Vol XI, No. 56 TNG/CWA Local 31041 July 6, 2000

Watch the clock! Read the paper!
A Guild Guide for Work-to-Rule
For Classified
For Copy Editors For Display Advt. For Reporters • For Visuals

Here is a work-to-rule guide.

These are not hard and fast mandates, just suggestions, for the work-to-rule program, which begins Monday, July 10.

What is work-to-rule?
It is doing your job. Nothing less. And nothing more.
Every Guild member should look at his or her own job, and decide what makes sense.

What’s important is not the specific job actions that each of us does, but the fact that all of us do what we can.

Using common sense, and our professional conscience, what can we do?
The idea is not to cheat the company by slacking off, but the opposite: to decide what it is that we are required to do, and what is extra.
We want to cut out the extra.

We are looking for an honest day’s work.

But one done in a way that the newspaper’s top management will feel the pain of not having the good will of its workforce.

Think of it as a substitute for a strike – it’s that serious.

It’s meant to make it more difficult and more expensive to put out the paper. It’s not a show of solidarity or protest, but a means to put the screws on, economically. We want to avoid a walkout if we can; but we do need to put pressure on the paper.

The idea is two-fold:
Don’t do anything more than is required.
Eliminate the many things we all do to streamline the complex process of putting out a newspaper. No more shortcuts; no unnecessary efficiency.

Preceding the April 26 membership meeting vote that overwhelming approved work-to-rule, the Guild Leader published some suggestions about what to do. We are repeating some of these ideas here.

But be creative.

Analyze your own work requirements, and then be innovative. There is no Bible that outlines any of this -- a lot of it is making this up as we go along, trial and error. Have fun. Consult your co-workers. And if you have questions and concerns, talk to executive board and unit council members, or pick up the phone and give Tim Schick, the Guild administrator, a call: 421-9466.

One thing you should be aware of is that management will not sit by quietly, especially as work-to-rule takes effect. Managers are likely to cut people less slack, which is their way of retaliating. Some managers live for this kind of rule mongering and they will be in their glory, inventing ways to make our lives difficult.

Although this is meant to send a message to the fourth floor and to Belo executives in Dallas, the immediate strain will fall mostly on middle managers. Try to be considerate of the difficultly they will be under.
The executive board, in scheduling the work-to-rule program, suggested two main principles as the project begins.

1.WATCH THE CLOCK. The most obvious step in a work-to-rule program is to work only the 7.5 hours a day called for in the contract. The exception is if you must work extra, that it be on an overtime basis, and that must be worked out ahead of time with your supervisor.

2. READ THE PAPER. The Providence Journal has always had a general rule that its employees read the paper religiously. For reporters, editors, photographers and visual experts, that’s because one day’s news leads into the next. And obviously advertising sales people and pre-publishing workers need to see how their work turned out.

Often, many people read the paper at home, during breakfast and before work.

The Guild is suggesting that because for us, unlike general readers, reading the paper is work, that it be done at work.

We suggest that you try to begin your work day by reading the paper – so you’ll have a head start on the day’s news and content.

In any case, you should try to fit reading the paper into your schedule whenever you get the chance. But reading the paper is something you should be paid to do.

So remember.

When you see somebody reading the paper, they are helping to make it a good paper. And they are working to rule.

Watch the clock.

Read the paper.

Work to rule.

Work-to-Rule for Classified
· Work carefully. Take the time to get the ad right. Have you read the ad back to the customer? Did you check phone numbers, spellings? Accuracy is everything.
· Don't take short cuts. When picking up proofs, bring back your own, not those of others.
· Take all breaks. Make sure you eat on time. You need periodic breaks from computer work.

Work-to-Rule for Copy Editors

· Do your work,
not somebody else’s. The copy desk is terribly understaffed. It’s not your fault, and don’t try to compensate for management’s stinginess by doing the work of three people.

· Strive for excellence. Is the first head you wrote the best you could do?

· Consult reporters. When making substantial changes in stories, you should talk about the changes with the writers, even the grouchy ones.

Work-to-Rule for Display Advt.

· Manage your accounts.
If customers call in space after deadline, sell them into another day or pass on the ad.

· Schedule your day. Don’t feel you need to be in the office at certain times or even often.

· Refer problems to manager. Whenever a customer has a problem, give him or her the number of the manager in that area.

Work-to-Rule for Reporters

Be diligent. Instead of calling one or two sources, call five or eight. Instead of a phone interview, go to the scene; get original documents.

Restore the Journal's reputation as a writers' paper. Is your lead the best you can do? Try another approach. For many writers, the art of writing is the skill of rewriting.

Don't do the work of two people. Unless, of course, you are paid overtime for it.

Work-to-Rule for Visuals

· One job, one worker. Picture editors should do the job they are scheduled for, not two jobs.

· Be diligent. Keep the Journal one of the nation's top visual papers. Treat every photo shoot as a page one assignment. Make enough pictures, reshoot, be patient.

· Plan carefully. Editors should take time to find out about each job, making sure they are shooting the best event.

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