Vol XI, No. 76 TNG/CWA Local 31041 Dec. 15, 2000


It's almost that time of year again – and we're not talking about the holidays.

Another festive event, the Guild's annual Follies, is getting underway, with rehearsals beginning Jan. 7. The Follies has always been a superb showcase for the twisted talents and hard work of Guild members.

I'm the director this year, and I'd like to urge as many Guild people as possible to take part. The Follies is an inclusive operation, and we continue to welcome anyone who wants to participate. But if it is to stay a Guild production, then it needs Guild people. And unlike, say, picketing Howard Sutton in the slush, the Follies is a tremendous amount of fun. (As usual, the kindly politicians of Rhode Island have made our job oh-so-easy.) Talent is always welcome, but not required.

So if you're a Follies veteran in retirement, this would be a great year to re-live the glory. If you've never been in the Follies, remember what I said about the fun.

For information, contact me, 7262; Ellen Liberman, 8061; or the Guild Office, 421-9466.



‘What’s our
next step?’

QUESTION: The last issue’s “Ask the Guild,” detailing the company’s ill treatment of the Guild, raised these questions about our next step: What are we doing to move negotiations along? Isn’t 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, let’s talk about what we’re 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 ruled out.

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 having considerable success in preparing for a circulation boycott. When plans are complete, we will call a membership meeting to see if the union wants to take that step.

Taxi Story Continues For Reporters Not Using Cars

City staffers who don’t get car allowances are continuing to refuse to use their cars for work, taking cabs or Car One instead.

And this work-to-rule effort is continuing to irk the company.

Apparently worried about the increased costs this change has brought, the company has lurched about looking for ways to cope.

First, it refused to pay for taxi rides outside Providence. Then, the company stopped paying tips to the cabbies (talk about cheap!). Most recently, it instructed East Side Taxi not to wait for reporters on assignment; instead, the reporter has to call the taxi anew after completing the assignment and wait for it to return. (This has pushed some people into overtime, which generally costs more than having a taxi wait—but hey, who ever said logic was operative here?)

Interestingly, these changes were communicated only to the taxi company with which the Journal has a contract, not the workers themselves. One city staffer, however, was told by a member of management that there is no requirement to use East Side Taxi. This reporter was told he could take any taxi he wished, pay out of pocket (only East Side has vouchers), and submit his receipt for reimbursement. He did this successfully. And he even got to tip the driver.

Most people have found the taxis to be convenient and punctual.

Here are the basic guidelines:

1. Take a cab to any assignment in Providence. Take a company cell phone so you can call the cab when you’re done.

2. For assignments outside Providence, take Car One.

3. If Car One is not available, ask your supervisor how he or she would like you to get to your assignment. Don’t feel bad. It is not your problem; it is management’s responsibility to get you where you need to go.

4. If transportation issues prolong your day, be sure to put in for overtime, even it’s just for 15 minutes.

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 company’s bargaining stance still doesn’t 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 we’d 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 didn’t foresee this tireless effort, this solidarity, this patience.

Patience. Hard as it is, that’s what it’s going to take. We won’t win our battle in some dramatic conflagration. We won’t win it soon. But we will win it—inch 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 tonydepaul@aol.com. (You must have a home computer).

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