Writers Guild News Employees Facing Cuts Amid Pandemic Crisis – Variety


The coronavirus disaster is deepening an already dire financial outlook for the nation’s newsrooms as firms launch furloughs, layoffs and pay cuts, union leaders are asserting.

“The information enterprise is in serious trouble,” stated Lowell Peterson, government director of Writers Guild For America East. “The financial disaster has gutted advert revenues.”

Peterson defined that the three,500 newsroom staff represented by the New York-based WGA East have been totally employed for the reason that pandemic hit in March however warned that steep cuts are coming — “until the financial system turns round within the subsequent three weeks,” he stated.

“As a result of information is crucial, newsrooms haven’t been impacted to the identical diploma as many different sectors,” Peterson stated.

Peterson participated in a information convention Friday, headed by Liz Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO. Different audio system included Jon Schleuss, president of the NewsGuild – Communications Employees of America; Nadia Taha, marketing campaign lead of NewsGuild-CWA; and Caroline Houck, deputy Washington Editor, Vox.com.

“We’re consuming extra information than ever,” Shuler stated. “When journalists are shedding jobs, all of us endure.”

Taha touted union efforts to regulate to fast-changing circumstances, noting that Los Angeles Occasions union members agreed earlier this month to just accept a 20% discount in pay and hours for its members — whereas preserving their well being advantages. About 440 journalists represented by the Media Guild of the West could have their wages and hours minimize for 12 weeks, and work 4 days every week as a substitute of 5 days. The reductions are anticipated to avoid wasting greater than $2 million, in response to Taha.

Peterson additionally expressed the necessity for union solidarity amid the disaster. He famous that the WGA East had teamed this week with 4 different leisure business unions — SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, the Administrators Guild of America and the Worldwide Brotherhood of Electrical Employees — to difficulty tips dubbed “The 5 Commandments.”

The rules are as follows:

— All work that may be carried out from dwelling must be carried out from dwelling if the employee so chooses, with correct tech help.

— When work should be carried out within the newsroom, management room, studio, or within the discipline, fundamental CDC and OSHA tips on social distancing and protecting measures must be mandated, with every employee provided with ample private protecting tools (PPE).

— All worksites and discipline automobiles must be geared up with enough disinfectant provides and disinfected by skilled cleansing crews recurrently to make sure the very best hygiene in all work areas.

— Employers ought to undertake strict contact tracing plans to self-isolate those that could have been uncovered to anybody who exams constructive or displays signs in keeping with the virus.

— Layoffs, furloughs, and reductions in staff’ hours ought to solely be thought-about in any case different choices have been exhausted. Earlier than any reductions in hours/days for freelance and non permanent employees or furloughs or layoffs of workers employees, there must be good religion discussions between the union and administration (with monetary transparency) to decide on the perfect plan of action to make sure high-quality journalism and defend as many roles as doable throughout this disaster.

The information convention came about on the similar time that Vice Media Group introduced it was shedding 155 staff, or roughly 5% of its whole worldwide headcount, in response to income declines stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.


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