreak in March, and warned that “unless the economy recovers in the next three weeks,” he said.
Peterson said, “Since news is essential, the newsroom has not been affected to the same degree as other sectors.
Peterson attended a press conference on Friday led by AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Schuler. Other speakers included Newsgild President – American Communications Officer; Nadia Taha, Newsgild-CWA’s publicity campaign; And Caroline Hook, deputy Washington editor, Vox.com.
“We’re using more news than ever before,” Schuller said. “When journalists lose their jobs, we all suffer.”
It called on the union’s efforts to adapt to the rapidly changing situation, saying that members of the Los Angeles Times Union had agreed to a 20% reduction in their members’ salaries and times earlier this month while maintaining their health benefits. About 440 journalists representing the Western Media Guild will have their salaries and hours cut for 12 weeks and work four days a week instead of five. Accordingly, the reduction is expected to save another মিল 2 million.
Peterson also expressed the need for union solidarity in the crisis. He noted that the WGA East had formed the five teams in collaboration with the four entertainment industry unions – Sag-Aftara, IATSE, the American Directors Guild and the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers – and issued guidelines called “Five Orders”.
The guidelines are as follows:
– All the work that can be done from home should be done from home if the employees like with the help of proper technology.
– When working in the newsroom, control room, studio or field, initial CDC and OSHA guidelines on social distance and safety measures should be made mandatory, every employee should be provided with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).
– All work sites and field vehicles should be equipped with adequate disinfectant supplies and professional cleaning staff should be disinfected regularly to ensure optimum hygiene in all work areas.
– Strict contact tracing plans should be adopted for self-isolation of employers who may be in contact with anyone who tests or shows signs that are compatible with the virus.
– Only after all other options have been exhausted should the staff-employee be considered to be intermittent and reduced. Before any reduction in hours / days for retrenchment of freelance and temporary workers or fallows or staff, there should be a discussion of the best practices of the union and management (with financial transparency) to ensure high quality journalism and protect jobs as much as possible during this crisis. .
The press conference came at a time when Vice Media Group announced that 155 employees or about 5% of its total headcount worldwide were leaving in response to the decline in revenue from the coronavirus epidemic.