Vol XV, Issue 2 TNG/CWA Local 31041 January 30, 2004

NLRB Approves
ProJo Contract Settlement

Raise, retro to be paid February

We have a deal.

At about 4:45 p.m. Thursday, the Boston office of the National Labor Relations Board notified the company that the contract we ratified last month was acceptable as a settlement for all charges against the company.

"The (NLRB) Regional Director approved the withdrawal request based upon a representation that a private settlement has been reached between the parties in this matter," the NLRB order states.

That means that the contract is now in effect and the retroactive pay provisions and the signing bonus will appear in members' paychecks next week.

It also means that in eight weeks we will get 150 free parking spaces downtown and in six months we can join the new 401K plans.

Your pay should go up by 12.46 percent, when this year's raise and the previous years increases are factored in.

The retroactive payments for each member were included in the contract documents distributed in December. Those amounts were calculated through Nov. 30, 2003, and since the deal is taking effect in January, the payouts will be slightly higher when the December and January pay weeks are added in.

Remember, though, those amounts were PRE-TAX. The IRS and the state will withhold taxes from the money just as it does from your other paychecks. But there will be no withholding for your medical coverage because you've been paying that all along.

Congratulations. You deserve it.

Worcester Contract Approved 67-16

After more than 10 years of negotiations for a first contract, members of PNG's Worcester unit voted 67-16 Tuesday to ratify a contract with the Telegram & Gazette covering 200 news and circulation employees.

The contract ends one of the longest rounds of bargaining between a Guild local and an employer, covering more than a decade, two owners and some 250 bargaining session.

"The union is a viable force," said Unit Chair Kathy Shaw. "It's not going to go away, and in today's work world we need some protections."

During the early period of contract talks, the T&G management refused to agree to basic contract provisions such as arbitration of disputes and wage scales.

One of the most bizarre moments came in 1995, when Publisher Bruce Bennett and the human resources director picketed the paper to protest the Guild refusal to agree to company proposals.

The turning point came in 2000, when the paper was sold to the New York Times Company, and the Guild organized the circulation department.

Under the terms of the four-year contract, members will receive a 2.5 percent wage increase, phased in retroactive to September 1. In addition the Guild will negotiate annually for wage increases to take effect each September 1.

During the past ten years, the Guild used the company's own personnel policies to help members when they had problems. This allowed the Guild to function as a union from the first day, Shaw said.

"But the contract is much better," she said.

Throughout negotiations workers received annual wage increases, ranging from 2.5 to 3 percent. On several occasions, the Guild prevented the company from changing benefits plans.

During the late 1990s, the Guild filed several unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB over the T&G conduct. All were resolved prior to trial.

In addition, interim agreements reached during negotiations resolved a number of problems. When the inside circulation department was organized in May 2000, many of the employees working there were required to work six-day weeks.

"The company could not understand why absenteeism was so high," said PNG Administrator Tim Schick.

The Guild negotiated a five-day schedule that not only made members happy, but significantly reduced absenteeism.

"The Guild introduced the weekend to the Worcester T&G," Schick said.

Now that a contract is in place at the Telegram and Gazette, Guild members there will begin paying dues.

They will also be eligible to run for local-wide office and vote on issues affecting the entire local.

However, contracts will only be voted on by the members at the affected paper.


Copyright © 2004 The Providence Newspaper Guild
TNG/CWA Local 31041
270 Westmister St., Providence, Rhode Island 02903
401-421-9466 | Fax: 401-421-9495