Lunzer expected to win Newspaper Guild presidency

by Joe Strupp, Editor and Publisher

Challenger Bernie Lunzer will win The Newspaper Guild presidential election, according to voting data obtained by E&P that indicates he has a lead of more than 900 votes with only some 600 potential ballots left to be counted.

Sources within the guild revealed that out of 6,420 votes tabulated so far, Lunzer, the longtime secretary-treasurer, has 3,648, while incumbent Linda Foley has just 2,722.

"We are pleased with the results we have seen this far," said Tim Schick, campaign manager for Lunzer and administrator of the Providence (R.I) Newspaper Guild. "That is about as far as I want to go."

Schick declined to comment on the specific data, but several sources said that the votes tabulated so far gave Lunzer an insurmountable lead.

Although votes from the York Newspaper Guild in York, Pa., are still yet to be counted, along with some 600 potential votes from a handful of Canadian units, the vote totals from those locations would not give Foley, the 13-year incumbent, enough to win.

Voting among most of the 28,000 eligible members of the guild occurred between April 24 and April 29. But final returns have been delayed somewhat due to the York unit, with 62 eligible members, failing to administer its voting in time.

Tracy Simmons, chair of the Sector Election and Referendum Committee, which oversees the election, said that unit voted later and its balloting will occur until May 15, when the election is certified. She said her committee has overseen that voting.

Guild officials have said the lower voter turnout is not surprising. "I think for the vast majority of the rank and file, it is an election once-removed," Simmons, who is also administrative officer of the Denver Newspaper Guild, said earlier this week. "Even in locals with paid staff, if you get into your membership at large, the vast majority have never met either candidate and may not even know there is an election."

The election has pitted incumbent Foley against former running made Lunzer for her first challenge since 1995. The vote also comes at a time when the industry is in the throes of cutbacks, buyouts and layoffs, and an unclear future.

Guild members speculate that a Lunzer victory would likely be the result of both tough times for the guild, which has seen membership dwindle and faced some of its toughest contract fights in recent years, and an early organized opposition by Lunzer, who launched his campaign in early 2007.

Neither Lunzer nor Foley were reachable for comment Tuesday.

In the three previous elections since 1995, Foley and Lunzer were the only nominees at the annual sector conference, for president and secretary-treasurer, so a member vote was not even taken.

The guild presidency, which includes a three-year term, pays about $140,000 annually, while secretary-treasurer has a salary of about $119,000, according to Lunzer.

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