A letter from former guild member and Blade religion editor TK Barger

I’m a former religion editor of The Blade, now senior minister at First Unitarian Church of Toledo. This is the beginning of my Sept. 5, 2021, sermon, “Labor,” delivered Labor Day weekend. I see I got the years shorter than reality — 19 years now without a raise?

“Not that we’re always consistent — when I was preparing for ministerial fellowship, I was set back for a time because the UU bureaucracy wouldn’t accept an alternative to an employer evaluation. I was a union member at the Blade, and we didn’t have evaluations as part of the contract. I wasn’t going to ask management to do something that could potentially be a contract item, but the timing worked in your calling me as the minister, so we ended up with the traditional, and finally successful, path to ministerial fellowship rather than community ministry.

“The picture on the cover of the order of service, by the way, is of a printing press when the Blade was printed in Toledo. That picture actually has one of my religion sections on the press.

I think about my former colleagues at the Toledo Blade, who are working with an expired contract — again — and having big challenges in negotiations for the next contract — again — and who have gone more than 15 years now without a raise and with cutbacks. Blade workers have a hard time making ends meet, and many are leaving journalism so they can support their families, if not just themselves. 

“We have had Blade workers in our congregation, in union and management, and some of the managers rose from being union members so they know something about labor relations, too. I want you to know that I continue to support Blade union workers, and I encourage you to support them, too.”

TK Barger