Thursday, December 8, 2022

Don't play Wordle today.

     Writing is my job. And because of the topics I tackle, and the way I go about addressing them, the emphasis is usually on the first part of that sentence, the writing. I'm proud of that. But today, I'd like to talk about the second part, the job. The Sun-Times has been my place of employment since March 23, 1987, and it's been a good job, thanks in large part to the Chicago Newspaper Guild, which won a decent salary and generous benefits and fought off all efforts to undermine them. Thanks to the union, I was able to buy a house, put two boys through college, travel. If I got sick, I had health insurance to offer me the best care, was paid while I recuperated. It shocked me to realize that rail workers, during the recent negotiations, were simply trying to get paid sick leave. It's bad enough to be sick. But to be lose your income as well....
     As you might know, the guild at the Sun-Times is negotiating a contract with our new owners, Chicago Public Media.  Probably the less I say about that, the better. The talks progress, and I'm not in a position to know whether they are going faster or slower than previously. Though from what I glean from union communications, the warm, humane velvet glove that WBEZ projects to the public seems to be concealing an iron fist, at least when it comes to negotiating with their employees. There's a big union meeting Friday, and I should know more then.    
     We're not alone here. The union for the New York Times, one of the most successful newspapers in the world, is staging a one-day walkout, and has asked its subscribers to make a little sacrifice today to show their support by avoiding the NYT platform. Don't check the news. Don't play the games. I usually play Wordle first thing, a five minute cracking of the mental knuckles before I get down to the business of doing my job, writing stuff. And I use the news app throughout the day.
     But not today.
     Not today, for reasons outlined in the tweet above. And my wife, who is even more of a word game junkie, tackling Wordle and Quordle, Spelling Bee and the Crossword Puzzle, has agreed to go cold turkey, for today, to remind the suits at the Times that their readers are not panjandrums, like the owners, but regular working folks, like the writers, who don't like to see other workers kicked around. 
     I hope you'll join us.
     It's a very small sacrifice to make for a very large and important principle: that there is no reason why working people can't enjoy the fruits of their labor, and have stable, rewarding jobs with good benefits that add up to satisfying lives. I think we've become so used to corporations squeezing profits out of their employees that we've forgotten there is another way. There is. I know that from first hand experience.


  1. 've been a member of two unions during my life, and I'm happy to support another one by joining this boycott. Power to the union!

  2. OK— no Wordle for me today. I hesitated to say I will stay off the NYT app and website, but I’ll do it in solidarity with you and your fellow newspaper people.


  3. "PANJANDRUMS" pan·jan·drum
    /ˌpanˈjandr(ə)m/ (noun)
    A person who has or claims to have a great deal of authority or influence.

    Hadda look this one up, but I'll use it in a sentence 5 times today.

    Thanks, Neil.

  4. Doug, here. Your union sounds like one of the very best. Count me in.

  5. My husband is also protesting at O’Hare.

  6. Member of Carpenters local 13. In for this.
    Would have liked to seen more support for the railroad workers sick days

  7. I’m avoiding the NYTimes today but, as a former NYer, I remember that Guild strikes killed two papers I read: the Brooklyn Eagle and the NY Herald Tribune.

    1. That was 60 years ago. Your remark is sort of like impugning hospitals because people die there. Nobody wants a strike, but they do occur, and are sometimes unavoidable, like death.

    2. Great answer, Mr. S. Nobody wants a war, either, because they bring so much pain and loss. But they do occur, and they are sometimes unavoidable. Like WWII. Or Ukraine.

      I was a member of the Chicago Newspaper Guild in the late Seventies. Local 71. Still have my union card. The very first Guild local, (Local 1, natch) was right here in Cleveland. It no longer exists. Its last contract, with our last surviving newspaper, expired in 2017. The Plain Dealer finally killed it.

      Some labor history: The Newspaper Guild was formed in 1933, during the wave of unionization that arose during the Great Depression. It affiliated with the American Federation of Labor in 1936 and with the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1937...after expanding to include non-editorial employees (The two organizations merged in 1955, as the AFL-CIO). The Guild also expanded to Canada in the 1950s. Membership reached a peak of 34,000 in the 1980s.

      In 1995, the Guild became a sector of the 700,000-member Communications Workers of America, which includes employees in the telecommunications industry, information technology, airline industry, public service, and other fields.

      The Newspaper Guild renamed itself The News Guild in 2015, to reflect the changes in the industry. The Guild began representing digital employees, who worked in separate departments from print employees, in the 1990s. Representation of employees of online news sites began after 2000.

      Solidarity Forever!

  8. Love the Times , but I'll not cross a picket line , even if it is virtual...

    1. Completely unrelated to today's topic, but based on the coincidence of his commenting here, I'm gonna throw this in.

      Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller was in town Tuesday, speaking and reading a bit from his new book, "Random" at the Harold Washington Library Center. Quite entertaining, of course, but I'm posting this particularly because a couple friendly shout-outs to Mr. Fitzpatrick, who was evidently in the audience, were included.

      From 43:04 to 43:15 and then again from 56:27 to 57:03 in this video. "A very, very thinly disguised Tony Fitzpatrick shows up" in the book.

  9. Didn’t realize how addicted I am to Wordle.
    I definitely support unions and will start a new streak tomorrow.

  10. I realize I forgot to mention how much I enjoyed the dates where you presented Chicagos connection to the history of the labor movement. great stuff great book. rereading parts of it and looking up additional info on so many topics and occurrences.

  11. Sorry! I already played today! I could boycott tomorrow if it still sends a message.


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