'YES' FOR A BOYCOTT
By Brian C. Jones
Here's why I believe that the Guild should approve a consumer boycott:
Because the company won't negotiate a fair contract.
For a union, this usually means a strike.
But while a strike remains an option for us, there are aspects of a strike that makes a walkout seem more like management's weapon than a union's.
In strikes such as those in Detroit and Seattle, newspapers keep on publishing by hiring scabs, more politely known as replacement workers.
That means a new problem for a union in ending a strike: getting rid of scabs that have taken members' jobs.
A boycott is an attempt to deal with that. We try to keep our jobs, while still putting pressure on the company.
Will it work?
It should. The newspaper hardly can stand to lose a single reader in these days of declining circulation and ad revenues. A boycott will cost the paper a big fraction of its current readers, including the thousands who already have signed pledge cards promising to support the Guild if we do call a boycott.
This is a serious step, just as serious, I believe, as a strike.
In fact, I think that we should consider it exactly the same as a strike.
None of us wants to see the newspaper hurt.
But for two years of refusing to conclude a fair contract, managers of the paper seem to be saying to the Guild: Okay, what are your going to do about it?
It's a question, frankly, that should never be asked.
Negotiations should proceed on the facts and on fairness, not on which side has more power.
But I believe that for the past two years the company has been out to break the Guild. I don't know why, because the Guild has been, for most of its history, a mild-mannered, hard-working union that has helped make The Journal a Pulitzer-class newspaper that brings in profits that would make most business executives swoon.
We've tried every conceivable step to bring an end to negotiations, starting with a modest agenda of proposals.
We've worked to rule, we've rallied, leafleted, addressed Belo Corp. stockholders. We've tried federal mediation. We've had off-the-record contacts. We've dropped or modified some of our proposals. We've called for a public debate overseen by a respected Brown professor. We've asked members of the Congressional delegation to speak to managers on our behalf.
And each time, the company says to the union:
What are you going to do about it?
Brian Jones is an executive board member active in planning a boycott.
TNG/CWA Local 31041
270 Westmister St., Providence, Rhode Island 02903
401-421-9466 | Fax: 401-421-9495