Vol XIl, Issue 50 TNG/CWA Local 31041 Nov. 2, 2001

Guild photos/Kerry Kohring         (Click to enlarge)
Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), rallies workers at Oct. 20 rally. Lower right, Boston Guild members.



A negotiating session between the Guild and the company has been scheduled for Nov. 14

This will be the first time the parties have met specifically on the contract since Valentines Day, Feb. 14.

There have been some meetings between the two parties since then, but they have been about issues not specifically linked to the contract negotiations.

The meeting, on a Wednesday afternoon, at 2, will be the 19th session since negotiations between the union and the company began Oct. 28, 1999.

It came about following an exchange of letters.

The first was from the Guild, in which the union urged a conclusion to the 2-year-long bargaining,

especially in light of the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks, which the Guild said showed the fruitlessness of protracted disputes.

That letter was addressed to Robert Decherd, Belo Corp. chairman, with a copy to Howard Sutton, Journal publisher, and acknowledged Decherd's call for a unified response throughout the company to the economic downturn and the terror crisis.

The Guild letter was answered by Thomas J. McDonough, Journal human resources director, and while it seemed to acknowledge the Guild's letter, it did not directly respond to the issues raised by the Guild, but rather cited the long pause between talks.

"We agree with the Guild's recent statement that the parties should return to the bargaining table in light of the passage of time that has occurred in these negotiations,'' McDonough said.

The other subject raised in the letter was the company's withdrawal of its year 2002 wage proposal, stating that "economic circumstances have changed negatively," with an affect on advertising revenue.

McDonough noted that the company would contact federal mediator Paul Chabot to arrange a meeting.

It is the Guild's hope that this new session will lead to a resolution of the dispute.

Tim Schick, Guild administrator, said that in modifying its contract proposal, the company is required by federal law to offer to discuss the change.

This is what happened the last time the company pulled back on its wage proposal, dropping its year 2000 pay offer. The company offered to meet. But there was no substantive progress that came from the session.

Guild members from as far away as Manchester, N.H. and Boston joined the Providence Newspaper Guild and other Rhode Island unions Oct. 20 in a spirited weekend rally to protest the illegal conduct of negotiations by The Providence Journal.

The demonstration was marked by singing of labor songs, as well fiery speeches from the state's political and labor leaders.

About 200 people participated in the 2-hour protest, which was held in front of The Journal building.

The event drew media coverage from television station WLNE, Channel 6,which aired reports during its evening newscasts Saturday radio stations including WPRO, and The Providence Phoenix.

For the first time in months, The Journal took note of the story at its own front door, although the short story skipped the deeper issues that underlie the 2-year-old dispute between the Guild and the company.

The newspaper's brush-off, no fault of the assigned reporter, was typical of its censorship of the dispute and other unflattering aspects of its business affairs.

U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy urged unity in challenging the Journal's law-breaking tactics, which have drawn 47 unfair labor practice charges from the National Labor Relations Board.

Other speakers included Frank J. Montanaro, R.I.

AFL-CIO president, who said that "We'll stand behind this union until the day we see victory." Montanaro was joined by another AFL-CIO official, George H. Nee, secretary-treasurer.

Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty attended, and Secretary of State Edward S. Inman III sent word that he is distressed that top staffers have left the paper because of the dispute.

Not everyone was content to speak. Kate Coyne-McCoy, director of the Rhode Island chapter of the National Alliance of Social Workers, and a candidate for Congress last year, belted out "Step by Step," an old labor song. Other labor tunes were contributed by George Mann, a New York labor organizer and singer.

Scott Molloy, the bus-driver-turned-URI-professor, climbed up on the truck bed that served as a podium, and "lectured" the Journal Co. and it's Belo parent corporation on their errant treatment of the Guild.

Molloy noted that the nation is under attack not only by terrorists, but by economic mischief-makers who are trying to reverse decades of progress by working folks.

"Now, merely because you've got new corporate masters who speak with a Southern drawl, it's undermining us in a similar way," Molloy said.

Delegations of Guild members from Manchester, N.H., and the Boston local attended. Labor figures included Bob Jordan, president of the Boston Guild, Barry Lipton, president of the New York Guild; Bernie Lunzer, secretary-treasurer of The Newspaper Guild/Communications Workers of America, Leslie Philips, a TNG vice president.

One theme of the rally was the Journal Company's illegal behavior during negotiations, as cited in the NLRB's 47 unfair labor practice charges, which the board will prosecute in at a federal hearing in February.

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