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GUILD LEADER

Vol XIl, Issue 23 TNG/CWA Local 31041 April 19, 2001

GUILD ASKS COURT TO MAKE JOURNAL PAY "ME-TOO" RAISE

Guild leadership team set
for a new one-year term


Bob Jagolinzer will serve his fourth term as Guild president as a result of nominations for the union's leadership posts made yesterday at the quarterly membership meeting.

Jagolinzer, a reporter in the Journal's Northwest bureau, was secretary of the union from 1990 to 1998, and has been president since then. He came to the newspaper in 1969.

The number of nominations matched the available posts, meaning there are no uncontested seats, and therefore, no need for an election.

All incumbents agreed to run, and Guild leaders had recruited candidates for vacancies on the Executive Board and the Unit Council.

New to the executive board will be Paul Davis, a reporter in the South County news bureau. Davis also has been a financial news reporter.

The other incumbent officers are: Jeff Andrade, vice president; John Hill, secretary; and Greg Smith, treasurer.

Incumbents on the Executive Board: Tom Bunn, Kerry Kohring, Felice Freyer, Karen Senerchia, Del St. Jean and Brian Jones.

Fresh faces on the Unit Council -- an elected seven-member panel that works on grievances and other company-management issues -- include: Ed Fitzpatrick, State House reporter, and Linda Cox, West Bay news bureau copy editor.

Incumbents on the unit council: Sheila Lennon, Susan Quackenbush, Mark Arsenault, Richard Dujardin, and Lisa Helwig.

Paper's refusal to comply with arbitrator's decision forces Guild to seek U.S. Court order.
Case, filed more than two years ago, would add 1.02 percent to workers' current wages.

After waiting two months for the company to implement the "me-too" wage boost won by the Guild in arbitration, the union this week filed a federal lawsuit to force the newspaper to pay out the award.

Journal becoming a 'contractual scofflaw'

An arbitrator last year awarded the Guild a 1.02 percent boost in current rates - retroactive to January, 1999 - and two months ago, the arbitrator detailed terms of the payout.

But the company has refused to make the payments, prompting the Guild to file suit in U.S. District Court, Providence, that asks a judge to order the wage hike.
Although the company is compelled under binding arbitration to obey an arbitrator's decision, only the courts - not the arbitrator - can enforce the award.

The Guild sees this as the same kind of behavior that has marked the company's approach to negotiations for a new contract and has resulted in it being charged with 30 violations of federal labor law.

"It's unfortunate that the company's intransigence has forced us to have to go to court to obtain what is rightfully ours," said Tim Schick, the Guild's administrator.
"The company's failure to abide by their contractual agreement," said Schick, "is another indication that they are, at best, becoming contractual scofflaws."

The wage increase case dates back to Feb. 22, 1999, when the Guild first filed a grievance, meaning that the issue is now more than two years old.

Having to go to court simply drags out the matter - at a price to the bargaining unit's 500 men and women, who have gone without any pay hike since Jan. 1, 1999, because of the drawn-out negotiations for a new contract.

The Guild estimates that the raise will put an extra $5 to $10 into workers' pockets (before taxes) every week, depending on their current pay grade.
In February, the Guild calculated that, as of that time, the back pay ordered by the arbitrator would result in lump sum payments of between $500 and $1,200.

The origins of the case are these:
· The Guild's contract provided a 2 percent raise in 1999 over the previous year's wages.
· The contract also said the Guild would get pay raises equivalent to those of other unions, namely the Pressmen and the Teamsters. This is the so-called "me-too" clause of the contract.
· Finally, under the Guild's the Gainsharing bonus program, bargaining unit members were entitled an extra 1 percentage point tacked onto pay rates if the newspaper's financial performance hit targets set by the
company.

As it turned out, Gainsharing was paid that year, and the company set Guild pay rates at 3.02 percent (the extra .02 comes from compounding).
But at the same time, the other unions got 3.02 percent raises, too. But those other unions weren't covered by Gainsharing, having switched to another kind of bonus program.

The Guild argued that the Guild bargaining unit should have received the 3.02 percent the other unions received PLUS another 1.02 percent, representing its required Gainsharing boost.

July 26, 2000, arbitrator Gary D. Altman of Brookline, Mass., sided with the Guild, ruling the Guild was due the full raise, and that "the amount of money under the Gainsharing program must be 'in addition' to this general pay increase."

This seemed straightforward enough. But the company stretched things out again by refusing to agree how the money should be paid out - and it actually sought to hold more hearings.

But the arbitrator called instead for written legal arguments, and on Feb. 15, 2001, he agreed with the Guild that its total wage boost for 1999 should have been 4.0502 percent.

A Letter from Ellen Liberman

Dear Fellow Guild Members:

When Guild President Robert Jagolinzer asked me to run for the Executive Board, I thought, 'Great, another pain in my keister.' But my Guild involvement turned out to be the most satisfying aspect of my tenure at the Providence Journal.

Around the fake wood tabletop in that drab office, I got to know intelligent, compassionate colleagues whose work ethic and dedication I came to admire. Though my life as a state staff reporter became unbearably dull as the years went on, I took comfort in my Guild service. I was trying to make the workplace better for the 500 employees I helped to represent.

It was in the Guild that I was given the opportunity to learn institutional dynamics and to exercise leadership skills. In my interview for the Editor's position for WRNI's One Union Station, I cited my union work on the board and in the Follies as management experience.

In nearly three years as an Executive Board member, I've heard my share of criticisms and complaints. Some were well-founded and deserved. Others stem from an honest difference of opinion. But a good deal of it is born out of ignorance. And that's too bad. Tim Schick, the Executive Board, the Unit Council and a handful of activists, work very hard to protect the quality of life and the quality of work that our contracts have brought us. They are more knowledgeable and reasoned than many of you know.

So, consider taking back some control from a corporation indifferent to anything but its stock price. Get active in the Guild. I used to be one of the complainers. 'Why don't those people do something?' I would grouse. Well, they are doing lots of things. But they can't do it alone. Our buttons may be a garish color and the slogan trite, but it's true: We are the union.

Best of luck to all of you,
Ellen Liberman


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