Vol XV, Issue 3 TNG/CWA Local 31041 February 5, 2004
Friday is Retro Day
Support businesses that helped us

Some things to keep in mind as Retro Day approaches.

Benefit selection forms due Feb. 10

Guild members must return benefit selection forms by February 10. Under the new contract, a variety of new and expanded benefits are offered. But you must complete and return the forms.

If you have questions regarding the options, contact Human Resources at 277-7202.

First, the tax bite will be big. Under IRS regulations, if retro pay is awarded in a check separate from your regular paycheck, 25 percent must be withheld for taxes. Expect a 6.2 percent bite for Social Security taxes, 1.45 percent for Medicare, 1.5 percent for temporary disability insurance and state income tax withholding, which will probably top out a 9.9 percent. That comes to about 44 percent, BEFORE any 401K deductions.

The raises, about 12 percent, will show up in next week's paychecks, because our paychecks are always a week behind.

You'll get a lot of the state and federal income tax withheld in the retro pay back next spring when you file your 2004 return. If you want you can adjust your withhold rate for the rest of the year to get the money spread out over the rest of 2004 by filling out a new W-4. But remember to readjust it back up or you could end up owing takes instead of getting a refund next year. It might be a good idea to discuss that with your tax preparer.

Even with the deductions, these will still be pretty good-sized checks and we're sure many of you have been putting off some major purchases over the past three years or so, waiting for this day.

The Executive Board strongly recommends that when think about where to shop for some of those items you take time to remember two particular companies that were the most supportive of us over the past few months.

If you have been considering a new or even used car, we urge you to start that search with Pride Auto Group. None of us has to be reminded of the marvelous letter Pride owner Al Anjos wrote to Publisher Howard Sutton on our behalf, after only receiving a simple letter from us.

Pride (www.pridecars.com) sells new Chrysler, Kia, Dodge, Jeep, Ford, and Hyundai vehicles and no doubt has a respectable inventory of used cars as well. Pride operates out of dealerships at 13 Taunton Ave. in Seekonk and 20 Division St. in Pawtucket. On just our asking, Mr. Anjos stepped in to remind our publisher that treating workers right is good business. He deserves more than just our thanks. He deserves our business.

And if you are thinking about furniture, please start your search at Cardis. The Cardi brothers have superstores in at 1681 Quaker Lane (Route 2) in West Warwick, at 1 Furniture Way, just up the street from Exit 2 off Interstate 195 in Swansea, and at their new superstore at 999 Newport Ave. (near Route 1A and Interstate 95) in South Attleboro.

Their website (www.cardis.com) lists more than 20 furniture manufacturers whose lines they carry. These guys were also willing to get personally involved, calling Howard Sutton directly to plead our case. They could have blown us off but instead they made the call, and kept in touch afterwards.

Several members have emailed their thanks to Cardis at the company website and the notes have always been answered. These guys showed they cared. We need to show our gratitude for that.

Other things to keep in mind, especially I you are in your 20s or 30s. Think hard about putting some of the raise that will show up in next weeks' paycheck into your 401Ks, no matter how small the amount. There will be enough of a raise left that you won't notice the loss and 30 years from now you will thank yourself.

If you are thinking of getting a cellular phone, check out the CWA website www.cwa.org because as a union shop Cingular gives members of CWA -- of which as members of the Newspaper Guild, you are -- a 15 percent discount on their plans.


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