Vol XIV, Issue 21 TNG/CWA Local 31041 Sept. 8, 2003
Children are allowed at Journal
Bring stuffed animals Tuesday to support working parents

From Cops to Conversation: Advertiser leafleting elicits differing responses

Guild members leafleting two automobile dealers on Saturday elicited opposite reactions from their targets.

At Bald Hill Dodge and Subaru in Warwick, a man identifying himself as the general manager angrily approached the Guild members, accepted a packet of information from them, and said he was calling the police.

A Warwick patrolman soon arrived, and informed the Guild members that a city ordinance prohibits leafleting on public ways. Skeptical but obedient, the three handbillers left. The Guild, questioning the legality of the police action, has asked the Rhode Island ACLU to review the legality of the ordinance and police directive.

At Inskip Volvo and Acura, the dealership's employees greeted the Guild members soon after they arrived, and chatted with them politely. They took a packet of information and said they would give it to their manager, but did not indicate whether they would contact Sutton. Believing they had made their point, the leafletters left.

The Guild learned later that Journal managers had already visited Inskip.

It's not clear whether the employees were sincere or had merely been advised to "make nice" with Guild members to get them to go away.

The Journal does not have a policy banning children from the building. In a conversation with Guild Administrator Tim Schick, Human Resources Director Thomas McDonough said that no such policy exists.

Schick and McDonough discussed the matter because Pat Welker, managing editor for administration, had evicted three children of Guild members from the newsroom last week, saying it was company policy that no children were allowed.

Such a policy would have been a change in working conditions and thus subject to negotiations because in the past, Guild members (and members of management) have brought their children into the building for years without censure.

But McDonough said it was all a mistake.

Nevertheless, Teddy Bear Tuesday is still on, no longer as a protest but now as a statement of support for a family-friendly workplace. Everyone is encouraged to bring a stuffed animal to work to show that our children matter to us and that we expect our employer to respect that.

The child-eviction issue caused a stir in the newsroom last week. One reporter had to leave early because Welker said her child could not stay in the newsroom. Later Welker upbraided another reporter who had to bring his child in because both he and his wife were called in on emergency overtime.

In a third instance, Welker kicked out a child who was actually 20 years old and who was quietly watching television, waiting for his mother.

Reporter Linda Borg, who has no children, was so outraged that she posted a letter (reproduced below) on Jim Romenesko's Web site at the Poynter Institute. That caught the attention of Executive Editor Joel Rawson, who told Borg there was no such anti-child policy at the Journal.

Many managers occasionally bring their children into the office, so the issue was of widespread concern.

On Friday, Carol Young, deputy executive editor, personally apologized to the parents of the three children involved. Guild members throughout the building were heartened by the company's swift action to set matters straight, and to apologize to those who had been wronged.

Linda Borg's letter to Romenesko

Nasty newsroom atmosphere
9/4/2003 11:39:32 AM
Posted By: Jim Romenesko

From LINDA BORG, education reporter, Providence Journal:

As you may know, The Providence Journal has been involved in a long-running fight with the Newspaper Guild over the guild's contract. Both sides are very entrenched, but lately, management has decided to get downright nasty.

Last week, the only black woman iin the newsroom was singled out for bringing her son to work, briefly, while his babysitter went to the doctor. She was told never to do this again because it was company policy. No other parent was asked to do the same. The following day, two more parents were called into the editor's office and told the same thing. The editor is Pat Welker, the Journal's beancounter.

One of the parents had her son, a 20-year-old man with Down's Syndrome, in the office for 20 minutes prior to a dentist's appointment. She was told that he had to leave, even though he is an adult and was quietly watching TV.

Belo recently sent out a letter about how "family friendly'' the company is. Clearly, their actions belie their words. Some of us here are outraged that we are being treated like chattel. One reporter, for example, brought his daughter into work because he had to work overtime on a breaking story and couldn't leave his daughter home alone.

Don't forget to vote! Mail your ballot today!
The deadline to choose your candidate to serve on the Executive Committee, the local's governing body, is Thursday, Sept. 11.

Geraldine Corrigan of classified and Paul Edward Parker of the newsroom are competing for the seat vacated when Thom Cahir became Guild secretary.

Every Guild member in good standing has been mailed a ballot. To be counted, all ballots must be in the Guild's election post office box by Thursday morning. Don't miss this chance to influence the Guild's future.

Copyright © 2002 The Providence Newspaper Guild
TNG/CWA Local 31041
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