CWA Newspaper Guild Boycott Of Huff Post Over

CWA Newspaper Guild

Oct. 20, 2011

An open letter to our members and supporters:

First, thanks to everyone who has supported our labor action this year by ceasing unpaid contributions to the Huffington Post, and by helping spread the word to friends and colleagues.

We have asked, from the beginning, that Arianna Huffington and her staff meet with us to discuss the need for a model that compensates journalists for their efforts. Such meetings have now taken place, and the company has publicly pledged to work with us to resolve our differences.

We are pleased to see HuffPost leaders stating so clearly the importance of paid journalism, not only to our society as a whole, but to their own business model.
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Bold Action Isn’t Always Best—at Least at First

by Mike Elk

Mike Elk

A few months ago, Ezra Klein and I got in an argument about former SEIU labor organizer Stephen Lerner’s idea of a mass strategic default on mortgages, in which many Americans whose mortgages are “underwater” would default on their mortgages in order to hurt big banks and force them to deal with the foreclosure crisis. Klein wrote: “It’s unlikely that the union movement would actually adopt Lerner’s plans, or that they’d even have the power to make good on them if they wanted to adopt them.”

Aside from radical farmers in the Dust Bowl during the 1930s, a a strategic mortgage default campaign is practically unheard of in American history. Unions have never tried this, and it would be unlikely they could cause enough defaults to hurt the banks. Unions rarely are successful in significantly hurting the profits of major corporations when they threaten boycotts against corporations. But the threat of a boycott (rather than the actual boycott) can be a powerful tool in forcing a corporate executive to negotiate because of the negative publicity boycotts can produce, and the anxiety an unpredictable corporate campaign of escalation can produce for executives.

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National Writers Union Withdraws from Huffington Post Boycott

National Writers Union

Today, the National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981 is withdrawing from the boycott of the Huffington Post, which began after it was acquired by AOL for $315 million last March. NWU and The Newspaper Guild-CWA have been “electronic picket captains” with the support of many, many progressive writers, bloggers and organizations. For now, the boycott has run its course.

But the NWU is continuing and intensifying our Pay The Writer! campaign to establish fair pay rates for freelance journalists working for the Huffington Post and other online publications. On October 11, we held our first national event, a live-streamed panel discussing the future of online freelance journalism (video available on www.paythewriter.org). We will continue to organize around these principles:

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Why Huffington Post ‘fired’ me

by Mike Elk

Mike Elk

Last Thursday, I was “fired” as a labor blogger from the Huffington Post by executive business editor Peter Goodman for helping a group of union construction workers disrupt a conference of bankers. (I put fired in quotations marks because I, like the majority of people who blog for the site, was not paid for my contributions.) The workers demanded to know why Pulte Group’s vice chairwoman was leading the summit, and how her company grabbed a $900 million government bailout made up of funds that came from the Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009. That bill was intended to create jobs and extend benefits to unemployed workers, but union workers said no jobs were created with this money.
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