Vol XIII, Issue 14 TNG/CWA Local 31041 May 24, 2002

Delay Avoided:

ProJo Agrees to Separate Trial
on New NLRB Charges

The federal government's first wave of unfair labor charges -- including ones over the illegal taking of personal days, vacation, dental and medical coverage -- against the Providence Journal Co. are on track for a decision by the end of summer or early fall, after the company backed off its insistence that all charges against it be considered in a single trial.

Journal charged with new violations of law

The NLRB has issued a new complaint on 10 counts of unfair labor practices. A complaint is equivalent to an indictment.

Included in the new counts are charges of:

-- Regressive bargaining in the withdrawal of the proposed 2002 wage increase.

-- Discrimination against Karen Ziner for union activity and for participating in previous unfair labor practice charges.

-- Transferring employees against their will from the advertising to the news bargaining units.

-- Changing the medical leave procedure, resulting in the discharge of Andy McKnight and Michael Monti.

-- Refusing to negotiate an accommodation for Andy McKnight's medical disability.

-- Refusing to provide the Guild with information related to discrepancies in 401k accounts.

The NLRB is also wrapping up the investigation of additional changes. If the board determines there is sufficient evidence, those charges will be included in the October 21 trial.

Meanwhile, the National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint against the Journal on 10 new counts of labor law violations. A trial on the new charges has been set for October 21.

The Guild has been notified by the National Labor Relations Board that the company has dropped its insistence that new charges be included as part of the original trial. Such a move would have required the reopening of the trial, which concluded in March.

That means both sides will submit their briefs in the case of the first 44 violations next month and a decision could be issued in September or October.

The initial complaint is primarily concerned with what the NLRB has found was the company's illegal and selective declaration of an impasse in February 2000. Claming negotiations were at a standstill, the company imposed inferior health insurance plans, taking back of a personal day and reduction of vacation time for people who have worked for the Journal for three to five years.

The decision to impose the plans was made before Guild negotiators had even seen the company's offer. As Guild bargainers headed to the meeting on the offer, they passed Human Resources workers who were stuffing the plan descriptions in envelopes that were going out to union members in that day's mail.

After testimony in the first trial ended in February, the company refused to waive its so-called "Jefferson Chemical" rights, named after a NLRB case in which a company is allowed to ask that all charges be considered in one trial.

The Guild had objected to that, pointing out that the delay in effect rewarded the company for repeatedly violating the law, because as long as there was another complaint to be heard, the first ones would never be judged.

Guild officials here and in Washington D. C., had been preparing a legal challenge to that tactic, pointing out that it in effect created a legal perpetual motion machine. It also contradicted the intent of the law, since the only way the Guild could get its rights protected by the NLRB was to stop trying to get them protected.

Notice of Annual Membership Meeting

Wednesday, June 12, 2002 at noon Guild office, 270 Westminster St. 2nd Floor, Providence, RI

Nominations to Fill 1 Vacant Executive Committee Seat: Nominations may also be made in advance of the meeting by petitions signed by at least six members in good standing. In the event of multiple nominations, an election will be scheduled.

Scholarship Drawing: Winners of the 2002 Guild scholarship will be selected.

Contract Bargaining Update: Executive Committee members will review the status of negotiations and pending unfair labor practice charges.

Discount Tickets to Six Flags Available

Grim contract times demand, what?

A trip to an amusement park.

The Guild is offering discount tickets to Six Flags, the amusement park outside of Springfield, Mass. that used to be known as Riverside. Tickets to Six Flags may be purchased for $22 on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Guild office. (That's a savings of $17.99 off the regular admission price of $39.99 for adults. The normal children's rate is $24.99.)

The park is about an hour-and-a-half drive from Providence. You must be a member is good standing to purchase the discount tickets.

Copyright © 2002 The Providence Newspaper Guild
TNG/CWA Local 31041
270 Westmister St., Providence, Rhode Island 02903
401-421-9466 | Fax: 401-421-9495