Company refuses to talk
The Journal has informed the Guild that it will not meet to bargain for a new contract, alleging that "impasse" was reached on June 2 and calling its June 2 offer "final."
During negotiations, the company had never referred to its most recent offer as a "final offer."
The Guild strongly disputes the company's assertion that the two sides had reached impasse, which under the law occurs only when full and complete good-faith bargaining has failed to produce a meeting of the minds.
The company did not engage in good faith bargaining over the main issues that divide us. They merely put their proposals on the table and would not discuss them further when the Guild sought compromise.
Additionally, the company is declaring impasse over an issue that, under the law, cannot be subject to impasse: The provision that the contract would be contingent on the National Labor Relations Board dismissing company's unfair-labor-practice convictions. Thus the Guild believes company's declaration of impasse is plainly illegal.
The Guild expects the company to have difficulty proving that impasse occurred because management had insisted that negotiations be held off the record. Therefore, there is no record of what transpired to back up the company's assertion. (In disputes over whether impasse has occurred, the burden of proof is on the side that declares impasse.)
The company's letter (a copy is on the reverse) refers to three issues that it says the Guild wants to negotiate: retroactive wages, the 1.5 percent raises for 2004 and 2005, and the NLRB issue. Guild Administrator Tim Schick told the federal mediator these issues were among those that Guild wanted to change. Nor was the Guild setting any preconditions for further negotiations.
The Guild leadership is not surprised by the company's response, nor deeply worried about it. We expected the company to punish us for the "no" vote, and to try to make us sweat. (Our brows remain dry.)
The Executive Committee on Monday will discuss seeking unfair-labor-practice charges against the Journal for its impasse declaration, its refusal to bargain and its conduct in the days before the contract vote. Additionally, a mobilization committee will be convened to plan actions to pressure the company to return to the bargaining table.
Meanwhile, about 150 people have returned the Guild's survey identifying members' priorities in the contract. We consider this an excellent response, but want to hear from as many people as possible. If you haven't returned your survey, your opinion can still be counted if you bring the survey form to the Guild office at 270 Westminster St. today (Friday). The survey was mailed to all Guild members, regardless of whether they are up-to-date on their dues. The results will be tabulated and publicized soon.