In a letter faxed
Wednesday, Thomas J. McDonough, the Journal's human resources director,
said that "we see no reason to schedule a further meeting date"
unless the union signals that it will change its position on key issues.
The Guild responded
by stating that it has modified its position several times, in contrast
to the company's bargaining stance, in which it has made only one change
in its proposal during the past year - eliminating its year 2000 wage
"Any difficulty reaching agreement is the result of the company's" illegal moves a year ago to impose an inferior medical plan and other contract changes, and of the company's "refusal to negotiate in good faith and its animus toward the Guild," said Timothy Schick, union administrator.
Schick noted that
the Guild remains ready to negotiate at any time.
The Guild and the Journal last had a bargaining session Feb. 14 - their eighteenth session - during which the union made what it described as "relatively minor" changes in its contract proposal.
Those small modifications
were intended to spark similar changes by the company and hopefully build
momentum in the negotiating process, the union said.
At the end of that
two-hour session, the Guild proposed scheduling another session, and the
company said that it would reply later.
McDonough, in a letter
faxed March 6 (but dated Feb. 6), rejected the Guild's minor proposals,
including putting its contract proposals - which are contained in several
documents and verbal statements - into a single written proposal.
"You asked for
future dates," McDonough continued. "At this point, the Guild
has made no movement for months and months on several key issues."
He said the Guild
has rejected the company's medical insurance coverage, along with its
proposal that it be allowed to switch coverage to "substantially
equivalent plans"; that the Guild refuses to drop key parking language
from the contract and that the Guild has not accepted the company's proposal
for a reopener on retirement plans.
"On each of these major items, and more, the Guild's position has remained unchanged for more than a year. We see no reason to schedule a further meeting date unless and until the Guild provides some reasonable indication that it will move off these positions and break this impasse," McDonough said.
Schick rejected the
company's claim that there is a negotiating impasse or stalemate.
And the union administrator
pointed out that the Guild has changed its negotiating offer several times.
"On Feb. 14 and
previously, the Guild modified its position," Schick said, adding:
"the company has not responded in kind."
only movement between January, 2000 and now has been a regressive move
made against Guild members in retaliation for exercising their rights
guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act," he said.
On Feb. 2 the company
lowered its wage offer by pulling a proposed 3 percent wage hike off the
table for last year. This followed a threat by other company officials,
who complained about the Guild's plans to prepare for a circulation boycott
and the union's filing of unfair labor practice charges.
The Guild took several
steps after the threats were made. One was to file a new unfair labor
practice charge, saying that the threats themselves were made to intimidate
the union from pursing legal steps to protect
The union also outlined
steps the company could take to make a boycott unnecessary, including
retracting the changes it had made in working conditions and by negotiating
in good faith with the Guild.
The exchanges between
the two sides led to the Feb. 14 bargaining session.
Except for reducing
its wage offer last month, the company has made no changes in its contract
proposal since the Guild membership rejected it in a 354 to 28 vote in
early February 2000.
In contrast, the Guild has changed its offer a number of times, including a substantial revision last May 3, when it made a major concession on health coverage by agreeing to the company's proposed formula to have workers pay a straight 15 percent of insurance premiums.
TNG/CWA Local 31041
270 Westmister St., Providence, Rhode Island 02903
401-421-9466 | Fax: 401-421-9495