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PORTSIDE  June 2011, Week 5

PORTSIDE June 2011, Week 5

Subject:

Newspaper Guild President: Huffington Post Strike Isn't Over

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Thu, 30 Jun 2011 19:46:14 -0400

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Newspaper Guild President: Huffington Post Strike Isn't Over

by Steven Nelson

The Daily Caller
June 29, 2011

http://dailycaller.com/2011/06/29/newspaper-guild-president-huffington-post-strike-isnt-over/

This year's strike by unpaid bloggers against the Huffington
Post isn't over, Newspaper Guild President Bernie Lunzer
tells The Daily Caller.

Lunzer remains optimistic that the strike, launched after
the Huffington Post was sold to AOL for $315 million in
February, will end in success for bloggers seeking
compensation.

"We're still conducting the boycott. We are still convinced
that we will be able to sit down and talk to try to resolve
the differences. And we still think that in the end we will
have a constructive resolution that writers will
appreciate," Lunzer said in an interview.

In March, the 26,000-member Newspaper Guild threw its
substantial weight behind the strike. Lunzer acknowledged
that there has not been a meeting between strike organizers
and the Huffington Post since the Guild first requested a
meeting in March.

The Newspaper Guild's interest in the strike is not
localized, Lunzer said, explaining that "we don't want to
end up with a system where you're lucky if you get a
byline." Hard-hitting local and investigative reporting is
on the decline, he said, noting that "our concern is that
there is a place for professional journalism, and that
professional journalism gets paid for."

Arianna Huffington, who strike initiator Bill Lasarow of
Visual Art Source previously labeled "a hypocrite" for her
handling of the strike, shouldn't be vilified, Lunzer said.

"We think that because of the values that Arianna stands
for: She is progressive, she does care about social justice,
we thought she was someone who would actually listen to us
and help us," Lunzer said, adding, "I still firmly believe
that."

In its early months, the strike caught headlines with a
provocative let-them-eat-cake response from Arianna
Huffington, who said, "Go ahead, go on strike," and
dismissed "the idea of going on strike when no one really
notices."

Lunzer said that, despite the brush-off, "I'm sure that she
would rather that it was resolved."

Chicago-based magazine In These Times reported earlier this
month that the electronic "picket line" called for by
organizers was being respected by several prominent
progressives, but not all. The magazine listed Pulitzer
Prize-winner Chris Hedges and author Max Blumenthal as
strike supporters, and noted that AFL-CIO President Richard
Trumka has refused to blog for the site.
http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/11520/labor_funded_progressive_leaders_cross_picket_line_write_unpaid_for_hu/

Robert Creamer of Americans United for Change, the husband
of Illinois Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky, continues to
submit blog entries. He told In These Times, "I strongly
favor the unionization of the employees of every employer in
America - including Huffington Post," but that "my
relationship - and that of other bloggers on Huff Post -
have a completely different quality that than of a
professional journalist."

Lunzer said that he was "sort of insulted" by Creamer's
comments. "It's not like we don't understand the
difference," Lunzer said, describing that not all bloggers
are professionals, but that a substantial number have a
relationship with the company comparable to that of an
employee.

The electronic picket line "should be respected by people
who respect labor," Lunzer said.

In These Times reported that the National Writers Union
(NWU), affiliated with the United Auto Workers, has hired a
full-time organizer to focus on the Huffington Post
campaign. Some unions "have floated the idea of labeling
people who cross the picket line as scabs and have floated
the idea of potentially cutting off funding to organizations
that continue to blog at the Huffington Post," the magazine
reported.

A June post on NWU's website calls on supporters to "honor
the electronic picket line" and not to "post or share
articles on the Huffington Post until this is resolved."
According to the post, the strike is being led by NWU, the
Newspaper Guild and the Huffington Post Union of Bloggers
and Writers, a recently-formed NWU affiliate with a
confidential membership roll.

Lasarow, who announced the strike but no longer takes an
active role leading it, told TheDC that he is confident in
the Guild's leadership. "As the arm of the AFL-CIO that
focuses on the interests of professional writers and
journalists, The Newspaper Guild is exactly the right
organization to be leading this strike," Lasarow said.

A resolution to the strike appears to depend on The
Huffington Post's willingness to discuss possible solutions.

"Our goal is to sit down with the Huffington Post," Lunzer
said. "We think we likely will be able to get a meeting and
be able to resolve this." A spokesman for the Huffington
Post did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

___________________________________________

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