Belo rejects Guild ethics complaint
The Belo Corp. has rejected the Guild's request to discipline Journal Publisher Howard Sutton and General Manager Mark Ryan for violating Belo's new ethics policy.
The Guild has scheduled a rally for Thursday, Aug. 21, to protest Belo's selective enforcement of its policy and the Journal's continuing law-breaking. The rally will be outside the Fountain Street building from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m., rain or shine.
Last month, the Guild wrote to Guy H. Kerr, Belo senior vice president, to point out that under Sutton's and Ryan's leadership, the Journal had violated federal labor law 27 times.
Belo's Code of Business Conduct and Ethics requires all employees to obey laws, rules and regulations, and specifies that those who fail to do so shall be subject to disciplinary action.
But Kerr recently wrote back to say "the outstanding individuals you name have certainly not been found guilty of any illegal conduct that would require disciplinary action."
Kerr's one-paragraph letter also says that the rulings by the National Labor Relations Board "are not final, are being contested and are subject to change."
"Based on that standard," said Guild President John Hill, "Buddy Cianci would still be mayor, because his convictions are also on appeal.
"Imagine if a regular employee were convicted of drunk driving or assault or some similar offense. Would Belo overlook the misbehavior simply because the person had appealed the court's decision?"
(Several years ago, the Journal attempted to fire an employee arrested for drunk driving, even though a jury acquitted him.)
In the case of the Journal, Hill said, "evidence was presented in a court of law. A judge spent months considering it. And he found the Journal guilty -- 27 times. To suggest that the Journal is has not been found guilty is a bizarrely distorted view of the legal process."
Hill added that Belo's response is "just another example of Belo talking one way and acting another."
He noted that Belo Chairman Robert Decherd often sends out memos gushing about how Belo cherishes its employees. "We in Providence have never seen the Belo portrayed in those memos," Hill said. "We see a company that illegally took away a holiday, a week's vacation for many members and a popular dental plan, and denied us raises for nearly four years.
"An administrative law judge heard testimony an issued a verdict,'' Hill said. "For Belo to say 27 convictions don't exist shows that its ethics policy is the same at its employee policies -- nice words, full of integrity and promise, but signifying nothing. "
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