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With Just Cause:

Unionization of the American Journalist




Today's journalists no longer think they need to be protected against exploitation, believing that the shackles of exploitation exist only in history books. These journalists argue that while the blue collar workers may need unions, the professionals don't since they have higher education levels, more affluence, better working conditions, and the belief that they can deal more effectively with management on a one-to-one situation than as a group. In its quest to be given the status and respect a society gives what it class professionals, journalists believe that unions are a distinct disadvantage.

Once, Heywood Broun and Jonathan Eddy, founders of the American Newspaper Guild, were not ashamed to stand side-by-side with John L. Lewis and Sidney Hillman. Once, journalists worried about the exploited and the oppressed; now they merely claim to worry about them, while pretending to be among the privileged few who have access to the halls of business and political power. Nevertheless, physician, lawyer, or journalist become folded within corporate America, and as chains and groups, with their headquartered MBAs and JDs hundreds of miles away, begin buying out hospitals and law firms and newspapers, the need for unions becomes even stronger.

The Writers Guild of America, American Feration of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET), Graphic Communications International Union, Communications Workers of America, and several other unions in the media have essentially union shop guarantees or an industry-wide basis. Most broadcast network journalists, with the exception of those of Fox News, are represented by AFTRA, Writers Guild of America, or NABET; ABC, CBS, and NBC are all closed-shop operations, requiring their journalists to be members of the union or to pay fair share dues to that union. You don't write a script or perform on air for network TV or most film companies without union membership; you don't aim cameras or build sets without a union card. But, less than ten percent of all reporters, both print and broadcast, are members of unions. And every year, newspapers and magazines update the public on the decline of America's union movement. And every year, there is still worker oppression, and it makes no difference if it's in a small coal community or in tinted glass walls of Manhattan. It's still oppression.


With Just Cause is not meant to proselytize or reinforce, but to inform. It may help those who know little about media unions or who are openly hostile to see the critical issues; it might help those who are members learn about their heritage. Through an understanding of the history, philosophy, and critical social issues within the media unions, journalists, hopefully, will make the decisions of membership based upon knowledge rather than myth.

Critical Acclaim

"Mention the word 'union' to a journalist and the responses you will get are startling. Until now there has been such disinformation and lack of information that many journalists, usually quite diligent people, are wont to throw their hands up in frustration (or extend them for potential fisticuffs). Walter M. Brasch may have solved this dilemma. With Just Cause has assembled a remarkable collection of experts to inform and comment upon the history and impact of the unionization of journalism in this country."- Ed Asner


"This volume [is] a kind of bible on the subject."-- Editor & Publisher


"...comprehensive, compelling, well-reasoned, -written and -packaged, and a useful reference for recent journalism school graduates or seasoned personnel directors at newspapers." -- The Illinois Publisher


"It offers useful case studies of several labor disputes from the past three decades, and concludes with several articles on current issues facing media unions and media workers." -- Libertarian Labor Review


"It consists of 44 items: documents, reprints, and some original articles, among which several of the best were written by Brasch himself.-- The Guild Reporter


"In 44 chapters, Brasch and several of the nation's leading journalists and labor leaders explore everything from the need for the creation of media unions...to how the media cover labor."-- Labor Herald


"...The book provides a great deal of material that will be invaluable to organizers today." -- In These Times


"...A welcome addition to the literature....a lively and informative book one can read with profit while awaiting a comprehensive, up-to-date history of this important and growing sector of the union movement."-- Industrial and Labor Relations Review


"With Just Cause not only is about journalism, it is journalism, with the crucial element of objectivity present throughout."-- The LABOR Paper


"Walter Brasch has carefully compiled a lively, invigorating, and instructive collection of articles depicting formative events and contemporary social issues in the unionization of American journalism. The collection reveals the schizoid relationship journalists have always had with the labor movement, the divisions that exist today among journalists and their unions, the healing and bitterness found in confrontations, and the landmark legal cases. Brasch's selections are creative; his judgment as an editor is excellent. Journalists, aspiring journalists, labor educators, and labor practitioners should find the book instructive and compelling." --Louise D. Walsh, George Meany Center for Labor Studies


"A refreshing debate for journalists who have been parroting the death of the labor movement for so long they never realized they were chirping for their own funeral."

--Juan Gonzales, New York Daily News


"When I was a newspaper reporter, I found that ignorance about unions is rampant in the journalistic profession. With Just Cause is needed to combat that ignorance."

-- David Lindorff, Alfred University


"Don't miss this one if you want to know why journalists needed unions in the past, need them today, and will need them as long as there's news to report."

--David DeKok, Harrisburg Patriot-News


"With Just Cause should be mandatory reading for all journalism students, and for the thousands of unrepresented professional journalists. With Just Cause will give any rational journalist a healthy dose of reality."-- Lou Mleczko, Detroit News


"I don't believe that I have ever seen or heard of any publication like this. Many of us have had the opportunity to be involved in some of the precedent setting issues of the past years but With Just Cause will enable those, like myself, who, sadly to say may not be as well voiced in our history as we are in [other areas to better understand the need for unions.]"--Ann Wilhelmy, Minneapolis Star Tribune


"With Just Cause is a brilliantly-written and expertly-edited anthology that surveys the entire union movement in American media. Brasch and his authors present a work that reflects the history, legal issues, and nature of media unions today, both the good and the bad. They do so admirably. With Just Cause is broad, challenging, and thought-provoking, written with passion and the knowledge that the authors and the editor believe in their subject, and aren't afraid to break from the confines of some academic writing that dictates what sometimes are wobbly and insipid looks at important issues. Brasch's skills as both a writer and editor are apparent, making this an academic book not only well worth reading, but understandable to the masses as well. Without question, this book should be on the book shelves of everyone in journalism, who plans to enter journalism, or who works with journalists on a regular basis."--Dena Winokur, Pace University


"With Just Cause is not only a primer on why unions belong in the nation's news rooms, it's also a necessary antidote to the "romantic blah handed out to all beginners in the newspaper game,"to quote one old-timer whose wisdom graces this collection."- Elizabeth Sullivan, Cleveland Plain-Dealer and president, Cleveland Newspaper Guild, Local No. 1


". . . Comprehensive, compelling, well-reasoned, -written and -packaged, and a useful reference for recent journalism school graduates or seasoned personnel directors at newspapers."--Bill Knight, Illinois Publisher

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