SPEEDS UP GUILD'S WAGE HIKE CASE
The Guild has won another round in its fight to hike current wage scales by more than 1 percentage point.
Ever since the union
won an arbitrator's ruling July 26 that 1999 pay rates were set too low,
the newspaper has been dragging its feet.
Instead of increasing
the rates, and paying Guild members nearly two years worth of back wages
with interest, the company has tried to delay the matter by asking for
more hearings - a time-consuming process that could add months to a resolution
of the case.
At issue is not whether
pay rates should be higher: Arbitrator Gary D. Altman already decided
that they should be.
Instead, the company
has tried to stall the inevitable, by saying that the Guild's proposed
remedy is so unique that more formal hearings are needed.
The Guild's proposed
payout, however, isn't complicated.
The union wants the
company to adjust 1999 wage rates by increasing the previous year's rates
by 4.0502 percent, instead of the 3.02 percent the company has paid out.
In addition, the union
wants the company to reimburse the bargaining unit's members for the difference
since January 1999, with interest.
It's hardly rocket science, and late last month, Altman notified the American Arbitration Association that hearings aren't needed and it's time to move the process along.
"Of course, I
think the award is crystal clear," Altman wrote, say that there is
only a difference as to the remedy.
be no dispute of fact on this issue," he said. "The sole question
is whose view is consistent with my award; this disagreement can be presented
through briefs of the parties, and if necessary, reply briefs."
Altman ordered lawyers
to send him the written arguments by Dec. 1, and comments on each other's
positions 15 days later. He offered to conduct a telephone conference
call if needed.
The Guild's estimate
is that wages should immediately increase by more than $5 a week for janitors
and more than $9 for reporters, and back pay should be based on the number
of weeks involved.
A pre-publication department specialist, for example, would begin receiving $857.99 a week, instead of the current $849.49 a week - plus back payments.
The case dates back
to 1999, when new pay rates went into effect - the last time Guild wages
The contract's scales
had set the annual increase at 2 percent. But because of a Gainsharing
bonus payout the same year, the contract called for an additional percentage
point to be tacked on, brining the increase to 3.02 percent.
The company granted other company workers the same increase, even though they were no longer covered by Gainsharing, but received bonuses under a cash-only program.
The Guild argued successfully
that the wage rate increase granted to the other unions triggered another
clause in its contract, a so-called "me too" provision that
passes along to the Guild the same pay boosts that other unions get.
In effect, the union
said it should get both its Gainsharing increase, as well as the company-wide
increase, which works out to a more than 4 percent boost.
Altman agreed. And he restated his confidence in his ruling last month.
TNG/CWA Local 31041
270 Westmister St., Providence, Rhode Island 02903
401-421-9466 | Fax: 401-421-9495