Vol XIl, Issue 2 TNG/CWA Local 31041 January 9, 2001


Yes, there is such a thing -- if you're a Guild member.

Every weekday, noon to 1 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 9 through Tuesday, Jan. 16, you are invited to come to the Guild office (270 Westminster St.) to eat and chat with members of the Guild leadership.

No one will ask you to stuff envelopes or staple papers. The purpose is solely to provide EVERY Guild member an opportunity to ask questions and offer suggestions in an informal, nonthreatening setting.

Find out what it will take to get a decent contract.

Find out why Guild leaders are feeling more optimistic than they have in months.

Ask questions about where we've been and where we're headed. Tell us what else YOU think we should do.

Become informed in time for the Jan. 17 membership meeting (at which there will be yet another free lunch).


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.
That week, Robert Decherd, the Belo chairman, held an open meeting in the downtown newsroom. During that session, Frank Santafede, then the Guild president, told him that company negotiators were saying they had problems with parts of the tentative agreement. Santafede asked him what those differences were.

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 no problem.
At the next negotiating session, the company stopped trying to pull out of the handshake deal. Instead, negotiators told us that we could go for the current benefits, or the reopener. We picked the current benefits.

This is crucial:
They NEVER offered us the Belo 401K. They said only that they would offer some kind of undefined "change."

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?

Guild Briefs

Membership Meeting: The quarterly membership meeting will be noon, January 17 at the Guild office -- 270 Westminster St. in downtown Providence. Guild members will nominate convention delegates and will be briefed on the status of negotiations and the NLRB charges. Your dues must have been paid in full within the previous 30 days for you to attend the meeting. Dues can be paid at the door.

Scholarships: Applications for two union scholarship programs are available at the Guild office. The Union Plus Credit Card Scholarship has a January 31 application deadline. The CWA's Beirne Scholarship has a March 31 deadline. (Applications for PNG's own scholarship will be distributed in May). Your dues must be paid to receive an application form.

A. Essentially the same thing.

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.
The Guild has proposed that its members be offered a choice either of the current Belo retirement benefits, or the old Journal plans, depending on which would pay more in individual circumstances.

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 forour members.

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.

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