Friday, June 15, 2012

Six (6) Corporation own 90% of all American print, broadcast, and digital media outlets

Infographic: Media Consolidation – The Illusion of Choice

How much choice does the mainstream US media really offer? Family financial blogger Frugal Dad has created this infographic that lays out the extent of media consolidation in the US, where just six media giants control 90% of all TV, news, radio and film.

Media Consolidation Infographic Source: Frugal dad
View more Infographics on

Rare Union Win in For-Profit Sector by TNG-CWA at Kaplan

"Inside Higher Ed" posted a nice piece on the Kaplan campaign at


Rare Union Win in For-Profit Sector
June 15, 2012 - 3:00am
By Scott Jaschik

Faculty unions have struggled to make inroads in for-profit higher education. Organizing drives have been few and far between. One of the last major efforts was by the American Federation of Teachers, which made an unsuccessful bid in 2010 to represent instructors at the Art Institute of Seattle.

But this week the Newspaper Guild of New York is celebrating a vote to unionize nearly 100 instructors in English as a Second Language who work for a Kaplan Inc. division in New York City. Kaplan's ESL operations in New York City are not part of the company's higher education division, but are part of the larger corporation.

Final certification is still pending from the National Labor Relations Board, but there were only three contested ballots (which were excluded), and the vote for the union was 56 to 28.
The instructors are the first at Kaplan to be unionized.

Bill O'Meara, president of the New York area chapter of the Newspaper Guild, said that the Kaplan instructors had sought out the union, rather than that the union went after this particular organizing target. He said that the Kaplan employees had talked to a teachers' union before approaching the Newspaper Guild. Another local of the Newspaper Guild represents journalists at The Washington Post, whose parent company owns Kaplan. O'Meara said that the Post tie may have mattered only indirectly. He said that the members of the union's new unit learned about the Newspaper Guild from its past representation of Newsweek journalists (before the magazine was sold by the Post).

HAPPY DAY - Kaplan ESL teachers and New York Guild officers and staff celebrate moments after a June 7 NLRB-run election showed that they chose Guild representation by a 2-1 margin. Front row from left, Nicole van Beek, Jon Blanchette, Niki St. Clair, Shana Dagenhart and Paul Hlava. Back row, Guild President Bill O’Meara, Toby Cahn, Benjamin Bush, Michaela Bucklin-Lane, Guild organizer Nastaran Mohit, Guild Secretary-Treasurer Peter Szekely and Guild Representative Anthony Napoli. 

A Guild announcement of the new union said that some instructors -- many of whom havemaster's degrees -- are paid as little as minimum wage, and that benefits are minimal. Asked if the union would look for other potential members in for-profit education, O'Meara said that the Kaplan employees were the first teachers in his branch of the Guild, but that he was open to future organizing. "I think any employees who aren't being treated the way they should be by their employer should look at unionization," he said, including those in for-profit higher education. "Our union will fight for them."

A spokesman for Kaplan declined to comment on the various claims made by the union. "I think you have to take what they say from their perspective," he said.
Inside Higher Ed is the online source for news, opinion and jobs for all of higher education. Whether you're an adjunct or a vice president, a grad student or an eminence grise, we've got what you need to thrive in your job or find a better one: breaking news and feature stories, provocative daily commentary, areas for comment on every article, practical career columns, and a powerful suite of tools to help higher education professionals get jobs and colleges identify and hire employees.

One-Stop Shopping: Guild Newspapers, Guild Doughnuts

At  the ribbon-cutting for the new Hudson News-Dunkin' Donuts stores, from left, New York Guild President Bill O'Meara; Hudson News VP for operations, NY area, Terry Lent; New York Guild Rep. Anthony Napoli; Penn Station Hudson News manager Joe Khan; and Hannan Khan (no relation), Guild unit chair at Hudson News.
You’re racing through New York’s Penn Station with just enough time to grab coffee and a doughnut. Speed walk your way right past that other national chain and head into one of two – soon to be three – Hudson News stores with new full-service Dunkin’ Donuts shops.

You’ll be buying pastry with a union label – more specifically, treats and sandwiches baked and sold by 60 of the newest members of The Newspaper Guild-CWA.

“To the best of our knowledge, these are the only unionized Dunkin’ Donuts stores in the entire country,” said Bill O’Meara, president of the New York Guild, which organized the city’s Hudson News newsstand employees 12 years ago.

The local represents about 240 Hudson retail and warehouse workers at Penn Station, Grand Central, the Port Authority and other New York City locations. But hard copies of newspapers and magazines don’t sell as well as they once did, with so many readers getting their news online.

