Turkish Sentencing of Wall Street Journal Reporter Horrifies News Guild

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Turkey’s sentencing of Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak horrifies The News Guild-CWA, which sees it as part of the government’s campaign to shut down criticism, Guild President Bernie Lunzer says.

On October 10, A Turkish court sentenced Albayrak to 25 months in prison on charges that she engaged in “terrorist propaganda in support of a banned Kurdish separatist organization,” the Journal reported.

The “propaganda” was an article two years ago about the Kurdish insurgency in eastern Turkey and its local impact.

Albayrak joins a growing horde of tens of thousands of journalists, civil servants, teachers, academics, soldiers and civilians who have lost their jobs, been imprisoned or both since a failed coup last year against the government of Recip Tayyet Erdogan.

Erdogan, leader of the nation’s dominant Islamic-based party, claims an exiled Muslim religious leader – and a former ally -- now living in Pennsylvania, was behind the coup.

But he’s also used the coup attempt as an excuse to arrest Kurds and their allies, along with others who have dared to speak out against his dictatorial tendencies. One leading Turkish independent paper, Hurriyet, has lost dozens of staffers.

Now, Albayrak, who reports on Turkey as part of the Journal’s foreign service, is among the jailed. The News Guild, through its Independent Association of Publishers Employees local, represents the domestic staff at the Journal, though not its foreign staff, Lunzer says.

Her jailing still upsets him, and other journalistic organizations, too.

“We are horrified by the action taken against a WSJ journalist. Turkey is actively muzzling reporters and creating great fear in the journalism community. We seek her immediate release,” Lunzer e-mailed Press Associates Union News Service.

The Journal said Albayrak will appeal her sentencing. Albayrak was sentenced without being present in court. She’s currently in New York City. 

“This was an unfounded criminal charge and wildly inappropriate conviction that wrongly singled out a balanced Wall Street Journal report,” said Gerard Baker, the paper’s top editor. “The sole purpose of the article was to provide objective and independent reporting on events in Turkey, and it succeeded.”                                           

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Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work