Vol XI, No. 74 TNG/CWA Local 31041 Dec. 6, 2000


'Can we settle some pending issues?'
Do you have questions about negotiations, Guild policy, medical benefits, or anything else involving the union and our effort to get a new contract? Please contact Brian Jones, other members of the executive board, or Tim Schick, the Guild administrator. You also can e-mail them to png@riguild.org. We will do our best to answer them in upcoming Guild Leaders.

Today's question and answer are based on an exchange last weekend over the union's "listserv," a network that allows e-mail discussion via the Internet. If you have a home computer and would like to participate in the listserv, e-mail tonydepaul@aol.com.

QUESTION: Are negotiations a thing of the past now? Why don't we revisit and hopefully resolve some pending issues? Am I allowed to say that?

ANSWER: Yes, you are allowed to say it. Your message reflects what I've heard from several people, which is: 'Why don't we try to settle some aspects of the contract?'

The simple answer is because the company has refused to accept anything short of total surrender from the Guild.

The company has refused to meet with us since July. And even on that date they refused to meet with us face-to-face.

There are a number of neutrals who have been involved in issues related to negotiations. They all are amazed and outraged at the company's behavior.

A place to start settling issues would be with grievances (we currently have 20 arbitrations pending.) Instead the company insists on litigating (and mostly losing).

The Guild has filed several charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seeking a "complaint" against the Journal. Similar to an indictment, a complaint charges the company with violating labor law. We allege that the company has done this by imposing changes in our medical, vacation, holiday, and parking provisions.

In the context of the pending charges, the federal mediator, the NLRB agents and our lawyer contacted the company regarding what it would take to settle everything. Our positions were very reasonable. The company response was they would rather go to trial than settle!

Under the company final offer, management would reduce the pay scale for all new pre-publishing department employees, and be able to make whatever changes they want in work duties - without negotiating with the union.

Under the company proposal, the NLRB charges and pending grievances (including those we've won but are tied up in company litigation) would be dropped.

Under the company proposal management could change medical plans anytime they wanted.

Under the company proposal, workers would have a phantom right to parking. The company could eliminate it anytime without challenge from the Guild. We have spent years getting a parking benefit, and the company wants to take it away.

Under the company proposal we would get no improvements in pensions or 401(k)'s even though this has been done for all other Belo employees. (The company has refused to talk to us about it. We've asked the NLRB to charge the company with refusing to provide the Guild with information regarding pensions and 401(k)s.)

The Guild bargaining team and the executive board have been willing to consider any reasonable proposal from the company. Our bargaining positions were based on a survey of our members. We did not put outrageous proposals on the table.

This is not a petty squabble of minor issues. The company is attempting to destroy the union. No joke. No exaggeration.

-- Tim Schick, Guild administrator

Sutton to get
'Gold Heart' from respected RI group;
Guild rally to note lack of heart in negotiations

Tuesday, Dec. 12, is your chance to tell the Journal Company, and anyone else who happens by in downtown Providence, how you feel about the way the company has treated you.

At noon, the American Heart Association will give Howard Sutton its Gold Heart Award, to "hail the spirit that promotes community health and well-being."

The world needs to know that the Journal doesn't give a hoot about its own employees' well being.

We are, after all, a big part of this community.

And the Journal needs to know that we are angry, united and steadfast.

So our usual leafleting of such events is being expanded into a rally.

The rally will be outside the Westin Hotel, across from the Journal, from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Even if you can only come for 20 minutes, please be there.

The company illegally imposed the bad stuff (increased health insurance costs, fewer holidays), denied us the good stuff (raises, gain-sharing and bonuses), and won't even talk to us about making our pensions equal to those of nonunion people.

We're not going to let them get away with that.

And on Tuesday, we'll let everyone hear how we feel about it.

Tales from Belo

Attention Belo Corp. employees:

Belonging to a labor union in Providence can get you on the corporation's bad side. But simply asking for a pay hike in non-union Dallas also can wear out your welcome.

That's the lesson of a story published in the Nov. 16 edition of Newspapers & Technology, although it's a point that won't come as too much of a surprise to those of us at the Providence Journal, where Belo's managers are out to bust the Guild.

Seems that Belo's largest newspaper, The Dallas Morning News, recently shipped 16 pressroom workers to Switzerland for training on a new printing press that was being built there.

Unfortunately, the trade paper noted, management said some workers returned to Texas with an "attitude."

"We did have one or two, as you would expect, that came home and said 'OK, now that I'm trained and I know all of this, I need more money,'" Paul Webb, production vice president, told the trade paper.

But Webb said things turned out fine for Belo in the end: "They no longer work for us."


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