Last year, Guild-represented Hudson workers told the union about a rumored deal to build Dunkin’ Donuts counters in space Hudson no longer needs. “We had a meeting with Hudson about it, and they said, ‘Yes,” they would be willing to negotiate those jobs under our existing contract,” O’Meara said.

The Guild has built a cordial, cooperative relationship with Hudson News, and managers acknowledged as much when it came to discussing the Dunkin’ Donuts workers, he said.

It wasn’t always that way, though. Management successfully defeated organizing drives in the late 1990s, the first by another union, the second by the Guild.

But on a third try in 2000, workers voted for Guild representation. Since then, O’Meara said, contract negotiations and other issues have been handled fairly smoothly. “We’ve only had one arbitration in all that time, and we won - - the worker got his job back.”

Creating the combined stores took away some of Hudson’s newsstand space, but none of the newsstand jobs, O’Meara said. Even when the stores were off-limits for construction of the Dunkin’ Donuts counters, there were no layoffs.

With the permission of Amtrak – Penn Station’s primary tenant – Hudson was able to open temporary newsstands.  Had Amtrak balked, O’Meara said, “We’d told Hudson that we’d lobby for them if they needed us to, that we’d make it clear that the union was very interested in making sure its members stayed employed. Management was very appreciative of that.”

The newly combined stores at Penn Station are just the first for Hudson’s New York group. Ultimately, there could be dozens, each one staffed by Guild members. The first two Hudson-based Dunkin’ Donuts already employ 60 workers.

Like Hudson’s Guild-represented employees, the Dunkin’ Donuts workers are fully covered by the union contract, and are accruing vacation and sick leave, have access to medical plans and to CWA’s 401(k) plan. Bargaining begins this summer for a new contract for all the Hudson-Dunkin’ workers.

O’Meara encouraged all locals to look for opportunities to “follow the work,” organizing employees who may have only an ancillary link to traditional Guild jobs. “Even Hudson News was ancillary for us, but the link was that they sell the newspapers our members work for,” he said.

Adding Dunkin’ to the mix makes for a Guild trifecta:  Waiting for your train at Penn Station, he said, you can “read a story written by a Guild member, in a newspaper rung up by a Guild member, while having coffee and a doughnut sold by yet another Guild member.” 
 Dunkin' Donuts Workers Join TNG-CWA
If you're passing through New York's Penn Station, be sure to stop for a doughnut with the union label — specifically The Newspaper Guild-CWA.

NY Guild Rep. Anthony Napoli makes a purchase from new Guild member Yanil Astacio at the May 30 grand opening of the combined Hudson News-Dunkin' Donuts shops at Penn Station.

 The Guild's New York local now represents workers at two, soon to be three, new Dunkin' Donuts shops that are located inside Hudson News stores at Penn Station.

For more than 10 years, the local has represented Hudson News retail workers at Penn Station and other locations in New York City. Because e-readers and other digital media are cutting into sales of magazines and newspapers, Hudson management decided to turn some of their space into Dunkin' Donuts outlets.

New York Guild leaders heard rumors about the combined stores last year, and laid the groundwork to ensure that TNG-CWA would represent the Dunkin' employees.

"We had a meeting with Hudson about it, and they said, 'Yes," they would be willing to negotiate those jobs under our existing contract," said New York Guild President Bill O'Meara, adding that he believes the new members are the only unionized Dunkin' Donuts workers in the United States.

The Guild has built a positive relationship with Hudson News, which managers acknowledged when it came to discussing the Dunkin' Donuts workers, he said. The new combination stores at Penn Station are just the first for Hudson's New York group, with the potential for dozens more, O'Meara said. Sixty people have been hired already for the first two stores.

Like Hudson's Guild-represented employees, the Dunkin' Donuts workers are fully covered by the union contract, and are accruing vacation and sick leave, have access to medical plans and to CWA's 401(k) plan. Bargaining begins this summer for a new contract for all the Hudson-Dunkin' workers. 

Read more about the Dunkin' deal on the TNG-CWA website at

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Kaplan Teachers Choose The Newspaper Guild

Teachers at Washington Post Co. educational unit vote
 for representation by Newspaper Guild of New York
NEW YORK , June 7 – New York City-based teachers of English as a second language at the Washington Post Co.'s [NYSE: WPO] educational subsidiary, Kaplan Inc., voted today for workplace representation by the Newspaper Guild of New York, becoming the company’s first employees to unionize.
In a government-supervised election, the teachers, based at the three Manhattan facilities of Kaplan International Centers, voted for the Guild by a 2-1 margin, despite an intense anti-union campaign by management that included a steady stream of leaflets and regular work-time meetings with managers and outside consultants, all urging them to vote no.
“These are professional employees, many with masters degrees, who are paid at an assortment of illogical hourly rates as low as the $7.25 federal minimum wage,” said Guild President Bill O'Meara. “They know they should be treated better and they deserve a lot of credit for maintaining their focus through Kaplan's incredibly intense campaign.”
The National Labor Relations Board, which conducted the election, is expected to certify the Guild as the bargaining agent for the group of about 95 teachers after seven days.  No other Kaplan teachers in the United States are union-represented. The results require Kaplan to bargain in good faith with the Guild for a contract covering the teachers’ employment terms.

