1890 Establishment of the Finnish Association of Journalists. The then Senate affirmed the regulations of the Association, but the Tsar overturned the decision. The foundation of the union was disallowed for the next 30 years.
1900s During the first decade of the new century, journalists established political journalists associations. The Finnish Journalists Union, the Young Finns Journalists Association, the Finlands Svenska Publicistförbund, and the Finnish Social Democratic Journalists Union were established during this period.
1921 The Finnish Union of Journalists (SSL) was founded on 28 March,with11 member associations. The oldest of these was the Eastern Finnish Journalists’ Association, founded in Vyborg in 1913. In December 1920 the Helsinki Journalists’ Association was formed, followed within a few months by the Turku, Tampere, Satakunta, Hämeenlinna, Vaasa, Northern Finland, Joensuu, Savolinna, and Southern Finland associations. The initiative for a common union was made by the Helsinki Journalists’ Association.
1922 The press card was introduced.
The young union lobbied the authorities hard for grants for journalists’ foreign travel to be paid by the state. In 1924, the State Railways granted journalists ticket reductions. Until the 1970s, the reduced-rate tickets were obtained from editorial offices and were granted for working trips. In 1937 journalists’ pensions came from the state budget.
1924 Journalist magazine started publication (its title in Finnish and Swedish: Sanomalehtimies-Journalisten). Union officials and employees took care of the chief editorial work of the magazine in addition to their regular work until 1978, when Leena Paukku became its full-time permanent chief editor. Subsequent editors of the magazine were Timo Vuortama 1987-2006, Johanna Korhonen 2006-2008, Juha Rekola 2008 and Markku Lappalainen 2009 -.
The union held its first course for journalists, for which 141 journalists registered – half the union’s membership. The next year, journalism training was started at the Institute of Social Sciences on the initiative of the union.
1926 The union was involved in the establishment of the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE). The general secretary of the union acted as the chair of YLE’s board of governors, in 2006 the union continued to have two YLE shares, one of which it has donated to the Union of Radio and Television Journalists.
The Union was one of the founders of the International Federation of Journalists (FIJ).
1927 The Union for Intellectual Work, whose name was later changed to the Clerical Employees’ and Civil Servants’ Organizations, joined the union.
1945 The use of the standard agreement, also called the standard contract, was concluded with the publishers’ union. The plan for such contracts had got underway already in 1926, but the employers opposed it fiercely fro almost 20 years. The standard contract is more a means of guidance rather than strictly binding.
1946 The International organization of Journalists (IOJ) founded. The old FIJ petered out amidst the upheavals of World War II.
1947 Foundation of the Nordic Journalists Union.
1949 Finnish Journalists Union leaves the IOJ.
1952 Western journalists’ unions establish a new international union, the International Federation of Journalists. The Finnish Journalists’ Union does not immediately join.
Vote taken among union members on affiliation with the central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions. The proposal is rejected.
1955 Seniority system incorporated into the journalist’s contract, which is still non-binding.
1956 Finnish Journalists’ Union joins the IFJ.
1960 The union established an unemployment fund. The fund grew, as in most cases in its early years it did not have to pay members unemployment benefit. The fund expanded when magazine and periodical journalists join the union in 1968, and radio and TV journalists join in 1970.
1963 The union had over a thousand members. It employed three officials: a secretary, Heikki V. Vuorinen, treasurer, Erkki Merinen and office manager, Aino Ermas.
1967 The Union concluded its first collective bargaining agreement. The agreement was speeded up by a strike ultimatum. Similar ultimatums were made in 1958 and 1962, but in each case they were settled.
A major overhaul of the Union rules was adopted and the waiting period for membership was revoked.
1968 The Union acquired its present organizational character. The first congress of the union was held in Aulanko.
Photojournalists join the Union en masse.
Finland adopts the five-day working week.
The Union established the Council for Mass Media, the job of which is to interpret good journalistic practice.
The tasks of Jyrki A. Juuti, elected chairperson in 1963, become a full-time position. He was succeeded as chairperson by Antero Laine 1974-1992, Pekka Laine 1992-2006 and Arto Nieminen 2006-.
1971 The Union of Magazine Journalists joins the union. Membership exceeded 2,600.
Members voted on whether to leave the Clerical Employees’ and Civil Servants’ Organizations. The decision to remain in the central organization is passed narrowly.
1972 The first strike conducted by the union lasts 10 days and 10 hours. It achieves basic improvements in wages. The agreement has a so-called magazine/periodical protocol amended to it, which within a few years is assimilated with other agreements.
