The ballot box for secret paper ballots will be open at 12:30 p.m., and remain available today through 7:30 p.m. at the Guild office, 270 Westminster St., across from the University of Rhode Island building.
Tomorrow - Thursday, Feb. 3 - the voting will continue, with the ballot box available at the Guild office between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Discussion of the issues will take place at two membership meetings today. These sessions are scheduled as follows:
The company's proposal does not contain either the Belo pension plan or the Belo 401k, which generally are considered more generous than the Providence Journal plans, and which have been extended to other employees of the newspaper.
At the same time, the company would institute some take-backs, including the elimination of a paid holiday, and does not put into writing its "offer" of free parking, a benefit it says it would have the right to change or cancel at any time.
Company wants to toss grievances, unfair charges
The two labor law issues and many of the grievances have to do with the company's bargaining tactics: selectively implementing contract demands, even though the Guild had neither agreed to them nor ceased bargaining on them.
In one case, the company put its health insurance programs into effect while the Guild was seeking to continue bargaining. The company's health plans, for the most part, are inferior to the contract's current benefits, and do not include Blue Cross plans, which a number of Guild members depend upon for sophisticated medical coverage.
The company also changed its parking program, ignoring contract provisions on the subject; it announced that it would eliminate one of two personal vacation days; and it said that it would extend from three to five years the work time needed to qualify for a third week of vacation.
Some of the grievances deal with these same issues, seeking to have an arbitrator find the company in violation of the contract.
In addition, the grievances - which the company would have the Guild drop simply for agreeing to a new contract - involve the pay and other benefits of a number of individual members.
The grievances also call into question the company's operation of the troubled pre-publishing department, charging that the newspaper is using temporary workers to perform the jobs of union employees, that it is attempting to shift work from higher paid to lower-paid workers; and that it introduced new work processes into the department without properly negotiating the changes with the union.
The Guild also contends that last year, in adjusting the wages of other areas of the company, the newspaper failed to apply the "me-too clause" to appropriately adjust pay levels. The Guild believes the grievance is worth an estimated $250,000 to bargaining unit members
Some of these grievances effect individuals; some the entire bargaining unit. In all cases, the union believes that the company has violated the contract. And the company's negotiating proposal is simply to cast them aside, rather than risk rulings in the Guild's favor by impartial arbitrators.
THE JOHN KIFFNEY AWARD
Each year at the Guild Follies, the union honors a member of the community who reminds us of John Kiffney, a reporter at The Journal for over two decades who died in 1987 of cancer.
John was a reporter's reporter. He was thorough, fair and a fast re-write person who could cover anything, although he excelled at politics and disaster.
He was one of those people who existed in the public realm slightly below the level of celebrity. He wasn't a household name. But if you knew what made the Journal tick, you knew about John Kiffney.
John was a vice president of the Guild and one of founders and producers of the Follies.
The award looks for someone in Rhode Island and our coverage area who has good humor, high integrity and the ability to make things succeed without making himself or herself the center of it all.
Nominations are welcome. Send them to Brian Jones, 7360; Bob Chiappinelli, 8068; and Peter Lord, 8036.
GUILD ON THE WEB
TNG/CWA Local 31041
270 Westmister St., Providence, Rhode Island 02903
401-421-9466 | Fax: 401-421-9495