ABOUT THE GUILD
E-MAIL THE GUILD
|Vol XI, No. 69
||TNG/CWA Local 31041
||October 27, 2000
TO VOTE ON BOYCOTT; STRIKE VETS WILL HELP EFFORT
cutbacks appear to be in the works at The Providence Journal, despite
robust prosperity both at the newspaper and throughout southeastern
comply with a cost-cutting edict from its Dallas owners, management
of the Journal is considering eliminating the Monday local news
section, regional editors in the Journal's six local news bureaus
have been told.
vacancies are also going unfilled in the advertising department,
and the union is aware of reports that the physical size of the
paper itself may be trimmed, in the same way that the Boston Globe
has already done.
plans are being discussed as a way of as a way of saving money in
anticipation of an increase in newsprint costs.
discussion of chopping local news from five days a week to four,
and other cost-trimming schemes come after the paper's ad salespeople
were told that the Journal is $2 million ahead of its revenue projections
for the year -- and that is before the Christmas advertising season
New York Times reported this week that A.H. Belo is among media
companies increasingly concerned whether Wall Street investors are
satisfied with their already high profit margins.
example, The Times said that 5 to 7 percent budget
cuts are being talked about at The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily
News because corporate owners want to get profit margins up from
19 percent to 21 percent.
potential cutbacks at The Journal seem to be part of a pattern.
Since Dallas-based Belo took over the Journal in 1997, it has whittled
away at the Journal's reporting staff.
vacancies have been filled, but in some cases the reporters who
were promoted to fill those slots have not been replaced.
butcher bill for 2001 will be three reporter positions (five are
already vacant) and three two-year intern slots. The plan to leave
the intern positions unfilled is particularly galling, especially
considering that the money one of the Journal's anti-labor lawyers
makes in two hours is about the pay that a two-year intern earns
state staff is starved to where it is not unusual to have bureaus
empty of reporters until 3 p.m. Regional editors responsible for
covering anywhere from 6 to 11 towns may have only one reporter
working a day. In some cases bureaus have had to get by on two reporters
for a week.
it happens, dropping local news on Mondays would be an abandonment
of the paper's much ballyhooed local news commitment, the centerpiece
of the paper's marketing strategy for the past decade.
will be hard to sell the Journal as a hometown news source at the
same time the company is cutting back on that news by 20 percent.
also demonstrates why we have to get a good contract. If Belo and
its current management are left to their own devices, they will
cut pay and benefits to the bone, again in the name of short-term
gains that will, in the long run, water down the newspaper.
A strong Guild
and a good contract will not only protect us, it will protect this
paper. It will mean that there will be some people here who are
interested in protecting the quality of an institution they have
known for decades, not a 'property' to be bled dry for short-term
Becker to lay boycott groundwork; membership will be asked for green light
The Guild's plans
for a circulation boycott of the Journal are moving ahead on two fronts:
· The executive committee voted Monday to schedule a
membership vote that would put the boycott into effect, after the groundwork
-- the boycott pledge drive -- has been completed and the union leadership
determines that the action is needed.
· At the same time, two veterans of the Guild, Frank
E. Keane and Irwin N. Becker, have agreed to work as temporary staff members
to help prepare for the possible boycott.
Keane was president
of the Guild during the 1973 strike, and is regarded as one of the union's
major leaders. A former copy editor and desk chief, Keane retired several
years ago and now is a copy editor for the Providence Business News and
an instructor at Bristol Community College in Fall River.
Becker was a Guild
activist and sparkplug during the 1973 strike. He was one of three strikers
the company attempted to fire after the 13-day walkout. The Guild won
him a cash settlement and the rescinding of his termination. Becker later
went on to a number of social-justice leadership positions in Rhode Island,
and recently retired as director of a non-profit housing agency serving
Providence's Elmwood neighborhood.
No date was set for
a membership meeting that will be asked to give the boycott the green
However, the executive
committee felt it is important that the membership be asked for final
approval of the action, given its importance.
The vote will be scheduled
when the foundation has been put in place for a boycott, and when the
executive committee and the negotiating committee feel the time is right
to recommend the action to the members.
for a boycott are moving forward, as the Guild works with the 80,000-member
AFL-CIO, to distribute pledge cards to union workers and their families
in which they would promise to support a sales boycott if one is called.
The executive committee
has launched boycott preparations as part of its effort to bring contract
negotiations to a successful conclusion.
Those signing cards
would pledge not to buy the paper if a boycott is declared. After the
boycott, the Guild would restart the subscriptions and contact each customer,
asking him or her to resume buying the paper.
The work is a classic
grassroots effort, in which boycott materials must be put in the hands
of union members from Westerly to Woonsocket, and efforts coordinated
between Guild volunteers and members of unions supporting the Guild.
The executive committee
felt it would help to have some full-time staff work to move this process
along, especially since many of the tasks involve weekday work when many
Guild members are themselves on the job.
The union had planned
to have some of its own members take Guild leaves from the company, with
the Guild replacing their salaries.
However, the company
rejected one member's request to take two days off each week, and proposed
a one-day-a-week absence instead.
The Guild believes
the company's move is a serious violation of the contract, which requires
the Company to provide union leaves.
The union has filed
an unfair labor practices charge with the National Labor Relations Board,
and feels it is important to defend the leave portion of the contract.
Copyright © 2000 The Providence Newspaper Guild
TNG/CWA Local 31041
270 Westmister St., Providence, Rhode Island 02903
401-421-9466 | Fax: 401-421-9495