AFL-CIO Milwaukee Labor Press publishes final issue
Compiled by Courier Staff
It’s been a little more than a month since Milwaukee radio station WMCS the “Talk of the Town” was silenced, now another media voice has joined the ranks. The AFL-CIO Milwaukee Labor Press published its final issue this week. The paper had published for 73 years serving as “the voice of Milwaukee labor”.
Shelia Cochran, COO of the Milwaukee Labor Council, which publishes the paper stated in the last issue, “When I became the head of the council, I became the publisher of the Labor Press and was very proud of what was and continues to this day be a nationally recognized and award winning publication-the most recent award being 2012 Saul Miller-Best Collective Bargaining Story of any international, national and other labor organization.”
Cochran was quite emotional when she addressed delegates at the March meeting and had to tell them the decision that the executive board made to stop publishing the newspaper.
Cochran also stated to readers that, “As we put this paper to bed, our readers should understand that this isn’t the death of the voice of organized labor. We will continue to move forward and do our work. But it is the last issue of this very proud and independent voice in print form.”
Over the weekend, 44,000 union-member subscribers throughout Milwaukee received their last issue of the paper.
Many factors appear to have led to this move by the Labor Press. Cochran reportedly stated that rising costs, a reduction in advertising and a drop in union membership, particularly from public-sector unions after the passage in 2011 of the state’s Act 10 all have played a major role in the decision to stop publishing.
With the loss of union membership, there’s no longer the support needed to subsidize the paper. Unions affiliated with the labor council paid for their members to get the paper. Since Act 10 legislation limited collective bargaining by public-sector unions, there’s been a loss of about 10,000 union members, she said.
Cochran reflected on her own history with the publication even before she became its publisher, “When I was a little girl growing up in a union household, I was always told to look to the Milwaukee Labor Press when it came to how to vote and what was good for working people,” she wrote.
The paper at one time was a weekly publication and not only carried union news but featured such things as recipes, bowling scores and news surrounding social gatherings. At one time in it had a weekly home delivery of 150,000 per week. The publication changed to a monthly in the 1970’s.
So again, Milwaukee must bid farewell to another media voice that has been silenced due to finances. The public must be aware and again understand that media costs, it is not a right, it is operated in the world of business, and businesses costs to operate. For media that income is advertising dollars, and where and how they are directed.
Consumers must be aware that if they want to maintain power and a voice in society, they must support those companies that advertise on the radio stations, newspapers and any other media that support them.