Vol XI, No. 60 TNG/CWA Local 31041 August 3, 2000

Guild Seeks Speedy Arbitration Payout


Work-to-rule has entered its fourth week.

The program was instituted by the membership and the executive board July 10, as a means of putting more economic pressure on the company in the union's drive to reach a fair contract.

The prime tenets of the program:

  • Work only scheduled hours.
  • Be as thorough as possible in all tasks. The purpose is to do only what is required - and to do that has fully as possible.

The purpose is to do only what is required – and to do that has fully as possible.

The newspaper benefits ordinarily from thousands of unpaid "extras" contributed by the Guild bargaining unit’s 500 members.

This includes such things as coming in early, staying late, skipping lunch and supper, foregoing work breaks and looking for opportunities to take shortcuts in our work.

The executive board feels the work-to-rule program is going well. It appears that members are adhering strictly to the 7½-hour day, and either leaving after that, or making arrangements with supervisors for overtime.

Executive board members will be meeting with members of select work areas in the coming weeks to expand and refine the program.

If you have ideas, suggestions and concerns about the program, and would like to have such a meeting with your coworkers, or with a member of the board, please contact us.

The board includes the following: Bob Jagolinzer, Jeff Andrade, Greg Smith, John Hill, Tom Bunn, Felice Freyer, Brian Jones, Kerry Kohring, Clair LaRue, Ellen Liberman, and Karen Senerchia.

how pay could be affected
  Current Estimated Difference
Reporter $978.60 $988.39 $9.79
Ad sales rep. $1001.93 $1011.95 $10.02
Porter $505.43 $510.49 $5.06
Pre-pub specialist $849.49 $857.99 $8.50

Arbitrator to oversee
how award is granted

The Guild believes that the arbitration case just won by the union should translate quickly into a higher pay rate for bargaining unit members, as well as a prompt cash payment for back pay.

The decision by arbitrator Gary D. Altman last week supported the Guild's position that the union should have received a higher wage hike than was granted by the company in 1999.

The Guild believes the wage hike should have been 4.0502 percent - compared with the 3.02 percent that bargaining unit members actually received from the company.

Moreover, the back pay for the past 19 months should be paid with interest, the Guild believes, since the company has had the use of the Guild bargaining unit's money during this time because of the underpayments.

For reporters, the Guild calculates that the 1999 pay rates - the ones currently in effect - should be $988.39 a week, instead of the $978.60 those workers have been receiving.

That's a $9.79 difference every week, or an estimated $783 in gross back pay since new wage rates took effect Jan. 1, 1999.

Tim Schick, the Guild's administrator, said that the company should need only a reasonable amount of time to calculate and implement the new wage rates, and to pay out the retroactive cash.

One factor that should help in the payment of the increase is the decision by arbitrator Altman to "retain jurisdiction" in the case for 30 days.

The Guild had asked the arbitrator to remain active should there be disputes about the solution, and he did just that in his July 26 decision.

"I will retain jurisdiction for 30 days should there be any question with respect to implementation of this remedy," Altman wrote.

The Guild filed the grievance after it examined pay raises handed out to both the Guild and to other union and non-union workers last year, and concluded that Guild members should have received more money.

Here's why:

The Guild and other unions - the Teamsters and the Pressmen - all have clauses in their contracts that provide that if one gets a hike in base wages, the others will get the same, keeping everyone roughly even.

Meanwhile, the Guild has a provision that can further increase the base wages, under the so-called Gainsharing bonus plan. That adds 1 percentage point to base wages during years that company-established Gainsharing goals are met.

When Gainsharing goals were realized for Guild workers for 1999 wages, that meant that instead of getting only a 2 percent raise provided for in the contract's annual pay schedule, its wage rate was hiked 3.02 percent (which included compounding).


·Don't rush. Just because pages are coming in from the newsroom late, doesn't mean that a specialist has to do a sloppy job pushing things along dangerously fast. Do the job right, regardless of the hour. Be careful, be thorough, do a good job.

· Be careful of color. Make sure, if there are color and black and white ads on the same page, that the black and white ads don't have color elements. It may take time to check. But it's necessary to make sure color doesn't appear where it shouldn't.

· Enough proofs? Color ads are required to have two color proofs and one black and white. Don't be lazy. Make sure you produce the required number.

· Art warning: Does the picture go with the item in the ad? Nothing worse, for the customer as well as the reader, to be looking at an ad showing an Acura 2000 RL, when what's being talked about is an Acura NSX. This may mean going to the hard CD library, if the image isn't in Cascade, and getting the right stuff.

· Take your breaks. Some 15-minutes breaks are scheduled in the hour when the pre-run sections, including Lifebeat and Financial, are coming up. Resist the temptation to skip your breaks.

Non-Guild workers received the same rate of wage increase, 3.02 percent.

But at the time, the company had shifted the other unions and workers out of Gainsharing and into the A.H. Belo Corporation's so-called "Profit Performance Bonus" plan, which pays out annual cash bonuses, but doesn't provide for accompanying hikes in the base wage scales.

Thus, in 1999, there were two different bonus payments:

The Guild got a 1 percent cash bonus, and 1 percent added onto its scheduled 2 percent wage hike in accordance with the Gainsharing program.

The Pressmen, the Teamsters and non-union workers received a lump-sum cash payment of 2.25 percent under the Profit Performance Bonus, more than twice the Guild's bonus.

But the company adjusted the wage rates of the other workers, just as if they were still on the Gainsharing system. They saw a 3.02 percent increase, the same level that the Guild workers received.

The Guild argued - and the arbitrator agreed - that what should havehappened was that the company should have provided the Guild the total 3.02 percent wage rate increase, since that's what the other unions got, and then added another 1 percentage pointto that because of Gainsharing.

The Guild argued in the arbitration case that its base wage increase in 1999 should be 4.0502 percent, thecombination of the wage rates paid in general, in addition to gainsharing's 1 percentage point add-on.

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