Vol XI, No. 47 TNG/CWA Local 31041 May 26, 2000


Guild asks mediator for new bargaining session
A week-long byline strike is scheduled June 5

After taking three weeks to review the Guild's latest negotiating proposal, the company Tuesday rejected the offer, and said that it continues to "stand by" its own Jan. 24 proposal.

The newspaper's last offer was rejected by the Guild membership in early February in a 354 to 28 secret ballot vote.

After receiving the company's letter concerning the company's bargaining position, Tim Schick, Guild administrator and chief negotiator, said he will contact federal mediator Paul Chabot and ask him to schedule a new negotiating meeting.

Meanwhile, the executive board met yesterday to set in motion several responses to the company's bargaining tactics.

A one-week byline strike will begin Monday, June 5, through Sunday, June 11.

The board also ordered detailed planning to begin for a work-to-rule program and public rallies.

The membership earlier this year authorized the executive board to call a work-to-rule program; the board had not done so, pending the company's response to the May 3 round of bargaining.

With the company's direction now clear, the board determined to begin the action in the middle of next month.

"The company has the duty to meet and bargain and make proposals," Schick said.

During the May 3 bargaining meeting, conducted under mediator Chabot's supervision, the Guild made what it described as "substantial movement" in its contract position.

The Guild adopted the company's cap on medical insurance premium co-payments; it lowered its wage demand; it proposed a new 401k retirement savings program, based on the plan that the Belo Corp. has said it is offering non-Guild workers throughout the corporation.

The union also proposed payment of a "signing bonus" of 2.75 percent, which is the equivalent of the bonus the company paid to non-Guild workers earlier this year, while foregoing the payment of a "gainsharing" bonus to Guild workers.

In suggesting the bonus, the Guild offered to drop a grievance - now headed for arbitration - in which it contends the company owes the Guild a one-percentage point raise, based on the contract's "me-too" clause that is triggered by pay hikes granted other unions.

(The Guild Leader incorrectly reported May 5 that the grievance to be dropped involved payment of the bonus).

Richard A. Perras, the lawyer who is the company's chief negotiator, wrote to Schick that the company considers the Guild's latest offer "to be widening the gulf between the parties rather than closing the gap between us."

The Guild's proposed drop of the second year wage increase, from 5 to 4 percent, "at this stage of these negotiations, is patently unreasonable," Parris wrote.

The company has offered 3 percent wage hikes in each of three years of a new contract; as of May 3, the Guild's proposal is 5 percent in the first year, and 4 percent in each of the remaining years.

The Guild has said that wage rates are not expected to be a major issue if other elements of the contract can be agreed to.

Parris also contended that the Guild's latest proposal included the added provision of a signing bonus.

But Parris failed to acknowledge that the Guild had offered to drop its grievance on the "me-too" raise, which the union estimates will cost the company $250,000; that the drop in wage demands by one-percentage point is equivalent to a 2 point drop over the term of the agreement; and that the adoption of the medical premium cap is a significant change.

The Guild Goes to A Ball, Spreads Word
of Unstately ProJo Anti-Union Tactics

Decked out in red union T-shirts, Guild members May 13 let some of the state's top corporate and political leaders know how the newspaper is mistreating its major union.

A half-dozen union members distributed leaflets at the "The Celebration of the Century: The State House Centennial Ball."

The reason the union appeared at the event?
It was sponsored in part by The Providence

The guests, in gowns and tuxedos, paid considerable sums (or their companies did) to raise money to preserve the Capitol.

The leaflets urged the contributors to preserve another important state landmark, the Providence Newspaper Guild, thus ensuring a viable newspaper well into the next century.

The yellow and white handouts described the difficult contract negotiations now underway at the paper, and the strained conditions under which Guild members are being forced to work.

Presented with personal copies of the leaflets were publisher Howard G. Sutton, former publisher Steve Hamblett, executive editor Joel P. Rawson, and many other notables, including top GOP National Committeewoman Eileen Slocum, Providence Mayor Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci, Lt.Gov. Charles Fogarty and U.S. Senate candidate Richard Licht.

The union's point, as it has been at similar events in which the company has played a role, is to note the difference between the public-spirited face the newspaper presents to the community and the mean-spirited policies it is trying force on its own workers.

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