Northwest Labor Press captures first-place award

PITTSBURGH, PA -- Using news and information as an organizing tool -- and training organizers and unionists to be better communicators -- were main themes of the International Labor Communications Association (ILCA) convention here.

The conclave of union journalists, which preceded the national AFL-CIO convention in late September, attacked both national and local communications problems unions face. Those problems include business dominance of the mass media, the past reluctance of union leaders to be aggressive and active speakers for their members in the media, and how to treat what might be viewed as negative stories -- such as election losses.

Union polls show "80 percent of our members get political information from their unions, 79 of that 80 percent got that information from a union paper or magazine, and two-thirds of our members want their unions involved in national political issues," said Carolyn Jacobson, communications director of the Bakery, Confectionery and Tobacco Workers. "They want unions to focus on them and their needs."

But one key need is organizing and most of the ILCA seminars focused on that -- including using local, not national, organizers to speak for their unions, since local people can affect their friends and neighbors.

"The more people we organize, the more clout we're going to have," said Danny Longwell, a district director of the Steelworkers who is also president of the Steelworkers Press Association.

"When we stay away from the media, we wind up on defense," in organizing or any other effort, he added.

The ILCA gave 69 first-place awards to various publications at an evening banquet -- including a first-place general excellence award to the Northwest Labor Press for newspapers publishing more than 12 issues per year.

"Strong features. Good writing and photos. Covers a wide swath well," were the judges' comments in awarding the plaque to the Northwest Labor Press.


Nov. 7, 1997 issue

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