By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Union members at New York Times and teachers unions push back at Gaza resolutions

New York Times journalists said to number in the “dozens” have formed an “Independence Caucus” within their union to push back on what they see as efforts by the leadership to take sides in the war between Israel and Hamas.

Alexandra Bruell of The Wall Street Journal reports that “some Times staffers chafed when the NewsGuild held a virtual meeting during which some members debated the merits of issuing a statement calling for a cease-fire in Gaza and an end to U.S. government aid to Israel, a move that they said would compromise their neutrality and put colleagues in war zones at risk.”

Jon Schleuss, president of the NewsGuild-CWA, comes across in the article as someone who is being whipsawed by various factions, telling the Journal: “We had hundreds of people write to us and call us on all sides. What we had was a listening session to hear from people directly.”

You might think that a union ought to restrict its purview to wages, benefits and protecting workers from capricious managers. But the NewsGuild, whose members include non-journalists, has in fact taken stances on broader issues over the years, including statements in favor of abortion rights.

Closer to home, the Massachusetts Teachers Association’s leadership recently voted to approve a resolution that calls for a cease-fire as well as “an end to our government’s complicity with Israel’s genocidal assault on the people of Gaza and the intent to take over their territory.” David Mancuso, in the newsletter Contrarian Boston, writes that the Anti-Defamation League has called the resolution “a perverse position,” and that the Newton Teachers Association demanded that the state union “retract its statement immediately.”

It strikes me as unnecessary and counterproductive for unions to take positions that have nothing to do with the important work of representing their members — all of their members, many of whom may not be on board with the political views of their leadership.

That’s even more important with the NewsGuild, whose members are called upon to cover the news — to borrow a phrase from the Times’ past — “without fear or favor.”

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1 Comment

  1. Scott MacKay

    Good column Dan. Can’t see how getting partisan on this issue is good for either union members or journalism. Scott MacKay

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