ASK THE GUILD
QUESTION: The last issues Ask the Guild, detailing the companys ill treatment of the Guild, raised these questions about our next step: What are we doing to move negotiations along? Isnt it time to take drastic action? What about a sickout? A one-day strike? An indefinite strike?
ANSWER: We are doing quite a bit. But first, lets talk about
what were not doing.
Sickouts are illegal. Unlike the company, the Guild is not interested
in illegal actions. Aside from being wrong, such actions put our members
at risk, and we would not be able to defend them against any repercussions.
A strike, on the other hand, is legal, and this tactic has never been
But such a step carries many risks with an uncertain outcome. However,
the company would be barred from hiring permanent replacements because
of its unfair labor practices. We would need the widespread support of
the membership, and a lot more discussion, and a membership vote before
we could proceed.
While always open to discussion, the Guild leadership does not believe this is the right time for a strike.
Instead, we feel we can accomplish more, with fewer risks, if we stay
inside, continue collecting our paychecks (such as they are), and work
on other tactics.
We are right now collecting pledge cards from fellow union members, who
are ready to cancel their Journal subscriptions whenever we say.
Eventually, when we have enough cards and preparations are in place,
we will ask our membership to approve the boycott.
We will hope that this spurs the company to return to negotiations.
If the companys bargaining stance still doesnt change, we
will declare the boycott, and ask the public to join our effort.
The circulation boycott can be a powerful tool. The task of pulling it
together is an enormous, time-consuming and tedious job.
For example, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees,
which represents 10,000 people in Rhode Island, is sending a letter, signed
by its president asking its members to sign boycott pledge cards.
This is not what the company expected.
The company thought wed do one of two things: quietly fade away,
or angrily do something rash (such as a sickout or poorly planned strike)
that would enable them to crush us quickly.
They didnt foresee this tireless effort, this solidarity, this
Patience. Hard as it is, thats what its going to take. We wont win our battle in some dramatic conflagration. We wont win it soon. But we will win itinch by relentless inch.
Do you have questions
about negotiations and other Guild activities? We will do our best to
answer them in upcoming Guild Leaders. You also can always ask any member
of the Executive Board.
And the union has
created a great Internet discussion forum, or listserv in
which members debate issues via e-mail that can be read by all participants.
To sign up, e-mail email@example.com. (You must have a home computer).
TNG/CWA Local 31041
270 Westmister St., Providence, Rhode Island 02903
401-421-9466 | Fax: 401-421-9495