HAPPY DAY - Kaplan ESL teachers and New York Guild officers and staff celebrate moments after a June 7 NLRB-run election showed that they chose Guild representation by a 2-1 margin. Front row from left, Nicole van Beek, Jon Blanchette, Niki St. Clair, Shana Dagenhart and Paul Hlava. Back row, Guild President Bill O’Meara, Toby Cahn, Benjamin Bush, Michaela Bucklin-Lane, Guild organizer Nastaran Mohit, Guild Secretary-Treasurer Peter Szekely and Guild Representative Anthony Napoli. 

NLRB Official counts the votes
A group of the Kaplan ESL teachers approached the Guild several months ago seeking help not only in raising their pay, but in bringing some clarity to their confusing compensation system and getting paid time off for sickness and vacations, among other things.
“This is of course a great day for teachers at Kaplan,” said Kaplan teacher Danny Valdes. “But I hope that this shows teachers that we can increase standards industry-wide by coming together to organize.”

New York-based Kaplan Inc., with $2.5 billion in revenues last year, was founded in 1938 by Stanley Kaplan and provides higher education programs, professional training courses, test preparation materials and language instruction around the world.
The Newspaper Guild of New York, Local 31003 of the Communications Workers of America, represents more than 2,800 employees at New York area-based media organizations and their respective bureaus around the nation. Its members also include non-media workers, such as those on the staff of the Writers Guild of America, East and at Hudson News Manhattan retail outlets.

 instruction around the world.

Kaplan teachers and Guild officers and staffers moments before the counting of June 7 election
BEFORE THE COUNT - Anxiety and optimism were both in abundant supply before the votes were counted at Kaplan’s Empire State Building facilities on June 7. From left, Michaela Bucklin-Lane, Paul Hlava, Guild organizer Nastaran Mohit, Niki St. Clair, Michelle Roberts, Steven Beck, Guild Secretary-Treasurer Peter Szekely, Nicole van Beek (partly obscured), Viveca Gardner (partly obscured) and Guild mobilizer Bob Daraio.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tribune set to emerge from bankruptcy

By Emily Steel, David Gelles and Nicole Bullock in New York
Financial Times

Shortly after Sam Zell led the $8.2bn leveraged buyout of the Tribune Company in 2007, he was caught on camera spewing profanities at a journalist at the Orlando Sentinel, one of the newspapers he acquired in the deal.

It was an inauspicious start for what Mr Zell himself was to call the “deal from hell”. 

Mr Zell, the cowboy-boot-wearing real estate tycoon, invested $315m of his own money to take over one of the most storied US media companies.

Tribune is home to newspapers including the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, as well as television networks. His audacious bet came at the peak of a wave of leveraged buyouts in the last decade.

But the deal soon fell apart. It layered debt on the company on the eve of the collapse of the US economy and the deterioration of the newspaper industry. 

Tribune filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2008. It spent more than three years in bankruptcy court, with so many false starts over an exit that the company itself stopped predicting when it might emerge.

Tribune is expected to break free from bankruptcy later this year. Following hearings starting on Thursday, a judge is expected to approve Tribune’s fourth proposed reorganization plan, setting the stage for Tribune to take the exit from bankruptcy by the end of the year.

Tribune will emerge from bankruptcy protection as a slimmed-down business in a different media landscape. 

While lawyers have been paid more than $230m on the deal, Tribune has cut about a quarter of its staff.

The company also pared down its properties, selling off a 95 per cent stake in the Chicago Cubs baseball team and related assets in 2009 for $845m.

Meanwhile, the market has become less hospitable for diversified companies. Media ownership rules in the US make it difficult for conglomerates to exploit synergies between print and broadcast assets in the same local market.

The fundamentals of some of Tribune’s businesses continue to deteriorate. Newspaper advertising revenues in the US have halved since Mr Zell bought the company in 2007.

Tribune’s most recent financial projections anticipate declining revenues at the publishing division through 2014, though the division is expected to remain profitable.

