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She says, he says: nope, it ain’t the US Democratic primaries…

For the first time in more than a decade, members of The Newspaper Guild– which include those who pay dues to the CMG– will vote in the race to lead the organization that represents media workers within our international union, the Communications Workers of America.

The election for TNG president is pitting incumbent Linda Foley against current Secretary-Treasurer Bernie Lunzer, the duo that came to power on the same ticket in an election upset in 1995. Campaigning, which began months ago, heated up last month at the TNG sector conference in Rhode Island, when the nominations became official and six of eleven positions on the board were filled by acclamation.

“Over the past 12 years I have seen the Guild start to move … away from its core values, and, just as I did in 1992, I want to be part of the effort to pull it back — to restore its commitment to member participation and local autonomy,” the challenger says on his campaign website. Lunzer worked in advertising, marketing, circulation and the newsroom at the St. Paul Pioneer Press before being hired by his Guild local in 1989.

Foley, who was a reporter and copy editor at the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky when she got involved in the Guild in the 1970s, defends her record with a long list of accomplishments that include forging a partnership with CWA, organizing media workers in North America, and advocating against the concentration of private media ownership.

Foley’s slate includes Scott Stephens for Secretary-Treasurer and Lois Kirkup, president of the Ottawa Newspaper Guild, for International Chair (go to www.teamguild.org for more information on the Foley slate). Click here for a flyer created by Canadian supporters of Foley.

Running with Lunzer are current International Chair Carol Rothman, who is seeking the Secretary-Treasurer job, and Connie Knox for International Chair (go to www.astrongerguild.org for more information on the Lunzer slate). Click here for a flyer from the Lunzer campaign.

Drama during Rhode Island debate
Drama unfolded during a debate in Rhode Island between the two presidential candidates. Foley was taken to task by a member of Lunzer’s team for criticizing the U.S. military in 2005 for targeting journalists in Baghdad during 2003 military attacks on both the Palestine Hotel and Al-Jazeera. Foley’s position is that she said what she needed to say to defend the interests of journalists. Lunzer retorted that he would never have said what Foley said, eliciting surprise from the crowd.

“The Guild cannot afford to have a president who doesn’t understand that we must always speak out in defense of journalists,” says a posting on the Foley campaign website, which accompanies a You Tube video of the candidate.

“When the Palestine Hotel was shelled in Iraq I knew what I felt,” counters Lunzer on his campaign site. “I was angry. But since I couldn’t determine what had taken place, I wouldn’t have commented about it. I use the same standards that I used in the newsroom– substantiate, verify, then communicate. It’s what you should expect.”

In an article in Editor & Publisher, Lunzer clarifies that he found the attacks on Al Jazeera “deplorable,” but that there was “no proof (the U.S. military) set out to attack the media at the Palestine Hotel” (see full article here: http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003719956).

Candidates answer CMG questions
At the same time, there appear to be few things to distinguish the TNG presidential candidates when it comes to substantive issues affecting Canadian members. In their responses to a questionnaire from CMG, both candidates tip their hats to CMG’s leadership in areas such as organizing, reaching out to and involving new members and increasing the profile of equity and human rights work within the broader union. Both vow to address technological and other change in the media industry via joint committees with employers. Both promise to help the CWA/SCA Canada director get a vote on CWA’s international executive board and suggest that changes need to be made to the CWA Defense Fund to allow for more flexibility for alternative strategies– such as websites and blogs– to help win labour disputes.

Click here to read the candidates’ complete answers to the questions developed by the CMG national executive, which has decided to remain neutral in the race.

CMG members based in Eastern Canada, east of Manitoba, will also vote in the election for TNG’s vice president of Canada East. Barbara Saxberg, CMG’s director of education and a producer at CBC, is running against Darren Pittman, president of the Halifax Guild and a photographer at the ChronicleHerald. For Saxberg’s campaign website, go to www.barbarasaxberg.ca. Click here to download Saxberg’s campaign poster. Click here for a flyer from Pittman’s campaign. CMG vice president Scott Edmonds was acclaimed as Canada West VP.

As well, nominations are open until March 31 for the two elected positions at CWA/SCA Canada: Director, a full-time paid position, and Deputy Director. The director currently sits on the international CWA executive board with voice and no vote and also sits on the TNG board.

Update – April 2: Arnold Amber has been acclaimed as Director and Martin O’Hanlon as Deputy Director of CWA/SCA Canada.

Elections for the TNG positions will take place in late April. Watch for information in your email and regular mail boxes on how to participate in the elections. Click here for more information about the TNG elections.

CMG is the largest local within TNG, which represents 34,000 media workers in Canada, the U.S. and Puerto Rico. TNG serves as a sector within the larger Communication Workers of America, which boasts a total of 700,000 members in North America working in media, telecommunications, government service, health care, education and airlines.

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