Guardian US Votes Unanimously To Unionize

The staff of the Guardian US voted unanimously Wednesday to unionize under the News Media Guild, an action that comes amid a spate of labor organizing in newsrooms.

“The Guardian has a long tradition of supporting union effort,” a spokeswoman for the Guardian US chapter of the News Media Guild said in an email to The Huffington Post.

“The move by Guardian US editorial staff to seek collective representation is consistent with the strong history of working in strong partnership with unions in the UK and Australia,” she continued. “The vote was unanimous and we look forward to working constructively with Guardian management moving forward.”

The Guardian, a British newspaper and widely read international news site, launched a New York-based U.S. edition in 2011. Guardian US led the news organization’s reporting in 2013 on disclosures from National Security Administration whistleblower Edward Snowden, winning a Pulitzer Prize in Public Service the following year.

In a separate statement, Guardian US staff thanked new U.S. editor Lee Glendinning for “immediately welcom[ing] our initiative to seek collective representation.”

“Our discussions with Guardian management have been conducted in a constructive manner and we’re confident we can all achieve our stated goal — a long-term, sustainable future for the Guardian and its quality journalism,” read the statement, which appears in full below.

The Guardian US’s move Wednesday comes as unionizing is increasingly discussed in newsrooms, especially as digital news sites without a legacy of collective bargaining have organized. Gawker voted to unionize in June and Salon announced plans to do so earlier this month.

On Tuesday, Mike Elk, a labor reporter at Politico who is trying to organize his own newsroom,broached the topic with Vermont senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

The NewsGuild, part of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), now represents over 2,000 digital workers at outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Associated Press and The Daily Beast. The News Media Guild is the local chapter of the NewsGuild.

A NewsGuild-CWA spokeswoman told The Huffington Post the union is currently in active campaigns with other digital media organizations. Union leaders praised the Guardian US’s organizing effort in statements Wednesday.

“The Guardian has a history of great reporting that continues today,” said Martha Waggoner, president of The News Media Guild, the local chapter that Guardian US staffers will join. “It’s a publication with a grand tradition of unionism that now includes its U.S. writers.”
Bernard Lunzer, president of The NewsGuild-CWA, said it’s “a big day not only for the writers and staff members at The Guardian US but for the news industry as a whole.”
“Digital media is growing up,” he continued, “and it’s time our digital reporters received the same benefits and protections as their print media colleagues.”

Domtar Announced Strong Results in Pulp, Paper, Personal Care for Q2 2015

Excluding items listed below, the Company had earnings before items1 of $39 million ($0.61 per share) for the second quarter of 2015 compared to earnings before items1 of $48 million ($0.75 per share) for the first quarter of 2015 and earnings before items1 of $40 million ($0.61 per share) for the second quarter of 2014.

Second quarter 2015 items:

  • Closure and restructuring costs of $1 million ($1 million after tax);
  • Gain on disposal of property, plant and equipment of $14 million ($11 million after tax); and
  • Impairment of property, plant & equipment of $18 million ($11 million after tax).

First quarter 2015 items:

  • Closure and restructuring costs of $1 million ($1 million after tax);
  • Gain on disposal of property, plant and equipment of $1 million ($1 million after tax); and
  • Impairment of property, plant & equipment of $19 million ($12 million after tax).

John Williams, president and CEO, said, “Our pulp and paper business performed largely in-line with expectations. Our operations ran well despite the seasonally high level of scheduled maintenance at our mills. The flooding in the U.S. South negatively impacted some of our wood costs and supply, but production curtailments were limited. Our paper shipments year-to-date are outperforming the broader North American uncoated freesheet market by 2.3 percent. As the trade case progresses, we will continue to monitor further opportunities resulting from lower cut-size imports while continuing to balance our capacity versus our customer demand.”

Williams added, “Personal Care turned in a solid performance. Same currency sales increased 3 percent year over year while our cost savings program continued to deliver according to plan, driving a 300 basis-point margin improvement. Momentum in the business is growing, and we are operating and executing with more consistency. We remain focused on sharpening our strategies and capabilities that will deliver sustainable growth and value creation in this segment.”

Looking into the second half of 2015, Domtar paper shipments are expected to trend with market demand and should benefit from lower import volumes in North America. We expect some short-term pricing volatility in pulp, as normal seasonal factors in certain markets take hold. Inflation on input costs is expected to be relatively flat; fiber costs will remain high in certain markets, but are not expected to increase further, while energy costs should remain favorable. Personal Care is expected to benefit from further cost savings and market growth, but the segment will be impacted by some seasonality in the third quarter

Think Patented Sees 20 Percent Boost from Heidelberg’s Performance Plus

 As a result of its participation in Heidelberg’s Performance Plus program, Think Patented of Miamisburg, Ohio, successfully and substantially reduced its make ready waste, increased performance and saved significant production cost.

When the company installed a Speedmaster XL 106-5+L UV in April 2013, its press operators faced switching from another manufacturer’s 15-year-old offset press to print technology from Heidelberg. Given the challenges inherent in the transition, when they were made aware of the potential benefits of Heidelberg’s Performance Plus program in November 2014, both Niels Winther, chairman and managing partner and CEO Ken McNerney were very interested.

In collaboration with Heidelberg, Think Patented established five project goals, including (1) identifying potential savings to lower operating cost; (2) standardizing pressroom practices; (3) maintaining the predictability of its pressroom performance for better scheduling accuracy; (4) adding capacity, due to reductions in production and makeready times; and (5) enhancing the competitive position of the business for future growth.

Following a thorough evaluation of the company’s production data and overall processes, Heidelberg identified several opportunities to achieve maximum operational improvement, including:

  • Value Stream Mapping Workshop with participants from all departments to generate team-building and motivation;
  • Operator Evaluation to define the need for additional training;
  • Providing the needed training;
  • Prinect Press Optimization, to promote quick color changes with minimal makeready sheets; and
  • Monthly project management conference calls to review progress toward the stated goals of the program.

In all, Performance Plus targeted nine specific actions, chosen from among Heidelberg’s extensive Systemservice portfolio, to establish best practices and implement processes that would help Think Patented realize significant production savings.

“The Performance Data [analysis] and leading by the numbers [helped] tremendously to manage the plant,” McNerney noted. “It takes the subjectivity away.”

When the actions were complete, the 12-month program was seen to have saved more than 620 production hours, resulting in a total savings of $237,720. These savings were achieved by means of a 50 percent reduction in makeready waste and a 20 percent average performance increase.

“It was crucial to identify training gaps, [and to] resolve applications and process issues. We have better printers and quality processes as a result,” Winther explained. “We are happy with the outcome of our [Performance Plus] efforts.”