“Tribune is in a cycle of decline,” said James O’Shea, a former editor at the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times who wrote a book about Tribune called The Deal from Hell: How Moguls and Wall Street Plundered Great American Newspapers.

To many industry observers, Tribune is a case study of the erosion of US newspapers.

After boom times in the 1990s, more than a dozen big newspaper companies in the US have filed for bankruptcy protection, said Ken Doctor, a newspaper analyst.

“It’s the decline of what once were the powerhouses of journalism,” he said.

Tribune’s broadcast assets face a somewhat brighter future, with the local television business proving resilient. Financial projections show the broadcasting division generating increasingly more operating cash flow than the publishing division up to 2014, despite having roughly half the revenues this year.

The divergent futures for the TV and print businesses lead many in the media industry to believe that Tribune will sell assets soon after it comes out of bankruptcy.

Though some media companies, including News Corp, hold broadcast and newspaper assets, others are breaking apart.

The most likely scenario, say people familiar with the company, is that Tribune will sell its newspapers to a host of local ownership groups. These people say that a sale of its broadcast assets is also possible, but less likely.

Fueling speculation are court filings that show Tribune reorganizing its business in a way that would make it easier to sell off its newspapers separately.

Billionaire Eli Broad has signaled interest in buying the Los Angeles Times. A group of Chicago investors who recently bought another local newspaper, the Chicago Sun-Times, had been reported to be interested in the Tribune.

But last month Michael Ferro, chairman of the Sun-Times, said his group was not interested.
Mr Broad believes that the Los Angeles Times should be locally owned, a spokeswoman said. “If there was a group of wealthy families or foundations that would be interested in purchasing the Los Angeles Times, he would be interested in joining them,” she added.
Sam Zell

Before any decisions are made about what Tribune will or won’t sell, the company is likely to see an overhaul of its management. A new board will be appointed as part of the exit from bankruptcy and could replace Tribune’s management team.

The fate of Tribune is a cautionary tale for media companies to invest in the future during the good years, said Mr O’Shea.

Tribune “just tried to recreate the past,” he said.

Ed Atorino, media analyst at Benchmark, a research firm, said the timing of the deal was especially bad.

Mr Zell “borrowed money to buy the companies. The bottom fell out of the economy. The bottom fell out of newspapers”, he said.


More On this story:

Wisconsin recall: we cant allow the 1 percent to set our public and economic

Statement by the Communications Workers of America on last night's results in the Wisconsin recall: 

We've heard a lot of back and forth about what the Wisconsin vote means.

It's clear to us at the Communications Workers of America that it means that the 1 percent can reach into just about every aspect of our political lives. And that must be stopped. Ordinary people will never have economic and social justice if we continue down this road of allowing big money in politics and allowing the 1 percent to set our public policy and national agenda.

At the core of this fight is collective bargaining rights. Corporate and right wing interests oppose public and private sector bargaining rights, because organized workers have an independent voice in our democracy.

Without bargaining rights, it's no surprise that workers' real wages have been stagnant for 40 years, or that all the productivity gains workers have produced over the past 30 years have ended up in corporate profits or management payouts.

Without bargaining rights, we won't have an economic recovery. There will be no effective consumer demand. That's the model that works in established democracies like Germany and growing ones like Brazil.  In the U.S., however, we've allowed the 1 percent to work to destroy this critical economic and public policy standard.

In Wisconsin, we saw right wing billionaires dump $40 million into paid media and a ground campaign. We saw that just two donors to the Walker campaign provided him with $3 million, more than Tom Barrett's entire campaign fund.

CWA members and allies did amazing work in Wisconsin and tremendous work on the ground. There were tens of thousands of volunteers knocking on 800,000 doors and making 1.5 million phone calls. There were worksite contacts and get-out-the-vote efforts that lasted long into election night. 

But in today's world, that doesn't stack up against the millions of dollars the other side spent to stop workers from having bargaining rights.

We need a renewed progressive movement — in workplaces, in the streets and at the ballot box — to start to reverse results like those of last night. That will happen.

For release June 6, 2012

Contact: Candice Johnson or Chuck Porcari, CWA Communications, 202-434-1168

Dems Win One Wisconsin Senate Recall, Just Enough Take Back Control

State Senator John Lehman
With John Lehman's recall election victory over Republican Van Wanggaard, the Wisconsin Democrats have taken back control of the State Senate, which will help slow the anti-labor legislative agenda the Walker administration continues to push forward.

Lehman won 51 to 49 percent, with a margin of just 221 votes out of 72,000 cast. 

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the rest of his Republican team survived the recall election with the help of the Koch brothers and their billionaire mega-millions. 

