Vol XI, No. 6TNG/CWA Local 31041January 14, 2000

Friday at Noon: Take a Moment to Reflect


Just for a minute.

That's what the Guild is asking its members to do today, Friday, Jan. 14, at noon. If you are at a desk, eating lunch, running a computer, pushing a broom, just stop for a minute.

Say nothing.

And use the minute of silence to reflect on what the company is attempting to do to you and your union.

Use the moment to consider how it is trying to diminish your contract, take away benefits that your union has negotiated over several decades.

Think, for a minute, on the cavalier way that the company has toyed with that most personal and precious of protections for you and your family: health benefits. It's worth a moment or two to remember that some of you co-workers' lives have been turned upside down by the arbitrary cancellation of vital Blue Cross & Blue Shield insurance.

And how, having been forced into a single health plan, you are now paying more for less - with the company trying to deny your bargaining team the right to negotiate better terms. How when some of you went to the drug store to fill prescriptions that you had to haggle with a pharmacist because the company hadn't enrolled you in the health plan, even though it had deducted premiums from your paycheck.

How, when the red-tape is untangled that you will be paying higher premiums than you were just last month, paying more for prescriptions, more to see the doctor, with less choice for you and your family as to how you get your medical care and from whom. Reflect on the mean-spirited way that the company has handled one of the most sensitive working conditions: parking, by denying Guild members free parking simply because the union wants to be assured that everyone will get the benefit, and that it won't be snatched away at a whim.

Take more than a few seconds to realize that the company is making no move to give you what everyone else in the company has: improved pension and 401k benefits. Think how hard you have worked over the past several years learning to run new machinery, to take up the slack for a smaller workforce.

And how the company, while taking away last year's contract benefits, is asking you to continue to earn last year's wages, and pay more for health insurance.

Take a minute to think how your work and the work of your colleagues has created one of America's great newspapers, made it wonderful and made it rich.

And wherever you are, whatever you are doing, take a minute to think of the way the company has rewarded you and your union.

So be silent today at noon.

Just for a minute.

Tell Us Your Horror Stories

We all know by now that the company has blown its handling of health insurance big time. We need you to tell us your experiences, so we can make sure federal labor officials know exactly what is going on here.

To recap:

1. First, the company shoved inferior health coverage down our throats, depriving seriously ill workers of the Blue Cross coverage they need to survive and making the rest of us pay more for less coverage.

2. Then, they neglected to do the paperwork needed to keep even that coverage in place - something we only discovered when we try to fill a prescription, or visit a doctor, and get charged a fortune.

Few of us have been hit as hard as Dick Cady, who retired from the Promotions Department in 1996. Now living in Santa Fe, he was about to schedule his next round of chemotherapy when he discovered he had no Blue Cross.

He had nothing, not even the lame HMO the company was supposed to substitute automatically.

"I should have known something was up, because I never heard in November'' about the annual chance to change health insurance plans, said Cady. "When my pension check arrived in January, there was no deduction for insurance, so I realized something was definitely wrong."

Cady called Human Resources "three or four" times, looking for an explanation. They never even called him back.

Not until he asked a friend who still works in Promotions to intercede for him did he get a call. He said this week the company is still looking into his case, and he is awaiting word. Meanwhile, he doesn't want to schedule the chemotherapy until he knows if he can pay for it.

It's too high a price to pay for saving a few bucks.

Copyright © 2000 The Providence Newspaper Guild
TNG/CWA Local 31041
270 Westmister St., Providence, Rhode Island 02903
401-421-9466 | Fax: 401-421-9495