Thanks to the Guild

How the union has helped our members at the T&G

Rick Eggleston, sports copy editor:

Not only is the Guild responsible for saving my job, it helped get me a job at the Telegram & Gazette in the first place. After a copy editor in sports was laid off in 2010 by the T&G’s owner, The New York Times, the “call-back” clause in the Guild’s contract that went into effect in 2011 meant he was offered his job back, albeit on a part-time basis. However, having already found a new job, he declined. Aware that I was unemployed, he mentioned to management that I might be interested in the position. I certainly was, and I was hired as a part-time copy editor in sports on Feb. 14, 2011.

When The New York Times sold the T&G to the Boston Globe in 2013, my position was eliminated. I was forced to leave on Oct. 10, 2013.

Fortunately, my departure was brief, as the Globe, under pressure from T&G management, agreed to hire back a part-time copy editor. That person was me. Again, the Guild’s “call-back” clause meant the company had to offer me my previous job before they could post the position elsewhere. I “restarted” my career at the T&G on Dec. 1, 2013.

I also credit the Guild for helping me attain full-time status in 2015, when the T&G was sold to GateHouse. The Guild pushed management to make me full time in the months after I was brought back. Finally, when Halifax sold the paper to GateHouse, I was made full time on Dec. 20, 2015.

Lynne Tolman, multimedia content editor: 

When Boston Globe Media Partners failed to match 401(k) contributions in 2013-2014, in the wake of John Henry’s acquisition of the T&G from the New York Times Co., it took the Guild to make the company aware that multiple employees were affected and to get us the missing money  plus interest.

When the New York Times Co. and Boston Globe Media Partners failed to make some or all of the “3 percent” lump-sum contributions to employees’ 401(k) accounts in March 2014, as required annually by a union contract provision that the Guild negotiated to help compensate for the 2010 pension freeze, the Guild got us the money within a couple of months.

When a handful of newsroom employees were cheated out of overtime pay for June 2, 2014 (the Monday morning massacre when Boston Globe Media Partners sold the T&G to Halifax), the Guild got us the money. It took about seven months of bargaining, lasting into the GateHouse ownership era. It might not have been possible for me to wrangle on my own. It was a small amount of money for a small number of people, but it involved a violation of federal law and of principle, and we could not shrug it off.

When T&G non-union employees’ wages were cut 2.5 percent in 2008, employees in the Guild did not suffer a pay cut. We were protected.

Over the years, as private-sector and public-sector employees everywhere saw their share of health insurance premiums soar, our share was capped by our Guild contract. We still faced significant increases, but I bet that without the cap (24 percent of premiums for most full-timers), we would have had to pay a lot more. I bet it would have cost us more than our union dues, and without a contract we would have lost other protections too.

Dan Fitts, retired copy editor: 

Thanks to Guild bargaining, the severance package that I received when I left the T&G in 2015 after 22 years included several more weeks of pay than the initial GateHouse Media offer.  It was just one of several ways in which the Guild looked out for the interests of members of the bargaining unit. In this day of hedge fund ownership of newspapers, where concern for profit margins and stock performance are paramount, the Guild is more important than ever before.

Laurie Schlatter, retired multimedia content editor: 

From the beginning, the company fought the Guild tooth and nail. It got ugly at times, but the fight was worth it because, as dues-paying members, we learned we could count on the Guild to stand up for us on issues of fair treatment and representation when management threw its weight around.

For example, one holiday season the copy desk chief was breathing fire at me for having the audacity to want vacation time during Thanksgiving so I could go see my mom. …The union went to Human Resources, and HR went to the copy chief and said Monday was one of my weekend days. It was a logical and obvious answer, but there are always times when management likes to yank our chains for its own purposes.

The union also steps in when a member rocks the wrong boat. I sat in as a union-trained observer on behalf of a reporter whose tweet rubbed the bosses the wrong way. The reporter was facing disciplinary measures. Our job is to make sure no one goes through that alone or without recourse to representation. … the result of no disciplinary action and a mutually agreed path forward on all parts. Betsy Regan, administrator for our union local, oversaw documentation.

We would’ve been royally screwed during all the transitions if not for the union. It’s worth the dues. I’m a retired member now, still paying dues (a much lower bill), because I believe in supporting you all. Stay righteous!

Bill Thomas, former multimedia content editor:

The value of a union – especially these days – seems to me to be a no-brainer. The hallmark of the Guild has been its steadfast, unyielding, unifying resolve in the face of crushing opposition …

To those who would eschew unions for their own agenda; that is a sure path toward workplace inequity. The Guild serves to protect and rally for the rights of its workers. As management squeezes its workforce ever more tightly, such protection is paramount. Unions are the key to holding ground regarding salary negotiations, benefits and contracts; indeed to the very viability of journalists’ survival.