Guild files ethics complaint against Sutton, Ryan
The Guild has asked Belo to discipline Publisher Howard Sutton and General Manager Mark Ryan because they violated Belo's new ethics policy when, under their leadership, the company broke federal labor laws 27 times.
In February, Belo instituted a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics that requires all employees to obey laws, rules and regulations. Those who fail to do so shall be subject to disciplinary action, according to the policy.
This week, the 10 members of the Guild leadership wrote to Guy H. Kerr, Belo's general counsel, to point out that the Journal had been found guilty of 27 unfair labor practices.
"Belo's response to our complaint will tell its employees everywhere whether this company is serious about ethics,'' said Guild President John Hill. "If Belo believes in its own policy and applies it fairly to all employees, the company will call its Providence managers to account for the company's law-breaking over the past four years."
The Guild's letter draws attention "to the ongoing violation of the National Labor Relations Act.
"The violations date back to 1999, are continuing to date and have not been remedied," the Guild's letter states. "As a result of two separate hearings, Administrative Law Judge William G. Kocol has ruled the law was violated.
"We believe the conduct that resulted in these findings of violations of law were orchestrated and condoned by the senior management of the Providence Journal: Publisher Howard Sutton and General Manager Mark Ryan.
"We believe these violations were the result of calculated decisions by these top managers in an effort to compel unionized employees to accept a contract proposal by resorting to violations of law.
"The result of this misconduct has been losses suffered by employees, through illegally modified benefits, and costs to stockholders as a result of legal fees and back-pay liabilities.
"We respectfully request that immediate disciplinary action be taken against these individuals as called for in the Belo Corp. Code of Business Conduct and Ethics."
The letter is signed by John Hill, Jeff Andrade, Gregory Smith, Jordan Malik, Felice Freyer, Thom Cahir, W. Paul Davis, Bob Kerr, Del St. Jean, and Kerry Kohring.
"Will Belo really discipline Sutton and Ryan? I don't see how they can explain themselves if they don't," Hill said. "Either they act, or they admit that their ethics policy is a sham.
"In the end, though, our greatest hope is that Belo will simply tell its Providence managers to return to the bargaining table and negotiate a contract proposal that Guild members can accept."
TNG/CWA Local 31041
270 Westmister St., Providence, Rhode Island 02903
401-421-9466 | Fax: 401-421-9495