Vol XI, No. 3TNG/CWA Local 31041January 11, 2000

It's Time to Send the Boss a Message

We need you to write a letter to your real boss about what is going on here. By that, we mean Robert W. Decherd, the chief executive officer of Belo. For these letters to have an impact, they need to be your own thoughts expressed in your own words. And there needs to be a lot of them.

When you're done, give your letters to a member of the executive board, or bring time to Wednesday's membership meeting. That way the union can address them and synchronize their mailing so that we can maximize their effect. A single letter may sound like a foolish and futile gesture, but several hundred are not.

Remember, our business is based on the idea that if you tell people the truth, they can change the world. Tell him the truth. It is on your side.

Talking Points for Letters to Management

When writing, keep these points in mind:

DON'T BE BELLIGERENT. We are trying to persuade this guy that we have a legitimate gripe here. Insults and obscenities won't make that case. They will hurt it.

TALK ABOUT YOURSELF. Establish your credibility, so you're not some faceless whiner. Tell how long you have worked here, some of the things you have done. The folks on the fourth floor may not like to admit it, but it is our work, selling ads, putting them together, taking pictures and writing stories that have made this company so successful. You've been a part of that, tell him about it.

TELL HOW YOUR LIFE HAS BEEN HURT. This will require you to reveal a certain degree of your personal life. Have you lost access to a doctor or treatment because the company forced you into another health plan? Has the increased cost of care created a financial hardship? How about finding out you weren't insured when you tried to get a prescription filled last week? Belo prides itself on being a family company; it offers a special adoption benefit. If you tried to arrange a job-share or part-time position to have more time with your family, what did the Journal tell you?

TALK ABOUT HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED. They have always been flinty old Yankees here, no argument, but in the past few months it has become vindictive. Talk about things like the daily aggravation of parking, about how Sutton wrote that November memorandum promising an imminent solution. The solution? Telling us to get lost. Talk about their refusal to negotiate on the benefits, and note any disarray you may have noticed in your own department lately. For instance, if you work in a bureau or answer the phones downtown, odds are you've been taking a few angry subscriber phone calls for circulation over the past few months. Tell him about it.

KEEP IT PROFESSIONAL -- DON'T GET PERSONAL. Talk only about how the place is being run, not about the people running it. When this is over, we will still have to live with them -- and vice-versa.

Copyright © 2000 The Providence Newspaper Guild
TNG/CWA Local 31041
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