ASK THE GUILD
WHAT'S THE REAL STORY ABOUT BELO PENSIONS?
The company has never offered the Guild the Belo retirement plans
Only mid-term contract
re-openers have been proposed
QUESTION: Why did the Guild turn down the company's offer of the Belo 401K plan during our previous negotiations? I've heard that's why the company refused to offer it in the current round of negotiations.
ANSWER: The Guild
has NEVER been offered the Belo pension benefit plan. Never.
In the 1996 talks,
the company and the Guild had reached agreement on most of the issues
when we took a break from talks while the company completed negotiations
with the Teamsters. We shook hands, both sides promising that all agreements
reached to that point were settled and that the eventual wage increase
would be retroactive.
During that time-out,
Belo closed on the sale of the Journal. Shortly after, the company's negotiators
started saying that the agreements they shook hands on were not acceptable
to the Belo brass
in Dallas and that some of those points might have to be renegotiated.
The company asked for a reopener (a renegotiation of the contract with
no guarantee of the outcome) in one year on virtually all the benefits
-- medical, pension, holidays, vacations, leaves of absence.
We said we were willing
to negotiate the benefits now, if they could be described to us. The company
said they would not and could not.
Decherd said he didn't
want to micromanage the negotiations -- that those decisions were a Providence-based
matter. Then-publisher Stephen Hamblett chimed in that there would be
This is crucial:
We saw no advantage to giving up benefits that were the result of years of work in exchange for a mystery prize.
Q. What did the company say about the Belo 401K in the most recent negotiations?
A. Essentially the
It offered to reopen
pension and 401k issues in two years, but refused to spell out the benefits
it would offer. This is a major reason why the membership voted down
the company's contract offer, 354 to 28.
In negotiations, the
company steadfastly declined to discuss the Belo plans. It even refused
to provide us with information essential to any decision on what is best
To withhold such information
violates federal labor law-and the Journal's reveal-nothing stance on
the 401K is the basis of one of the 20 charges that the National Labor
Relations Board has filed against the company.
TNG/CWA Local 31041
270 Westmister St., Providence, Rhode Island 02903
401-421-9466 | Fax: 401-421-9495