WHY IS PROJO HOLDING BACK BENEFITS FROM THE GUILD?
QUESTION: I'm perplexed by the company's position about parking and retirement. Parking clauses in our contract couldn't cost that much. Why is the company so adamant that we give them up? If it's willing to offer Belo benefits to non-Guild people, why won't it talk with us about them?
ANSWER: The company's
position on both these issues appears to be part of a pattern. They reflect
the Journal's wish to be free to change our benefits how it wants, when
it wants. And they are also moves in the company's effort to cripple,
if not destroy, the union.
It's true that the
parking clauses in our contract are not burdensome or expensive. The Journal
wants them out primarily to erode our contract-to have fewer and fewer
rules that management has to play by.
There's also another
game going on here. The company suddenly started letting nonunion workers
park for free. Giving nonunion members a benefit that is denied to union
members is a classic union-busting tactic. (In the case of parking, it
also violates our contract.)
What's more, the company asserted, falsely, that the Guild leadership had rejected free parking for its members, hoping Guild leaders would be blamed for the company's actions.
Trying to sow dissent
within the union ranks is another union-busting tactic.
is going on with the 401K. Instead of negotiating about the 401K, the
company has proposed a contract "reopener" under which we would
keep our current benefits for the first two years. Then, the 401K issue
would be revisited.
A reopener weakens
the contract because it means that benefits are assured for a shorter
period of time. This is in keeping with the company's pattern of seeking
the freedom to change our benefits at will and seeking to erode the contract.
The reopener idea also creates some confusion about what exactly was offered, opening up an opportunity for disinformation. As you remember, the company asserted-again, falsely-that the Guild leadership had rejected the Belo pension and 401K even though it had never been offered to us.
Again, an attempt
to sow dissent.
Finally, the company
is providing the Belo 401K to nonunion members but denying it to union
members. Many members strongly believe the Belo 401K is superior. Others
question how good these benefits really are. The Company has illegally
refused to provide the information necessary to analyze the plans. By
treating Guild members as second-class citizens and withholding information,
the company apparently hopes to turn them against their union and each
So far, these tactics
have not fooled most Guild members.
But they do provide strong evidence that our conflict does not result merely from disagreements about particular contract provisions. Rather, this conflict is about the company's desire to kill the union, and the union's desire -- still strong -- to stay alive.
TNG/CWA Local 31041
270 Westmister St., Providence, Rhode Island 02903
401-421-9466 | Fax: 401-421-9495