ABOUT THE GUILD
E-MAIL THE GUILD
|Vol XI, No. 66
||TNG/CWA Local 31041
||October 16, 2000
BANTERS WITH GUILD PROTESTERS
OUR OWN WORDS
By Tony De Paul
West Bay News Bureau, Oct. 8
an advertising and circulation boycott of The Journal, not because
I think it's a good thing, or that it's going to be pleasant, or
It's going to
be ugly as hell.
But I support
a boycott because it's the only avenue left open to us.
We did not deal
ourselves this hand. The bullies in charge dealt it by refusing
to negotiate. Any financial damage done to The Journal will be their
responsibility, not ours.
Of course, what
they really want is for us to strike. They could probably continue
to publish, and probably replace us permanently. I have to say,
my instinct is to strike.
we have ample reason to strike. But I think it would be foolish
to take the bait.
A boycott will
enable us to respond to the company's provocations, and respond
effectively, while staying inside.
This task ahead
will determine whether we are a union in fact or in name only. We're
either willing to protect our interests or we aren't.
If we don't
have the stomach for fighting back with real effect, that is, for
denying the company some of the profits that we normally produce,
then I suggest we take the offer that's on the table, vote to decertify
the Guild, and agree to live under the company's thumb without complaint.
Some of my friends
who don't want to fight back are raising valid concerns about a
boycott causing permanent damage to the newspaper. Of course, no
one in the Guild wants to hurt The Journal. To the contrary, we
do an often-excellent job at a time when management has made it
nearly impossible to do an adequate job.
But I think
you have to harden your heart if you mean to play this game that
the company is pitching. That starts with realizing that The Journal
is not a social service agency, and it's not a priesthood.
More than ever,
The Journal is a business. Indeed, we find ourselves in this position
precisely because the paper has behaved as any mere business might.
Finally, I think
that in this unhappy task of bleeding the company for, say, 10,000
subscribers over the next 10 weeks, we have this cold comfort: that
unless the newspaper changes course we are almost certainly going
to lose those readers anyway.
spent a decade leading the franchise downhill by 2 to 3 percent
a year. The paper is fundamentally on the wrong track. Everyone
knows it. I remember when we used to worry about sales of the daily
paper falling below 200,000; today the slow bleed has us in the
150s and still -- still! -- no one in authority has a plan for reinventing
the amazing vanishing newspaper.
us aping TV on Page One and shoveling tons of low-grade ore into
the inside pages. It has not worked. It will never work. Still,
our marching orders stand: Do more of what doesn't work.
I want to believe
that this boycott could make The Journal a better paper in the long
run, simply by bringing on the kind of immediate crisis that might
finally get some constructive attention focused on the circulation
It's time for
the Guild to lead, and to claim a greater role in shaping our livelihoods.
That starts with doing whatever it takes to get a fair contract.
Only then do we have even a small hope of getting this troubled
enterprise, with all its misspent energies and wasted talents and
titanic egos, focused on our common self-interest: the need to build
and sell a better newspaper.
Leader encourages members to express their views in the union newsletter.
Letters will be published if they are from members who are in good
standing. To submit letters, contact Brian Jones in the newsroom,
7360; at home, 847-0307; and by email at email@example.com.
Publisher encounters union leafleters at Westin
event, insists that he won't "negotiate in a driveway''
Guild members handed
out leaflets to hundreds of people during last Friday's dinner honoring
Howard Sutton, including the guest of honor himself and a pair of bemused
Providence policemen summoned by nervous security men.
The Volunteer Center
of Rhode Island, at its annual Fall Fling at the Westin Hotel, was feting
Sutton, the Journal publisher, for his role in promoting volunteerism.
The Guild's fliers, distributed on the street corner outside the hotel,
told attendees "the rest of the story" about a company whose
treatment of unionized employees "is far from humanitarian."
Guild members also
displayed a banner proclaiming, "ProJo: Profits over People,'' easily
visible to rush-hour motorists on Sabin and West Exchange Streets.
When Sutton and his
wife pulled into the Westin driveway in their SUV, Claire LaRue, a former
executive board member, approached the driver's side window and asked
Sutton to take a flier. He did, and according to LaRue, he pointed to
the hand-lettered, cloth banner and remarked, "You must have spent
a lot of money on that sign.'' LaRue replied, "None of us have a
lot of money right now."
Sutton commented that
the weather was nicer than at a State House event that the Guild had leafleted
earlier this year. LaRue said she told him:
"We're out there
no matter what. We'll do whatever it takes to get a fair contract."
Sutton then greeted
Guild president Bob Jagolinzer, who approached the SUV. Jagolinzer said
he told Sutton that he believed the Guild and the company were not "that
far apart" on a contract. Sutton replied that he didn't want to "negotiate
in a driveway," according to Jagolinzer. He also said, "The
offer is there."
"That's the offer
our people have rejected," Jagolinzer said he told the publisher.
Sutton then shrugged,
said "Good evening," and drove up to give his car to the valets.
Numerous Guild members
participated in the leafleting, which lasted for two hours. Initially,
they unfurled the banner and positioned themselves directly in front of
the hotel entrance, but hotel personnel asked them to move to the sidewalk
at the end of the driveway. Everyone did so without protest.
Later, however, a
Guild member reminded a hotel employee that taxpayers had paid for the
hotel's construction, and asked how a publicly financed facility could
ban a public protest from its sidewalk. The hotel did not relent, and
the Guild member returned to the street without incident.Nevertheless,
the hotel called the police, and two cruisers' flashing lights drew more
attention to the Guild's protest.
The two policemen
eagerly accepted the Guild's leaflets and asked the Guild members to continue
to stay away from the hotel entrance. Everyone agreed to do so.
Guild members gave
leaflets to people in cars waiting in line for the valets and also distributed
leaflets to people walking in from the garage. Virtually everyone accepted
the leaflets and read them.
Following through on
the instructions of the membership meeting Oct. 10, the Guild is writing
to the United Way of Southeastern New England, telling its officials that
the union is recommending members give through the Guild or individually.
WILL TELL UNITED WAY
ABOUT NEW POLICY
The letter will explain
that union members resent the company's request to contribute as part
of its corporate campaign, when management is out to destroy the union.
But it will also say that the Guild wholeheartedly supports the goals
of the United Way. A similar letter will be sent to the AFL-CIO.
The union is setting
up the machinery for members to donate through the Guild. Members who
have already filed company forms can ask for them back.
Copyright © 2000 The Providence Newspaper Guild
TNG/CWA Local 31041
270 Westmister St., Providence, Rhode Island 02903
401-421-9466 | Fax: 401-421-9495