Guild mourns 'Jag'
Memorial fund established to help late reporter's widow
set for June
Speaking at the Belo Corp.'s annual meeting in Dallas yesterday, Guild Executive Committee member Kerry Kohring told Belo chairman Robert Decherd that Journal executives had violated the company's own ethics code when they broke federal labor laws in their dealings with the Guild.
Kohring called on Decherd to describe what action he plans to take in response, but Decherd did not reply to that question.
The newly issued code explicitly requires directors, officers and employees to obey the law, under penalty of firing. The Journal has been convicted of 27 violations of the National Labor Relations Act.
In breaking the law, Kohring told Decherd and other Belo stockholders, Journal executives "are therefore also in violation of the Belo Corporation's Code of Business Conduct and Ethics and subject to its stated disciplinary action, including possible 'termination of employment or other relationship with Belo' and/or 'removal as a director or officer.'
"Will you please detail for us what actions you and the Management Committee will take to enforce the Belo code of conduct in this case?"
Kohring noted that the Journal's failure to comply with the company's code of conduct endangers Belo's integrity and the value of its stock.
In a phone interview afterward, Kohring said that Decherd did not address his question. Instead, Decherd said that he regrets that the Guild and the company have not reached a contract agreement but that the annual meeting is not the appropriate place to discuss labor relations.
Decherd pointed out that Belo has contracts with the Teamsters and the Pressmen at the Journal and with other unions at other companies. He acknowledged the National Labor Relations Board charges, but stressed that some had been dismissed. Decherd also implied that the Guild was using unfair-labor-practice charges as a substitute for bargaining.
(In reality, the Guild has spent more than three years seeking a negotiated settlement. After careful review of Guild complaints, the National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency, brought charges against the Journal for numerous violations of labor law -- some quite blatant -- in its dealings with the Guild. The board won convictions on virtually all the most important issues.)
This was Kohring's third trip to Dallas to address stockholders at the Belo annual meeting and to implore Decherd to end the Journal's self-destructive war on its employees.
Before the meeting, Kohring ran into Journal publisher Howard G. Sutton. Sutton said that he, too, would like a contract settlement. He said he wanted the company's latest offer to come before the members for a vote to "let democracy take its course."
"If it's defeated," Sutton told Kohring, "that will send a message."
TNG/CWA Local 31041
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