GOES BACK TO COURT
Persisting in its
misuse of the legal system as a weapon against the Guild, The Journal
Co. has appealed the U.S. District Court ruling that upheld the union's
win in the parking arbitration case.
This means that resolution
of the dispute, now 2-½ years old, will be delayed even further.
The appeal is another
example of the company's abuse of the court system to escape its losses
through the grievance and arbitration system.
It is unusual for
either companies or unions to appeal arbitration decisions. Courts generally
frown on such moves, as the whole idea of arbitration is to provide a
way for management and labor to resolve disagreements relatively quickly
But the company's tactics have been to resort to what the union believes are frivolous lawsuits with two apparent motives:
The parking court
case is one of three court suits that the company has filed against the
Guild in attacking the binding arbitration system.
The company also has
run to federal court to
block the Guild from arbitrating the company's cancellation of payroll
dues collection. And it has filed suit to prevent the union from arbitrating
a grievance in which it contends that six members with lifetime job guarantees
should receive raises and other benefits granted non-Guild workers.
As it has with the
company's foot-dragging tactics at the bargaining table, the Guild has
stood up to the stall-in-court ploy - helped by the fact that The Newspaper
Guild/Communications Workers of America is picking up all of the local's
The Guild has won
all the rounds in the parking case: the arbitration and the initial court
Last Friday, the company
indicated that it was going to the legal well again: the union was notified
that the company has appealed to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in
the First District.
While the outcome
of any legal case is never guaranteed, this appeal seems even more frivolous
than the earlier parking maneuvers, in light of how clearly the lower
court worded its opinion in the Guild's favor.
"This shows the
lengths the company will go to avoid their contractual obligations,"
said Tim Schick, the Guild administrator. "I'm confident that we
will prevail. Meanwhile, what the company owes our members is increasing
The union filed the
grievance March 11, 1998, protesting the fact that employees, who had
purchased daily discount tickets to the company-owned Parkade Garage in
back of the Biltmore Hotel, were being turned away when the garage was
filling with other parkers.
"As the arbitrator ruled, when Guild members bought parking coupons, they were attempting to purchase parking," Schick said. "They were not buying lottery tickets."
TAXI STORY - PART II
GUILD'S WITHDRAWAL OF REPORTERS' CARS CONTINUES TO VEX PAPER
Newshounds dodge company potholes enroute to primary; Business reporter told to take a bus to where no buses go; Editor says reporter "less valuable" if he won't use car
The newspaper is
continuing to steer a wobbly course in trying to contend with a Guild's
job action, in which some reporters are refusing to use their cars for
The paper put roadblocks
in the way of one more reporter's attempt to carry out an assignment.
One editor, after turning down a reporter for an out-of-city taxi cab
ride, declared that he now considers him "less valuable" because
he won't make his car available for news assignments.
That comment is
out of line, since the reporter is one of about 30 who never have been
required to use their cars for business, and whose transportation requirements
thus are the responsibility of the newspaper.
In addition, Tim
Schick, the Guild's administrator, said the comment runs afoul of federal
"It is illegal
for the company to discriminate against employees because of their participation
in job actions," Schick said.
Earlier this summer,
the Guild told the company that not all Providence-based reporters would
continue using their cars to get to their assignments. The action was
taken as part of the union's work-to-rule program authorized by the
membership and begun in June as a response to the company's illegal
Under the Guild
contract, use of cars by many Providence-based reporters is discretionary.
They can use them if they want to, and then are reimbursed on a per-mile
But it's a costly
proposition for these reporters: they don't get the monthly car allowance
provided state staff bureau reporters, photographers and advertising
sales representatives who are required to use their cars. And they have
to pay for their own parking around The Journal building, unlike the
others, who get free parking.
Some reporters never
have used their cars, including Carol McCabe, the legendary former feature
writer, book editor and Washington correspondent who didn't own a car.
Former investigative reporter Bob Kramer pursued underworld figures
in rented cars and rarely, if ever used his own
to using one's own car has been to beg rides with photographers, or
to use taxi cabs, public transportation and rental cars.
When reporter Karen
Lee Ziner attempted to order a cab to interview a political candidate
in Johnston, the cab company told her about the change. The candidate
came to Providence.
Now, Russ Garland,
a business reporter, has had to navigate the company's penny-pinching
Working on a story
for his regular feature on small businesses, he told financial editor
John Kostrzewa that he needed to go to Richmond, and asked whether he
should take a cab or some other form of transportation.
Some days later,
Kostrzewa said Garland's options were to use his car or take a bus.
The editor said cab trips outside city limits were not authorized, except
in special circumstances where trips close to Providence might be permitted.
Then Kostrzewa made
the inappropriate comment that, with Garland declining to use his car
for assignments, the reporter would now be "less valuable"
Garland stuck to
his guns. He wouldn't use his car. And he couldn't take a bus to Richmond:
Rhode Island Public Transit Authority's buses don't go there.
Not wanting to victimize
the subject of the story, Garland arranged to meet her at a conference
room that her company retains in Providence. But he said that was a
compromise, since he feels that business profiles are best done within
a company's environment.
Meanwhile, the newspaper
continued its erratic course Sept. 12, the day of the primary election.
Ariel Sabar, who
was covering the Second Congressional District race, asked his editor
ahead of time how he would be able to get to polling places outside
Providence; it was decided that Sabar would use "Car One,"
the scanner/cell phone-equipped Jeep usually piloted by Providence police
That worked out
well for last Tuesday, but probably won't be a generally practical solution,
since, as everyone who has had the police beat knows, there is no Car
At the same time,
reporters assigned to campaign headquarters outside Providence asked
how they would get to their assignments. Initially, editors advised
them to hitch rides with photographers.
But photo editors
said that wouldn't work, especially for return trips, as photographers
had to come back to the paper as soon as they made their pictures, while
reporters needed to stay longer for candidates' speeches.
Word then was passed that reporters - this time only - could ride to the headquarters with photographers and take cabs back to the paper.
TNG/CWA Local 31041
270 Westmister St., Providence, Rhode Island 02903
401-421-9466 | Fax: 401-421-9495