UntitledIn Maine in the mid-90s, The Newspaper Guild-CWA members at the Portland paper had been working for many months- perhaps over a year- without a contract. Negotiations with the then-owners were going nowhere. The Guild decided to take action to show that workers were united and determined to get a better contract.
It was Christmastime. The company had a longstanding tradition of an employee Christmas party, held in the employee cafeteria on the fifth floor of the Press Herald building.
On the day of the party, the publisher stood outside the lunchroom greeting employees. Editors and other managers wore white chef’s hats and served out the food- potatoes, chicken, fish filets, cake. A pianist hired by the company played Christmas carols in one corner.
The room was packed when about two dozen Guild employees walked in and handed out songsheets with the words to “I’m Dreaming of a Fair Contract.” I played guitar. We invited the pianist to join us.
Needless to say, the song was quite a surprise- and it caused quite a reaction. I heard that the top brass were furious. Although many years have passed, people at the paper still remember that incident.
– Shoshana Hoose
“I’m dreaming of a fair contract,
Just like the ones we used to see,
Where our employment brought more enjoyment,
And we could afford to buy a tree.
I’m dreaming of a fair contract,
With every article I write (and every photograph I snap and every ad that I can sell),
Make your days be merry and share,
And may our new contract be fair!”
(The words in parentheses are inserted after singing through the whole song once.)
– lyrics by Phil Hoose, Shoshana Hoose and Joanne Lannin