Vol XIl, Issue 16 TNG/CWA Local 31041 March 2, 2001


Status report

NEGOTIATIONS: The Guild made several proposals to the company Feb. 14. The company has yet to respond or agree to new meetings.

NLRB CHARGES: A hearing on the company's 30 violations of federal labor law is scheduled to start April 2. (See accompanying article).

PETITION: A Guild member circulated a petition stating that members know what the leadership is doing and support it. This was intended to counter Howard Sutton's suggestion in his letter to Guild members that the leadership is acting without members' support. With 212 signatures, the petition was recently delivered to Sutton.

Web site: For all the latest news and information on Guild activities, as well as details of contract proposals and an archive of Guild Leaders, visit our improved Web site at www.riguild.org.

LISTSERV: Sixty-five people are now members of the Guild's lively on-line discussion group. If you have access to non-company computer, you can join the listserv by e-mailing Tony DePaul at tonydepaul@aol.com. Include your phone number.

All charges to be heard April 2;
case against newspaper deepens

Ten more counts of alleged federal labor law violation have been added to the 20 already issued against the Providence Journal by the National Labor Relations Board, which charges that the newspaper has failed to bargain properly with the Guild.

The new counts are in an amended complaint that was issued by the NLRB Feb. 28 and received by the union yesterday.

These new charges will be prosecuted by the NLRB along with the earlier ones, in the hearing scheduled April 2 in Providence before a federal administrative law judge.

Among the new counts:
· The company last August changed the advertising sales incentive program without bargaining with the Guild, and failed to provide the union information about it.
· Last September, the company abruptly changed its voucher system for reporters' use of taxicabs.
· The company changed its method of reporting the hiring of new workers and irregular extras, again without bargaining.
· And in six instances, it refused to provide the Guild information that it needs to represent its members and to bargain for a new contract. Among the information the company failed to provide is that about digital convergence work, use of temporary workers, leaves of absence, medical plans, parking, and 401k retirement accounts.

The Guild had filed a number of other charges, but has withdrawn them. Some of those charges have been withdrawn on the basis of information that the union received as a result of the unfair labor practice charges; and others may be resubmitted in the future.

The new charges expand the government's case against The Journal and worsen the black mark they represent against the newspaper, further branding it as an alleged law-breaker, in contrast to its attempts to paint itself as a good corporate citizen.

The first round of complaints against the newspaper was issued by the NLRB last Dec. 20.

First Guild United Way campaign draws 63 donors

The United Way reports that 63 Guild members made donations during our first-ever campaign, raising a total of $6,786.

"For a first effort, it was reasonable,'' said Carissa A. Hill, the United Way senior account manager who handled the Guild's campaign. "We definitely could have seen more participation."

The Guild campaign faced some unusual difficulties. We were competing with the company campaign, which started much earlier. Because of delays by United Way, we got off to a late start, launching the campaign during the last two weeks of the year, when many people were away and everyone was preoccupied with the holidays. Additionally, all our members are feeling the pinch of working two years without a raise, and have less to donate.

But it was worthwhile effort. Many donors said they normally do not give to the corporate campaign, but wanted to support the Guild's effort.
We feel confident that we collected a significant amount of money that the United Way would not have otherwise received. If Guild members decide to hold this campaign again, we will expect participation to grow.
Meanwhile, the United Way will continue to accept donations, and anyone who has not yet given should not hesitate to pitch in and improve our numbers.

Be sure to specify that you are participating in the Providence Newspaper Guild campaign. Donations can be sent to Carissa A. Hill, United Way of Southeastern New England, 229 Waterman St., Providence, R.I. 02906-5297.

They said that the Journal improperly imposed new working conditions without bargaining, including a new set of medical plans and worker payments for them; elimination of a paid holiday; and worsened parking provisions.

Also, the Guild had charged, and the NLRB agreed, that the company was trying to discourage participation in the union. And the labor board said that the newspaper withheld information that the union needed to bargain for a new contract.

The new counts are similar.

For example, the union has requested detailed information about retirement plans, contending that it can't bargain about the subject - one of the key topics in the current negotiations - without knowing the effect of current and potential plans could have on its members.

Meanwhile, the company made changes in advertising incentive plans, denying thousands of dollars of incentive payments to individuals who left the company before the semiannual payouts. Incentives are another important issue in this bargaining round. The union would like its members to have a voice in how the program is administered.

Taxi use became an issue when the Guild made that a part of its work-to-rule program. City-based reporters, who aren't required to use their cars, took cabs to assignments. The company retaliated by restricting the use of voucher cabs to Providence-only trips. Reporters taking trips by cab outside of Providence were forced to pay out of their own pocket and seek reimbursement.

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