Vol XIV, Issue 14 TNG/CWA Local 31041 July 3, 2003
Member Survey:
Retro pay, NLRB issue top priorities

Guild presidential election results:
John Hill 102
Kerry Kohring 80
Guild files
9 new
NLRB charges

The Guild yesterday filed nine unfair-labor-practice charges against the Journal.

The charges pertain to managers' conduct before the recent contract vote, the company's response to the Guild's request to resume bargaining, and the company's treatment of Babette Augustin with regard to her parking fees.

The Executive Committee has scheduled a rally for Wednesday, July 9, at 12:15 p.m. on Fountain Street to protest the company's continuing law-breaking.

In filing the charges, the Guild is asking the National Labor Relations Board to prosecute the Journal for what the Guild sees as violations of federal labor law.

The NLRB lawyers in the regional office in Boston will review the evidence and decide whether it justifies taking the Journal before an administrative law judge. They have also had great success in their prosecution of the Journal, so far winning convictions on 27 unfair-labor-practice charges.

The company has appealed those 27 convictions to the full NLRB in Washington, D.C., which is expected to act within the next year.

Here's a summary of the new charges:

The company's campaign for a 'yes' vote: Three charges allege that the company attempted to intimidate employees by telling them they will get nothing if the company's contract proposal is not approved; that the company ordered union activists to report their movements and activities to supervisors, creating the impression that they were under surveillance; and that the company repeatedly removed union literature in some departments.

The company's response to the Guild's request to bargain: Three charges stem from the company's June 25 letter rebuffing the Guild's request to resume talks. The charges allege that the company refused to negotiate with the Guild, that the Journal declared impasse when no impasse existed, and that the Journal preconditioned a contract and further negotiations on the dismissal of unfair-labor-practice charges by the NLRB.

Babette Augustin: Augustin, an editor in the visuals department, went on medical leave several years ago. During this time, the company stopped withholding her parking fees from her paycheck. The company did not resume collecting the fees when she returned, but Augustin didn't notice. Earlier this year, the company then noticed that it hadn't been withholding the fees all along. It reinstated the fees and began collecting back fees by garnishing her paycheck. The Guild has accused the Journal of unilaterally modifying conditions of employment by reinstating the parking fees and by garnishing her wages without consulting the Guild.

Guild members who filled out a recent survey on the contract gave top priority to getting full retroactive pay equal to what nonunion workers received (3 percent in 2000, 3 percent in 2001, 0 in 2002, 3 percent in 2003).

Their second most important desire was to eliminate the provision that would have made the contract contingent on the National Labor Relations Board dismissing the company's 27 unfair-labor-practice convictions.

After the Guild voted 160 to 109 to reject the company's last contract offer, the Guild leadership asked members to complete a survey ranking what they most wanted changed in the company's proposal.

Among the 160 surveys that were returned, the other issues ranked as follows:

3. Guaranteed raises for 2004 and 2005 that shall be greater than 1.5 percent.

4. Language allowing the company to change retirement plans without negotiation shall be eliminated.

5. Other. The most common choices were restoring the lost holiday and the lost week of vacation for those employed less than five years.

6. The company shall reimburse us for all extra medical expenses (the higher co-pays and premiums) that resulted from the illegal imposition of health plans.

7. All part-timers shall get free parking.

The survey asked members to rank their contract priorities on a scale of 1 to 7.

The mandate was clearest on the top two items - retroactive wages and the NLRB convictions. These were both consistently very high on Guild members' priority lists. The scores on the other items showed less sharp differences.

The survey form also invited members to offer open-ended comments, and many took advantage of it. Here is a representative sampling of the comments:

"I was discouraged about our prospects, so I voted 'yes' this time, but I support the Guild in its efforts and am kind of proud the membership rejected the last offer. Not all 'yes' voters were pro-company, anti-Guild! Good luck!"

* * *

"Thanks and Congrats - all the time invested by the Guild really showed in recent discussions of proposal. Effort to listen as evidenced by survey is terrific. Let's hope both sides are listening."

* * *

"Don't let those thugs get away with breaking the law! If we give them a clean record, they'll do it again! They are completely treacherous and untrustworthy! (And I'm not too fond of them, either)."

* * *

"I am furious that the Guild saw fit to send a letter concerning a boycott to Steve Kass to read on the radio WITHOUT membership approval. I do not believe the Guild represents my interests, and I believe the executive committee has lost its ability to bargain in good faith. I was at the meeting before the vote took place and what I heard appalled me! It was the ranting of Tim Schick, who gave out misinformation and riled up many people just before the vote. This clearly demonstrates that the leadership will say anything to draw out these contract talks and I feel I cannot believe anything that comes from this organization."

* * *

"Everything we are asking for is reasonable. We have a proposal (the union's proposal), which truly is fair. NO MORE NEGOTIATING! The company is purely greedy and spiteful. The Guild's contract is good. We need to stick to it. No more skin off our backs. Let's take action. It is time for a circulation boycott. Time to picket-leaflet in front of big advertisers."

* * *

"The attitude, by both sides, that each other must be punished for their behavior should end. This is not a 'winner takes all' matter. The union should be willing to give up something to get something. I don't see that happening at the moment."

* * *

"The company expects 100% from its employees - we expect 100% in return. The company raised advertising rates in January +4% or more and in classified in January and again in July and they don't want to give us a 3% raise. They are squeezing every possible cent from the customers and on the other end they have not given us a raise since 2000. Where is all the money going? To the greedy bastards on the 4th floor and in management. They do not care about their employees - and that is extremely noticeable. Look how many long-time employees have left. Let's fight! Everything has gone up in price. We need a raise!"

* * *

"Let's NOT hold out for more than a few of these, let's get this settled!"

* * *

"Give us our money, so we can leave this dump."

* * *

"The company owes parking to nobody. It's a phony issue. Let it go!"

* * *

"Get reimbursed for parking in Journal's lots. All these years we had to pay. Unfair. When you work for a company you usually get free parking."

* * *

"Let's fight another year or two or three to get what admin. Judge says we deserve."


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TNG/CWA Local 31041
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