FEDS ISSUE 11 NEW COUNTS; HEARINGS FEB. 25
BOYCOTT VOTE SET
Approval will allow EB to call boycott in future
Full debate anticipated
Union has collected thousands of boycott pledges
The Guild has scheduled a membership vote Oct. 23 & 24 to authorize a consumer boycott of the Providence Journal.
If approved, the secret ballot referendum would authorize the 11-member executive board to declare a circulation boycott of The Providence Journal at a time of the board's choosing.
Preceding the vote will be several weeks of discussion.
The Guild will arrange meetings of work place groups and news bureaus to talk about the proposal.
And the quarterly membership meeting, Oct. 22, will have discussion of the measure the day before the voting begins.
The Guild has been preparing for a possible boycott as an alternative to a strike for a year.
Union leaders believe a customer boycott of the paper would place heavy economic pressure on the company, but without allowing the paper to attempt to replace workers who had walked off the job.
But the union leadership is recommending this step reluctantly, in an attempt to bring negotiations for a new contract -- underway now almost for two years -- to a fair conclusion.
The company has refused to move off its "final offer,'' which the Guild membership rejected in early 2000, even though the Guild has made substantial concessions in bargaining.
One sign of how poorly the company has behaved in negotiations is that the federal government has issued 47 counts of violation of labor law, including refusal to negotiate with the Guild since last Valentine's Day. (See accompanying story).
Scheduling of the vote by the Executive Committee follows more than a year of preparation by the union, including collection of thousands of pledge cards from subscribers and other customers of the newspaper.
Card signers say they will support a boycott if one is called by the union. Home delivery customers authorize the union to cancel their subscriptions, and others promise not to buy the paper at stores.
During this preliminary phase, the Guild has worked with other unions in the Rhode Island AFL-CIO to distribute and collect pledge cards, believing that members of other unions would most readily understand the issues.
IF THE BOYCOTT IS AUTHORIZED, the Guild will seek support for the move to other elements of the community, such as church, social-justice, fraternal and other groups, while continuing to ask support of the 80,000-member union movement.
Here's how the vote will be conducted:
Secret paper ballots can be cast at the Guild office, 270 Westminster St., Providence from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23. The following day, Wednesday, Oct. 244, votes can be cast from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
In addition, Guild members who know in advance they will not be able to vote in person may request absentee ballots.
One of the company's tactics to hurt the Guild financially has been to stop collecting union dues through payroll deduction. As a result, the Guild has been billing members directly or by credit card.
While most Guild members are paying their dues voluntarily, some are behind in their payments.
The Guild's bylaws require members to have paid dues in full within the past 30 days in order to vote. Dues may be paid in the usual way, and at the door of the union office on the days of the vote.
TNG/CWA Local 31041
270 Westmister St., Providence, Rhode Island 02903
401-421-9466 | Fax: 401-421-9495