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|Vol XII, Issue 1
||TNG/CWA Local 31041
||January 5, 2001
WILL RECENT UNFAIR LABOR CHARGES AFFECT NEGOTIATIONS?
is the effect of the unfair labor practices brought last month by the
federal government against the Journal?
for good pay, fair benefits and proper working conditions is a vital,
noble thing. But, let's face it, it's not always a lot of laughs.
why we have The Follies.
your opportunity to poke fun at Rhode Island newsmakers while basking
in the spotlight at the glorious Venus de Milo. It makes me want
to burst into The Venus Song just thinking about it. ("It's Follies
time at the Veeeeeenus de Milo, Veeeeenus de Milo...")
is welcome. Talent is not required. (But if you DO have talent,
please, please join us.)
rehearsal is NOON, SATURDAY, JAN. 6 at People's Baptist Church,
corner of Park and Elmwood in Cranston. Come to the side door on
the Elmwood Street side. For information, call Andy Smith at 7262
or Ellen Liberman at 8061.
The United Way
of Southeastern New England has decided to extend the deadline of
its statewide campaign, and that's good news for the Guild.
means that we have more time to contribute to the first-ever Guild
campaign at the Providence Journal: our appeal was made when many
people were away during the last two weeks of the year.
sets of donor forms already have been distributed, one at home,
the other at the office.
if you need another set, see Felice Freyer in the newsroom, or call
her: 277-7397. And you can always call the Guild office: 421-9466.
year, the Guild membership suggested donating through the union,
rather than through the usual company campaign.
get the forms to either Felice or the United Way by Tuesday, Jan.
first - and one of the most important - consequences is that an impartial,
independent group of outside experts at the Boston office of the National
Labor Relations Board, agreed with the Guild last Dec. 20 that the company
violated labor laws more than 20 times in its dealings with the union.
In short, the government has branded the newspaper a law-breaker when
it comes to labor statutes. While the newspaper tries to hold itself
out to Rhode Island as a respectable company, these charges mean that
some government labor lawyers have decided that it has cheated its workers
and union when it comes to proper bargaining. In basic terms, it's as
serious as being charged as being a polluter or operating a dangerous
Q: What are
some of the charges?
A: Among the most important are that the company improperly
changed the contract last year when it put into effect the worst of its
contract proposals, such as putting new, more costly medical plans
into effect, taking away a paid holiday, stretching out vacation entitlements
and scrapping parking benefits without bargaining with the union properly.
Q: What else?
A: The NLRB said that the company withheld information that
the Guild needed to negotiate with the Journal. Three important sets
of facts are: what were the calculations used in not paying the Guild
gainsharing bonuses; details on medical plans; and financial data that
the union needs to negotiate over the pension and retirement benefits.
Q: Are there more
A: Yes. The NLRB contends that the company tried to intimidate
Guild members from exercising their right to have a union to better
their cause. The government said that what the company transferred then-Unit
Council chairman Brian Jones from a reporting beat in the financial news
department to the general news staff, it was making the kind of hostile
move meant to scare him and other union members. The government also says
the company changed a job description in news and improperly hired outsiders
Q: Can the
government order the company to correct its behavior?
A: Yes. A hearing is scheduled beginning April 2 in Providence
before an administrative law judge, who would in essence conduct a trial,
in which NLRB lawyers will prosecute the charges and the company will
defend against them. There will be testimony from witnesses and filing
of briefs, or legal arguments. The judge then will decide whether to
uphold the charges, and if so, order remedies.
Q: What sort
of punishment might be ordered by the judge?
A: The judge could tell the company to put back the old medical
plans that it jettisoned last year, to restore the holiday, vacation and
parking benefits, and to make sure that union members are paid for any
money they lost. He or she could order the company to turn over pension
and other records requested by the Guild.
Q: When will that
A: Probably not soon. The hearing won't be held for nearly four months;
the hearing could take some time, as will the period the judge will need
to receive briefs and study transcripts then write the decision.
Q: What else could
delay the process?
A: The company could appeal to the five-member NLRB in Washington, which
often assigns such matters to three of its members. That will take time,
and of course, the board could rule against the government and the Guild.
After that, there can be appeals to the federal courts: first to the U.S.
Court of Appeals and secondly to the Supreme Court.
Q: What could shorten
A: The company could stop stalling and settle the contract. A
contract deal would result in the Guild and the government dropping most
of the charges.
Q: Have settlement
talks taken place?
A: Yes. The NLRB, when it got ready to lodge formal charges, approached
the union and the company, to see if the differences could be settled.
The union also asked if the overall contract could be settled. The NLRB
had off-the-record discussions separately with the company and with the
union. Company and union lawyers also met privately. No agreement was
Q: Is there any other
result from the charges?
A: Possibly. If the Guild membership voted to strike on the basis
of the unfair labor practices, the company could be barred from hiring
permanent replacement workers. Thus, union members would be guaranteed
their jobs when a walkout ended. In a purely "economic" strike,
the company is allowed to hire permanent replacements, and strikers must
wait for job openings to return to work.
Q: Is the
Guild contemplating other charges?
A: Yes. The union has filed two more sets of charges, alleging
further examples of law breaking on the company's part. These matters
are under investigation by the Boston officials of the NLRB.
Copyright © 2000 The Providence Newspaper Guild
TNG/CWA Local 31041
270 Westmister St., Providence, Rhode Island 02903
401-421-9466 | Fax: 401-421-9495