GUILD CHALLENGES PROJO TO SHOW
IT'S NOT OUT TO BREAK THE UNION
· Says reduced wage offer widens contract gap and forces
union to continue boycott preparation.
· Calls for continued negotiations; suggests steps that
help settlement and make boycott plans unnecessary.
What is the Guild's view of the letters distributed to workers Feb.
ANSWER: By proposing to eliminate any 2000 wage increase, the
company has widened, rather than narrowed, the gap between the two sides
in negotiations. Preparations for a readers' boycott obviously have
rattled company executives. The union is disappointed that company responded
by making a retrogressive contract proposal.
What is the union's response?
A: After meeting Sunday, Feb. 4, the executive board instructed
Tim Schick, the Guild administrator, to send a letter to Howard Sutton,
Journal publisher, challenging the company's assertions that it is not
out to bust the Guild. The union explained that boycott preparations
have been forced by the company, and that it would not need them if
the company were dealing with the union in good faith.
the same time, the Guild said it is interested in a settlement. It outlined
steps the company could take to show good faith: stop fighting the processing
and arbitration of grievances; provide information the Guild has requested
to help negotiate pension and other issues; roll back the changes the
company made last year in contract working conditions, such as imposing
inferior medical plans; and improve its contract proposal from that
of last January. (The text of the union
letter is here).
Will Guild members lose the 3 percent wage hike that other employees
received last year?
A: Wage increases are the subject of negotiations, and the Guild
remains committed to winning fully retroactive wages. Guild bargaining
unit members worked hard to make the newspaper profitable last year,
and there is no reason for them not to be fairly compensated. Retroactive
(back) pay was the cause of the Guild's 1973 strike, and the company's
threat to withhold it this time is simply another bullying tactic.
Will there be more negotiations?
A: We hope so. Both sides have offered to return to the table, and
Schick is contacting federal mediator Paul Chabot to ask him to arrange
Can the company legally reduce its offer?
A: In this case, we don't believe so. We filed an unfair labor practices
charge with the federal government after the company threatened to reduce
its offer, saying that threat was made because the union had filed previous
labor charges and was making plans for a possible boycott, both of which
are activities protected by the law. We and national Guild officials
are researching the legal issues further.
The letter from Mark Ryan, senior vice president, said "no one
can measure the damage already done in the marketplace by your leaders'
misinformation campaign." What is the union's response?
A: The company is disingenuous to suggest there has been 'damage'
from a boycott that has not begun. It is only in the planning stages
and hasn't even been approved by Guild members. There has been no 'misinformation
campaign.' The Guild since last fall has been working with other labor
unions to distribute pledge cards where people promise not to buy the
paper if the Guild calls a boycott. But the Guild has
made clear there has been no boycott yet. It's possible that Journal
circulation is continuing to fall, and that local managers are hoping
to shift blame from themselves.
Q. Ryan said that the Guild is urging readers to get news from TV
and radio, not the Journal. Is that true?
A. No. The Guild is telling pledge card signers that if there ever
is a boycott, they can still get news. One of the places the Guild is
suggesting they would look is the Journal Website, projo.com,
which we point out is prepared by Guild members and contains stories
from the paper. We also say our own site will have news. And we note
there are other sources, including the Phoenix weekly; National Public
Radio and other broadcast outlets. But nobody is currently being asked
to use alternate media.
If the company is so worried by our boycott preparations, why do we
continue with them?
A. Sadly, the company seems only to respond to economic pressure,
rather than reasonable discussion of issues. We hope a boycott won't
be necessary, but the company's inappropriate step of reducing its offer
just reinforces our belief that we may eventually have to ask union
members to vote whether to authorize one.
What is the "alternative final proposal'' that Tom McDonough, human
resources director, alluded to, that would provide 2 percent yearly
wage hikes if "litigation'' stopped, as opposed to 3 percent if
we continued litigation?
A. The company proposed that lesser wage hike as part of its "final
offer" Jan. 20, 2000. The negotiating committee did not consider
it viable, since it did not believe that Guild members should be forced
to shave 1 percentage point off the 3 percent wage hike that other Journal
workers were receiving, for the "privilege" of dropping valid
grievances and unfair labor practice charges that were filed in response
to the company's violations of the contract and the law.