Indianapolis Guild grieves layoffs

Dateline: Tue 26 Aug 2008

The Indianapolis Newspaper Guild is fighting back at Gannett Co., which laid off 23 employees at the Indianapolis Star Aug. 19, part of a nation-wide Gannett purge of at least 600 workers.

The Guild says five of seven staffers within the newsroom were discharged without regard to the Guild contract with Gannett. According to that contract, seniority is a protective clause in lay-offs.

The Inkling, the official web site of the Guild Local 34070, has this statement:

"The Indianapolis Newspaper Guild, TNG-CWA 34070, today notified the company that it is grieving the layoffs of the following persons: Mark Morrow, Mark Koenig, Greg Fisher, Kathleen Singleton and Jonathon LaRosa. It is our belief that seniority as described in Article VI, Section 1 was not followed in these layoffs. Morrow and Fisher had great seniority at the paper. Koenig, though newly full-time at the paper, had worked part-time at the paper previously. Singleton and LaRosa were not the most recent hires at the paper, though they may have been the most recent paraprofessionals hired at the paper. The Contract makes no distinction between departments or job titles when addressing seniority issues., For the Guild, Abe Aamidor, president."

The Guild is also considering a demonstration in the newsroom.

Years ago, Gene Pulliam reportedly said that he tolerated the Guild at the Star because it never gave him any trouble. The paper has never had a "closed shop," meaning that Guild membership was not mandatory for employees, and typically, newsroom rank and file membership ran from 40 to 50 percent of the staff in my day.

Still, the Guild remains vitally important to membership and employees. The union defends both non-members as well as members. Gannett is famous for pushing employees out the door almost, at times, on a whim; the union can and does stand up for those covered under the contract.

In terms of protocol and "what happens next," here's an explanation from union president Abe Aamidor:

"Grievances are decided unilaterally by the company... (which means the Guild could lose). But we have to file grievances first before moving to binding arbitration, and the company cannot refuse to submit to binding arbitration, which involves a third party decider."

Here are the links for the Inkling

http://einkling.wordpress.com/

and Editor and Publisher:

http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003842208

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