Vol XI, No. 75 TNG/CWA Local 31041 Dec. 13, 2000


HEARTY LAUGH: Mayor Vincent A. Cianci Jr. studies Guild leaflet before skipping `Gold Heart’ lunch for Journal Publisher Howard G. Sutton.
Don’t call it a heart bypass.

Make it a Howard Bypass.

Mayor Vincent A. Cianci Jr. of Providence yesterday passed up his scheduled appearance before a luncheon of the American Heart Association, where Providence Journal Publisher Howard G. Sutton was to be honored with a Gold Heart Award.

Cianci turned away from the Westin Hotel when he encountered a Providence Newspaper Guild rally protesting the award of a nice-sounding honor to Sutton, a member of a heartless management team that has set out to crush the union.

The Guild protesters, braving gales, lined the sidewalks in front of the state-owned hotel. They carried signs that said "Stop exporting our profits to Texas," a reference to the Belo Corp., new owner of the paper, and they handed out green leaflets to attendees and passersby.

Among the demonstrators was The Tin Man – the character from the Wizard of Oz who needed a heart – played by Guild executive board member and Journal copy editor Kerry Kohring.

To be frank, The Tin Man was somewhat bedraggled: His rented costume lacked suitable pants, so he wrapped his legs in aluminum foil, which the fierce winds tore to shreds. All of which was appropriate for a union whose last raise was Jan. 1, 1999.

But, Toto, we digress.

Sometime after noon – so he could make his traditionally tardy entrance at the Heart Association luncheon – Mayor Cianci drove up in his sleek black city car, but ordered it parked just outside the hotel entrance. He then bounded from the rear seat to chat with the demonstrators at curbside.

Is this a picket line that he couldn’t cross? Cianci inquired.

He was told, no, just a robust protest.

Cianci was handed a lyric sheet especially tailored for the protest. It read, in part:

My name is Howard Sutton
I’d wear a union button
Wouldn’t I look smart?
I’d give my workers raises
Pay for parking, sing their praises
If I only had a heart

Cianci then told an aide to relay a message to those inside – he had been scheduled to offer greetings and a proclamation – that he now had some other place to be, and he sped off in the black car, to the applause of the demonstrators.

The demonstration continued until 1 p.m.

Passing truckers tooted their horns and trolley bus drivers clanged their bells, and Guild members and some supporters from the labor community, including Jobs with Justice and Rhode Island Committee Occupational Safety and Health, toted signs and let loose with an occasional chant.

The Man With the Gold Heart was not spotted by the demonstrators. They were prepared to hand him a leaflet – the color of money – musing about the symbolism of a heart award being bestowed upon a representative of a company that has shown little of the same during the 13 months.

'TIN MAN' Kerry Kohring, above; Guild members protest outside the Westin Hotel, left.


The Guild has lost an arbitration in which the union contended that the company shortchanged a copy editor vacation time.

It was a rare loss this year for the Guild, which has won most of its key legal battles, including an arbitration that the company has tried to evade, which grants the union a 1-percent pay raise.

This case involved a copy editor who worked as an irregular extra in 1988 through 1992, then was dropped from the payroll. He was rehired in 1995 as an IE, then made a regular part-time worker in 1998 and a full-time employee in 1999.

In calculating his vacation, the company credited him for time worked from 1995, but didn’t count his previous service. That meant he was granted two weeks vacation, instead of three that the Guild believes he was owed.

The Guild argued that the contract says that "all hours worked as an irregular extra" shall be credited to benefits; the company said another portion of the contract limited the vacation calculation to hours worked in "continuous employment."

Arbitrator Roberta Golick agreed with the company.

It might be noted that this copy editor not only lost entitlement to three weeks vacation under the company’s previous ruling; he lost again when the company last year imposed new vacation language, stretching out time it takes to be entitled to a third week of vacation to five years of service, instead of the current three.

The Guild has filed an unfair labor practices charge on that latest change.

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