As Labor Day approaches we must remember our history and make a decision about our future. The Newspaper Guild in Detroit has a long history of participating in the Labor Day March and using the event as a platform for our message.
In the early days, the message was about joining the union. Today, the message is fair contracts and protecting journalism. The message has changed, but the need to build public support has not. Journalism and our workplace rights are being attacked from every angle. Now is the time we need to stand up or be stomped down.
Journalism is key to any democracy and silencing the press is a step in a very dark direction. The destruction of the newspaper industry is happening before our eyes. New hedge fund owners are stripping papers to the bone. Even more traditional owners, such as Gannett, are dramatically cutting staff and coverage to increase profit.
Journalists suffer under threat of constant cutbacks and reorganizations. We have seen colleague laid-off and coverage shrink with staff. Communities suffer when there is no one to cover important issues. Journalists have always served as watchdogs and have held the powerful accountable, which why we have a target on our back and must fight.
There is no more important time to stand up for journalism and your rights than now. Our four biggest units, the Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, the Observer & Eccentric newspapers, along with the Macomb Daily and Daily Tribune, will head into collective bargaining in early 2019. The industry trend implies a long list of concessions will come down the pipeline. Are you ready to fight?
As you ask yourself this question, remember: Labor Day is not just the last holiday before school starts — It is a chance to stand up and let the community know what we stand for and what’s at stake for us and them.
If you are not willing to show up and put in the effort to fight for yourself and journalism, we will certainly lose. Please take a couple of hours on Labor Day to attend the march. No one likes getting up early or leaving the house on a day off. We all are busy. But are we too busy to stand up for what is right and ensure that you and your fellow journalists get fair contracts in 2019?
See you on Monday.