TNG tells members
An official of The Newspaper Guild in Washington
yesterday urged Providence Guild members to "stay steadfast"
in their rejection of the company's contract offer, which she said
would undo 40 years of bargaining.
clear that the paper does believe it's going to wear the unit down
and intimidate you into accepting an inferior contract,'' Marian
Needham, the international's director of contract administration,
told a standing-room-only crowd at the Guild's quarterly meeting.
don't think they're going to be successful with that."
no guarantee that any one tactic or combination of tactics will
to the exact contract you want," Needham added.
But accepting the company's current contract offer does guarantee,
she said, that the Guild will be worse off than it is now.
members cave in to the company's "intimidation and stalling,"
she said, "In any future dispute, they'll believe that dilatory
tactics and intimidation will cause you to bend and buckle."
said that the international has been in frequent communication with
the local, assessing the company's actions and advising the Guild
on strategy. The international is also paying the local's legal
fees in this dispute, she said.
Newspaper Guild is very well aware of the situation here and the
unprecedented nature, really, of the attacks on the contract,"
said that the 20 unfair labor practice charges brought against the
company by the National Labor Relations Board are "very encouraging,"
especially because they include "virtually everything we complained
NLRB can be of some help," she said. "Those charges are
In answering for that, there are more
than a dozen issues where there are serious financial consequences
to being found guilty."
NLRB will require the company to "make us whole" by correcting
for its illegal actions, Needham said. In cases of "eggs that
can't be unscrambled'' --changes that can't be undone -- the company
will have to find a way to compensate Guild members.
labor practice charges are "no magic bullet," Needham
said. "It's not a magic wand. It is a very important tool in
bargaining even when you're up against the intransigent type of
management you're finding at the Journal.''
The inauguration of George Bush is unlikely to affect the Guild's
case with the NLRB, she said, because the regional office that is
prosecuting the company does not change personnel under the new
our charges do not push the edges of labor law, but rather deal
with clear matters of long-established law. Unilateral contract
changes have been illegal for a long time, Needham said.
the Guild's planned circulation boycott "might be for right
now one of the best weapons you have at your disposal,'' Needham
said. But she acknowledged that it's a laborious and painful endeavor.
boycotts are really, really difficult,'' she said. "It's not
the kind of thing any of our units have taken on lightly."
Guild members working hard all day to produce a good newspaper hate
to then go home at night and urge readers not to buy it.
is probably the most mellow word to describe that," Needham
But in other
locals, the threat of a boycott has often been enough to get action.
"It seldom comes down to actually having to cancel the subscriptions,"
A Guild member
noted that Journal management was under orders from its owner, the
Belo Corp., to increase circulation "or heads will roll."
where we can really hit them in the pocketbook and not put us in
danger," the member said.
that the Jan. 15 letter from Journal publisher Howard G. Sutton
to all Guild members puts forth the notion that the union is being
led astray by "this band of radicals that got loose in the
to disabuse them of that,'' she said. "Build solidarity, build
unity -- and show it."