Vol XIV, Issue 2 TNG/CWA Local 31041 March 25, 2003
Contract Talks Stall
Guild Seeks ProJo OK to Disclose Contract Offer
So Members Can Vote done

The Newspaper Guild today asked the Journal to allow the disclosure of the company's latest contract offer, so that members can vote on it and advise Guild negotiators how to respond.

The union and the company met in 12 off-the-record negotiating sessions from Oct. 28 through Feb. 25. The agreement that allowed talks to resume required both sides not to discuss the contents. At this point, the two sides have not met in a month. While the Guild would like to continue negotiating, the company has not indicated when, if ever, it will return to the table.

The Guild leadership believes strongly that the company's latest offer is inadequate for our members as individuals, and bad for the union as a whole. But we would like to find out directly what members think by putting it to a vote that would guide the bargaining team.

We gave our word, however, that we would not reveal the proposals that went across the table, and to the frustration of many members, we have held fast to our promise. Now, the Guild is asking the company to release us from the vow of secrecy.

This morning, letters with the request were hand-delivered to Human Resources Director Tom McDonough, Vice President Mark Ryan and Publisher Howard Sutton. The letters note that "it has become apparent that further progress on the remaining major unsolved issues may not be possible at this time." (A copy is on the reverse.)

Last October, nearly three years after the Guild's last contract expired, the company finally agreed to return to bargaining, raising hopes for an end to this protracted and morale-damaging dispute. The company proposed, and the Guild agreed, that the talks be off-the-record, because that allows both sides to float ideas informally, knowing they can be withdrawn without penalty. We thought this would allow more flexibility in working out an agreement, and we wanted to seize every opportunity for a negotiated settlement.

In December, Sutton raised expectations by telling a gathering of employees that he was "optimistic that we will come to a successful conclusion sometime next year."

But now, three months into the new year, the company has shunned bargaining for weeks, despite the Guild's calls for continuing talks.

The Guild leadership believes it's time for the members to learn what is happening and to speak their minds about it.

Copyright © 2002 The Providence Newspaper Guild
TNG/CWA Local 31041
270 Westmister St., Providence, Rhode Island 02903
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