Vol XIl, Issue 32 TNG/CWA Local 31041 June 20, 2001


Protest the company's illegal tactics
and unfair treatment of 500 Guild workers.
In front of the Journal
75 Fountain St., Providence

June 21 session
The Guild's bargaining team will meet with the company Thursday, June 21, to discuss two issues that have come up within the past month.

Scheduled for discussion:

  • The union's complaint that the company has withdrawn security guards from regular duty in the lobby of the Journal Building.
  • A complaint by the Guild that the company modified the Chips Quinn scholars program without negotiating changes by initially employing four news interns, rather than three as specified in the contract.

The union contends both matters are subjects of formal negotiations under federal law; the company disagrees.

Nonetheless, the two sides have agreed to talk in an attempt to reach agreement on the two matters, without giving up their legal positions.

Thus, the Guild reserves its right to pursue unfair labor practices charges that it filed with the National Labor Relations Board June 5.

The Guild previously had written to the company about its concern about the recent lack of security guards in the lobby -- an apparent economy move by the company.

The union believes the removal of a guard makes it too easy for a troublemaker to enter the downtown building, or worse, for an unbalanced person with a grudge against the paper to get into the building.

The Guild's protest about adding an additional intern without reaching formal agreement with the Guild is improper. Two of the interns have since left the company, but the union is concerned about the company's attempt to unilaterally place more than the agreed-upon number.

The meeting will mark the first discussions, with the exception of grievance sessions, between the company and the union since Feb. 14, which was the last contract negotiation.

Be well-prepared;
then don't hold back,
Seattle strike vet
tells Providence Guild

You can't be too prepared.
That was the lesson Naomi Ishisaka of the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild -- the union that struck the Seattle newspapers for more than six weeks this past year -- had for members of the Providence Guild.

When the Pacific Northwest Guild set out to organize its strike, a massive coordinated effort of the entire membership, it used mobilization strategies from the Communications Workers of America, plus some home-grown approaches, Ishisaka told members at the June 14 membership meeting.

A copy editor at The Seattle Times, Ishisaka is one of the strikers who weren't immediately rehired when the strike ended Jan. 9.

With her name on a call-back list -- which still includes around 50 of the 1,000 strikers -- Ishisaka got a job as editor-in-chief of ColorsNW Magazine. That led the Seattle Times to fire her

for working for "competing media." The Guild is fighting the company's action.

Before and during the strike, the Pacific Guild adopted a CWA mobilization strategy - one that is used for all negotiation efforts, not just strikes - that calls for a coordinator for every eight to ten workers.

Ishisaka said the local Guild also worked on organizing members around issues they cared about. The Guild set up committees on issues like sick leave or retirements and recruited members to become resident experts on them.

"Hundreds of people were involved," she said. "We bred a bunch of little activists throughout the union."

The big push for the strike at The Times and The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which are run by joint operating agreement, was from the circulation and advertising departments, she said. While newsroom salaries were pretty good, Ishisaka said advertising workers had seen their pay depend more and more in incentive bonuses at the expense of a base salary they could count on year to year.

In 1999, a new slate of officers was elected that reflected that bitterness. Newsroom workers were the most uncomfortable with the strike, she said. Management kept playing on the specter of the Detroit strike and fed rumors that it wanted the strike either as a pretext to fire everyone or to sell the papers.

Support from the Seattle area community was terrific, she said. The CWA came through with financial support for members and local organizations helped members find low-cost or free food. Still, she said more should have been done to prepare members for the financial burdens of striking.

The Guild also should have done more to prepare a broader strategy, she said. The strike was seen as the major weapon. It wasn't until after the members walked that they began seriously considering a circulation boycott and demonstrations outside major advertisers' places of business.

Even during the strike, initial support was not unanimous for a subscriber boycott, she said. Some members were concerned it would hurt the long-term financial health of the Seattle newspapers. Ishisaka said this puzzled boycott supporters. They said: " 'Duh. Are you guys nuts? You're on strike.' "

Wear something black on Thursdays to show your concern about the company's refusal to negotiate
a fair contract.

Things didn't really change in the talks until the union began putting union members outside advertisers businesses, handing out leaflets about the strike. In hindsight, she said they should have done that sooner.

"Use all the leverage you can," she said. "Everywhere you can get it."

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