Dodges Contract Talks,
The Providence Guild
continues to call for negotiating sessions with the Journal, even as the
Journal negotiators told a federal mediator they were not available for
Guild officials believe
the Journal is dodging contract talks in order to create a campaign issue
in the effort by the Journal's outside circulation department to join
The Company's 100
Delivery Service Representative will be voting by mail ballot from June
9 through June 26 in a mail ballot election supervised by the National
Labor Relations Board. Ballots will be counted June 27.
Meanwhile, the Journal
is again pressuring Guild members to accept the contract proposal they
rejected 354-28 three months ago.
In a letter to Guild
members that was distorted as much by what was left out as by what was
actually said, the Journal last week reaffirmed the company's take-it-or-leave-it
approach to negotiations that continues to prolong the talks.
The letter both misrepresented
the Guild's moves designed to bring the two sides toward agreement, and
threatened again to worsen, rather than improve, the company's last offer.
continues to give a one-sided and inaccurate description of the negotiations,"
Bob Jagolinzer, Guild president, said last the weekend.
"The fact is
that the company is trying to force the Guild to accept a second-rate
contract that is worse in many respects than the one we have now. More
seriously, it would be inferior to the benefits the company provides its
other workers," Jagolinzer said.
The Journal claimed
that the company's offer is an improvement over terms of the current contract.
Over and over, the
Journal tries separate members from what it calls the "Guild leadership,"
referring to the "new Guild leadership offer," imploring members
to lobby "your union leadership" to adopt the company's view.
The Journal ignores
the fact that the Guild's contract proposals are membership driven. They
are the result of membership survey's, meetings and votes.
Unlike Journal management,
the Guild leadership is democratically elected - in fact; they currently
are in the process of being reelected.
Guild decisions are
made by town-meeting style forums and secret mail ballots, and that the
company's offer was rejected in the biggest "no" vote in local
position all along has been reasonable and modest, trying to win equitable
benefits, and at the same time, attempting to solve workplace problems
in a way that will make the newspaper better," said Guild president
But the company has
refused to discuss constructive ideas like allowing Guild members a voice
in advertising incentives, has avoided solving ruinous problems in pre-publishing,
and declined to improve contract provisions for job-sharing and other
problem-solving moves that might encourage employees to stay at the newspaper.
Instead, the company
- in the Guild's view - repeatedly has violated federal labor law by illegally
changing contract provisions.
"At a time when
the Journal faces critical issues - including the newspaper's steadily
declining circulation and the challenge of adapting to new Internet and
other technological changes - the company chooses to waste its resources
by waging war on its workers,'' Jagolinzer said.
- the 500 women and men represented by the Guild - deserve much better
for their loyalty, their hard work and their creative efforts to make
the company succeed and profit," Jagolinzer said.
"They deserve a speedy and fair resolution to contract negotiations," the union president said. "And they deserve to be spoken to with honesty and respect."
The Journal stated:
"if judged by objective standards, (the company's offer) is superior
to what employees at other companies are receiving and not only maintains
but extends the conditions that Providence Journal Company employees have
The Guild has, from
the beginning of negotiations been willing to modify the benefits provided
by the contract. However, Guild members must not lose in the deal.
For years we have
enjoyed medical, pension and holiday benefits superior to those provided
to non-Guild workers. In recent years non-Guild workers have had somewhat
better retirement benefits.
What the Company is
seeking to do is if offer the inferior portions of the Belo benefits,
while withholding the portions that are better.
presented by the Guild leadership have increased," the Journal said,
posturing that he is "at a loss to explain how the new Guild leadership
is an attempt to move us closer."
On May 3, the Guild
lowered its wage demand by dropping the second year wage increase from
5 percent to 4 percent. And the union has said it does not expect wages
to be an issue, if other issues are resolved.
Also, the union adopted
the company's cap on health insurance premiums, agreeing to have workers
pay a full 5 percent of premiums.
The union also changed
its retirement package to provide for the new 401k plan that the Belo
Corp. is offering to other workers.
The union proposed
a 2.75% signing bonus to resolve the unfair payment of a bonus to non-Guild
workers earlier this year, when the company bypassed a "gainsharing"
bonus to the Guild. The union also offered to drop a pay-hike grievance,
which we estimate is worth $250,000.
The Journal wrote
that the company has offered "superior health and dental benefits
(the same benefits enjoyed by me, the Publisher, non-union employees,
Teamsters, and Pressmen)."
The Journal also declares
that the Guild continues to seek a Blue Cross option "that the company
knows the carrier will not provide on any reasonable basis."
Blue Cross told the Guild that it would offer coverage to the Journal if employees were offered a range of its plans: Classic, BlueCHiP HMO and Coast-to-Coast. Blue Cross does not want to offer just Classic, because it feels the numbers of insured persons in that plan is too low.
"I have seen
it written on multiple occasions and in quotes from union leaders that
the company is trying to break the union. I can tell you unequivocally
that that is not true, and that we have told your leadership formally
and informally that is not true," the Journal said.
If the company is
not trying to attack the union, why is it attempting to impose inferior
benefits on Guild members?
company has proposed putting off the discussion of pensions, trying to
defer negotiations to contract re-openers months after the main agreement
has been hashed out. The re-opener approach is an illusion. The Guild
has no guarantee that the company will offer benefits equal to other workers.
The Company has illegally
imposed the worst of its contract proposals on the Guild - more costly
medical benefits, a lost holiday - while cutting off dues collection and
trying to encourage members to quit the union. It repeatedly has violated
terms of the contract, forcing the union to file more than 20 grievances
and two unfair labor practice complaints, and the company has twice run
to court in an attempt to prevent enforcement of the contract.
The company has dangled
illusory benefits in front of Guild members, proposing "free parking,"
which at first blush seems like a solution to a painful and long-term
issue, but at second glance actually would strip written parking benefits
from the contract and give the company exclusive rights to cancel or change
parking benefits at its whim.
Meanwhile, the company
is using unprincipled tactics in trying to discourage 105 outside circulation
workers from joining the Guild - illegally and inaccurately warning those
prospective members that they will lose pension benefits they enjoy now
if they join our union.
How is any of this "not anti-union"?
TNG/CWA Local 31041
270 Westmister St., Providence, Rhode Island 02903
401-421-9466 | Fax: 401-421-9495