The Republicans outspent the Democrats 20 to 1 in this bitterly fought recall campaign. Two-and-a-half million people voted, which was 300,000 less state officials had projected.

Senate GOP leader Scott Fitzgerald and Chippewa Falls Republican Terry Moulton each won their contests with 57 and 58 percent of the vote. Assembly Republican Jerry Petrowski took 61 percent, defeating Assembly Democrat Donna Seidel for the Senate seat vacated when recall target Pam Galloway resigned in March.

Republican Rebecca Kleefisch stays on as Lieutenant Governor, after defeating Mahlon Mitchell 53 to 47 percent.

Democratic Lt. Governor candidate Mahlon Mitchell, the president of Wisconsin’s Professional Firefighters Association, made it clear there’s plenty of fight left in the Democratic Party and Wisconsin's Labor Movement, despite Tuesday’s devastating loss. 

"This is a fight that we have to keep up and we cannot stop. I can tell you right now that I’m not done with this fight. And I know the man behind me – Mayor Barrett – is not done with this fight. I will continue to fight and I will continue to speak out against the injustices of this state. And we gotta keep going. We cannot stop. He is trying to divide and conquer us. We cannot let that happen right? Right? Are you ready to fight?”

More than a thousand people gathered at the State Capitol last night as the returns were coming in. Barrett, the Milwaukee mayor, told supporters to keep fighting for what they believe in. 

State Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate said his side was badly out-spent, but the recall battle was still worth fighting. And Tate said it would be a mistake to call Wisconsin a “red state” now.

AFL-CIO's President, Richard Trumka, released the following statement on Tuesday night:

"Tonight working families across the country recognize the courageous journey that nurses, teachers, firefighters, snowplow drivers and other Wisconsinites led for more than a year."

"Though a seemingly impossible task, they refused to allow their voices be taken away by an overreaching and partisan governor. Whether it was standing in the snow, sleeping in the Capitol, knocking on doors or simply casting a vote, we admire the heart and soul everyone poured into this effort. Adding to this gargantuan challenge of recalling only the third governor in American history was the flood of secret corporate cash distorting our democracy – a dangerous example of a post-Citizens United America."

"We wanted a different outcome, but Wisconsin forced the governor to answer for his efforts to divide the state and punish hard-working people. Their resolve has inspired a nation to follow their lead and stand up for the values of hard work, unity, and decency that we believe in. We hope Scott Walker heard Wisconsin: Nobody wants divisive policies. It’s time to work together to forge a new path forward. The challenge to solve a generation of economic policies and create an economy that celebrates hard work over a partisan agenda gained momentum today."

Labor leaders and Democratic Party leaders need to regroup and assess how to change our political strategy and tactics going forward. Clearly, being outspent 20 to 1 doesn't work. Having our Democrat President of the United States not show up, nor speak up, didn't help either. Solidarity is key, it is also as uncommon as common sense these days.

We can't afford to come up short like this in November, so back to work everyone, we have some big time changes to make and challenges to overcome.

Solidarity with Wisconsin

A year and a half ago, Gov. Scott Walker and his friends in the Senate forced through an extremist anti-worker agenda that divided the state.
Last night, Wisconsin took back its Senate. While Gov. Walker remains in office after being only the third governor in American history subjected to the humiliation of a recall, his divisive agenda has been stopped cold.

Though Walker was shielded with a flood of secret corporate cash, Wisconsin made its voice heard.
While we came closer to recalling Walker than many expected, we ended up coming just short.

The work we did together was about much more than just this one election.

We laid the groundwork for a powerful movement to push back against Walker-style anti-working family policies everywhere. The energy and momentum in Wisconsin have inspired working people from all walks of life to stand together in solidarity in unprecedented ways.

We cannot stop now.
Click here to sign our solidarity pledge to commit to building on the momentum working people created in Wisconsin and beyond to protect good jobs, working families and workplace rights.

Wisconsin is a small piece of a broader global movement of people pushing back on the corporate-driven policies that have favored the super-rich at the expense of good jobs, education and the health of our communities.

And we are winning. We’ve seen it in Tunisia, Yemen and other countries where the Arab Spring has taken hold; in Greece and France, where voters rejected the failed, Draconian policies of austerity; and here in the United States, where members of the Occupy movement continue to shine a much-needed light on Wall Street greed and ballooning economic inequality.

Working people are making history every day through their courage and resolve to work together for a better world. For you, it may have begun with Wisconsin, but it should not stop there.

Click here to sign our pledge of solidarity to say you will continue to stand with other working people to protect good jobs, working families and workplace rights.

Thank you for everything you have done and will continue to do for working families.

In Solidarity,

Richard Trumka
President, AFL-CIO