Vol XI, No. 68 TNG/CWA Local 31041 November 3, 2000


Married employees with children will see medical insurance rate hikes of 14% to 25% in 2001 under the Company-imposed medical plans. The employee co-pays are 15 % of the total premium cost. The imposition of new medical plans last January and the removal of the cost cap are subjects of Guild filed unfair labor practice charges. The Company will be holding open enrollment on the medical plans Nov. 6 through 17.

Weekly CoPay Employee Employee & Spouse Employee & Children Employee & Family
United HMO $7.63 2% $18.29 19% $14.55 2% $24.46 14%
CIGNA $8.09 1% $19.43 0% $15.38 -9% $25.90 22%
United PPO $8.86 3% $21.26 2% $16.83 -6% $28.34 25%
Dental $0.84 0% $1.72 0% $1.70 0% $2.83 0%

Medical Miracle? Or FairyTale? Heart Assn. to Honor Publisher with'Gold Heart' Award

Did you know that Journal publisher Howard Sutton is "a dynamic force for positive change in Rhode Island"?

Or that he has "a spirit that promotes community health and well-being"?

Bizarre as it may sound to anyone working at the Journal during these union-busting, news-censoring, health-plan-trimming times, two major Rhode Island organizations are honoring Sutton for just those qualities.

Leadership Rhode Island, an educational group that provides select enrollees a 10-month course in statewide issues and leadership skills, is bestowing on Sutton its most prestigious award: the David E. Sweet Leadership Award. This event will take place Nov. 16 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Johnson & Wales Inn on Route 44 in Seekonk.

Then, the American Heart Association will give Sutton its Richard M. Oster Gold Heart Award for Community Service at its sixth annual Gold Heart Award Luncheon on Tuesday, Dec. 12, from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Westin Hotel in Providence. According to the AHA's invitation, this event's purpose is "to celebrate his commitment and contributions to our community" and to hail "the spirit that promotes community health and well-being."

Guild members have a different story to tell about our health and well-being, and we intend to tell it at both these events.

Please mark your calendar and plan to be there, so the truth may be heard.

He says 'no' to company's request to stall payout with time-consuming hearings; instead, he orders written arguments handed in next month

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.

Now, however, the arbitrator has agreed with the union that additional hearings aren't necessary, and instead, he has ordered both sides to submit written arguments next month.

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.

"There should 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 were increased.

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.

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