Vol XIl, Issue 15 TNG/CWA Local 31041 February 19, 2001


Wage hike estimates:
Current Weekly Pay Scale
New Weekly Pay Scale
Weekly Increase
Full-Time Back Pay For 2 Years + 2 Months
Janitor $505.43 $510.59 $5.16 $577.40
State staff office assistant $608.58 $614.79 $6.21 $695.24
Pre-publication specialist $849.49 $858.15 $8.66 $970.46
Reporter / photographer $978.60 $988.58 $9.98 $1,117.95
Advertising sales representative $1001.93 $1,012.15 $10.22 $1,144.60
News section editor $1,072.09 $1,083.03 $10.94 $1,224.76

These are the Guild's estimates of what effect the arbitrator's decision would have on wages, and on retroactive pay for two years. The exact amounts may differ when officially calculated.

* Wage scales must be increased by 1.02%

* Back pay for increase to run from Jan. 1, 1999

* Weekly increases could be between $5 and $10.

* Company doesn't have to pay interest.

The arbitrator in the "me-too" wage increase case has ordered the company to boost wage scales for the Guild bargaining unit by 1.02 percent, and to pay back wages from Jan. 1, 1999.

The Guild calculates that the increase will boost wages roughly between $5 and $10 a week, before taxes and depending on a bargaining unit member's job classification.

"We hope this brings an end to this matter, and that the company will promptly comply with the award,'' said Tim Schick, the Guild administrator.
Arbitrator Gary D. Altman's decision was received by the union in the weekend mail.

It's a follow up to Altman's major award that he issued last July 26, in which he said the Guild had won its main case, that the pay rates that went into effect at the beginning of 1999 were too low.

The ruling that he made now spells out terms of the payout. Here's what he said:
· The 500 members of the bargaining unit are entitled to a 1.02-percent increase of their base wages.
· They are entitled to retroactive payments from Jan. 1, 1999. This includes employees who have left the paper.
· The back pay will be calculated on base benefits such as overtime and night differential.
· Guild 401k contributions are to be increased accordingly. But the company doesn't have to pay for lost investment earnings on the 401k.
· The company does not have to pay interest on the back pay. The Guild had argued that the company has had the use of the money for all of this time. But Altman said he had decided against interest originally, although he hadn't spelled that out in his original award.

The pay raise ordered by the arbitrator has to do with two related contract provisions: a) the "me-too'' clause, which says that the Guild must get pay hikes that other unions receive; and b) the effects of the old Gainsharing bonus program.

Here's what happened:

In 1999, the company boosted pay rates 2 percent above those of the previous year, as called for in the contract.

At the same time, it also paid out a Gainsharing bonus, which did two things: it provided a one-time cash payment to Guild workers; it also added another 1 percentage point to Guild wages, pushing up overall pay scales by 3.02 percent with compounding.

As the company was boosting Guild rates by 3.02 percent, it was also hiking the pay of the non-Guild workers in the same way.

But by that time, the non-Guild workers had switched bonus plans. Instead of Gainsharing bonuses, they now were receiving the Belo Corporation's "Profit Performance Bonus.''

(That's the bonus that Guild members, along with other Journal employees, received last week. The company, which has yet to agree on a new contract, last year imposed the new bonus on the Guild, and ended Gainsharing.)

One of the major differences between the two kinds of bonus plans is that the Belo Profit Performance Bonus pays one-time cash amounts, but does not permanently hike pay scales, as the Gainsharing program does.

So although the non-Guild workers in 1999 got a 2.25-percent Profit Performance Bonus payout, that had no effect on their pay scales. But the company increased their base pay by the same 3.02-percent that it did for the Guild.

The Guild argued - and Arbitrator Altman agreed - that the Guild's me-too clause kicked in at that point, meaning that the Guild should get the general increase of 3.02-percent that everyone else got, PLUS the 1 percentage point boost that came from the Guild-only Gainsharing. In other words, the Guild's total 1999 pay hike should have been, with compounding, 4.0502 percent.

Altman retained jurisdiction, meaning that he is available to resolve any questions about implementation of the award.

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