The number of union staff members increases to nine: Jyrki A. Juuti, Chairperson, Seppo Sadeoja, Secretary, Eila Hyppönen, Legal Adviser, Erkki Merinen, Treasurer, Eila Salo, Office Manager, and four clerical staff.[mw1]
1973 Radio and TV Journalists Union (RTTL) held consultations on joining the Union. The move was defeated by an RTTL vote. There is also some bias against the idea from among newspaper journalists.
1974 TVK expelled the union because it refuses to support the general strike.
1976 The union begins to participate as an observer in the activities of the IOJ. In 1979 it concluded an agreement of cooperation and in 1981 agreed on associate membership. The union withdrew from the IOJ in 1991. Its membership of the IFJ remained throughout this period.
1980 RTTL joined the union, bringing with it three new collective bargaining agreements: membership is now more than 5,800. The Union has a permanent staff of 15.
A second strike by journalists lasted for three weeks. The strike results in an agreement to shorten the working week, improve the seniority system and leave benefits and allow editorial departments to hold meetings during working hours.
1983 The Åland Journalists Association (Ålands Journalistförening, est. 1981) joins the union when the union adopted an amendment to its rules to allow for this. Before, journalists from Åland belonged to the Union via the Turku Journalists Association and the RTTL.
1988 The union’s third strike concerning collective bargaining resulted in the suspension of YLE transmissions for three weeks. The lag in journalists’ wages is reduced with a wage increase that is treble the level the employers proposed. Journalists began to be paid more for technical work separately. Freelancers also strike and at the same time, a joint agreement is negotiated. Local radio operations enable the use of a profound innovation, when YLE journalists produce Strike Radio broadcasts on Helsinki’s local radio.
1989 The union delegation does not accept the negotiated outcome on the collective bargaining agreement but instead puts it to a vote by Union members. Over two thirds of journalists vote in favour of the agreement.
YLE producers’ assistants become Union members and come within the ambit of the YLE collective bargaining agreement. Producers’ assistants at MTV (commercial TV) have already been Union members since 1982.
1992 The union congress alters the name of the Union, replacing the older Finnish name for journalists ‘sanomalehtimies’ with the more ubiquitous and gender neutral ‘Journalisti’. The name of the union in English became the Union of Journalists in Finland. The Union’s offices employ 24 staff members, three of whom work on Journalist magazine, and two of whom deal with the unemployment fund.
The level of joblessness among journalists rises from almost full employment to nearly 7% unemployment. The situation worsens over the next two years, reaching 8%.
1995 The union gained a fifth collective bargaining agreement, when after 10 years of efforts an agreement was reached for local radio journalists. The level of organization among the employers is modest and the agreement does not seek to be broadly binding.
The union congress amends the criteria for membership so that editors in publishing houses can belong to the union. Student membership is also introduced. Nearly all programme technicians at YLE and MTV become RTTL members. Publishing editors form a grouping within the sphere of the Union of Magazine Journalists.
Union membership stands at over 9,000 and for the first time there is a balance of gender representation in the Union. The proportion of women in the union continually increases.
1997 The new membership groups increased the Union’s membership by another thousand and by the end of the year it stood at nearly 11,000. At the turn of the millennium, the increase started to slow down, but it remained constant: in 2000 just over 12,000, in 2002 over 13,000 and in 2005 over 14,000.
2003 A prolonged dispute over the contractual rights of publishing editors is settled when the union secures a collective bargaining agreement for them. Alternatively, the collective bargaining agreement concerning television production companies is down to organizational collaboration, when the Union becomes the cosignatory of the film and television production agreement of the Theatre and Media Employees in Finland.
2005 The union office employs 25 members of staff, six of whom are involved in producing Journalisti magazine. There were in addition three people working for the unemployment fund. The Association of Freelance Journalists in Finland (AFJ) is set up and becomes the Union’s 19th member association. AFJ members are mostly freelance journalists working for the press.
2006 The Union congress decides on future projects, in connection with which the Union’s courses of action and organizational structure are thoroughly examined. The congress separately undertakes to find out how a representative body could replace the union general meeting. The operational organization of the Union, constructed in 1921 and with its regulations confirmed in 1968, was thus put under full scrutiny for the first time.
2008 A supplementary congress of the union confirmed the core tasks of the union and decided to change the administration of the union, so that union meetings would be done away with and their tasks transferred to a council. The first meeting of the council under the new administrative model convened in December 2010.
2014 Union membership began to fall for the first time. The Council decided in new membership parameters. Membership became open to all whose work contains essential elements of journalism and whose work is professional in nature.