POS contract is voted in, 56-45

Dateline: Tue 25 Aug 2009

This is from the Inkling:

"The membership of Indianapolis News Guild 34070 voted 56-45 to ratify acontract with Gannett. Members voted for a 2-year contract that takes effect Aug. 30 through Aug. 29, 2011. The contract includes a 10% pay cut and no wage increases during the term of the contract. The vote today also provides a settlement to 7 Star employees laid off in December 2008. Eighty-six percent of eligible voters cast ballots.

The action by the membership of the Guild is a financial sacrifice meant to help the Star’s bottom line during this economic downturn. It is a sacrifice that we alone are bearing, as management and other non-union personnel have not been asked to make this sacrifice.

We expect the company to be aware of this sacrifice when the economy improves.

We will soon provide the new contract to members, and we urge members to work that contract to the letter. No more free overtime."

The telling language is that this is a "financial sacrifice meant to help the Star's bottom line during this economic downturn....we expect the company to be aware of this sacrifice when the economy improves."

The notion that the Guild expects the company to honor its sacrifice (really, its suicide) is completely ludicrous.

Also, the Guild membership voted to throw its seven former colleagues under the Gannett crusher by agreeing to lousy settlements for them.

The fact that the contract was passed by only 11 votes indicates how divided union membership is; a shame, because a divided union only makes Gannett stronger and meaner.

As one friend noted, this vote gives new meaning to the expression, "blow job journalism."





Christopher Lloyd [unverified] said:

I want to personally thank everyone who voted, even those who felt compelled to vote "yes." I enjoyed meeting and talking with many of you in front of the music hall today as you went into vote. I especially want to thank the 45 who voted to preserve our arbitration rights. We may have lost, but you spoke out for what is right and true.

2009-08-25 20:15:26

VladtheImpaler [unverified] said:

Und now, friendz, vith zat kontract scheist behindz us, vould you pleaz be sure to place yur bylinz on der advertorials you vill be aasked to write. Schnell, schnell!

2009-08-25 20:38:10

DAS [unverified] said:

I'm sorry, Chris. I voted No. Looks like people got scared.
I wonder if the Guild realizes they might lose some members over this.

2009-08-25 20:50:43

west [unverified] said:

Look, DAS. The union did its job in an unbelievable climate. It negotiated the best deal it thought it could, put it up for a vote, and was honest with its members. The members voted yes, by a slim margin. That's how it works. If No had won, the guild would go another direction.

2009-08-25 21:20:55

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Gee, Ruthie...blow-job journalism? Really?

Under current Gannett policies, to be honest, that ind of insults a good BJ.

Just sayin'.

2009-08-25 21:29:23

Vic Ryckaert [unverified] said:

I'm really pissed about this, but as a guild officer I know that the members of the bargaining committee devoted a lot of effort into this. For me, casting this vote hurt today -- like opening a vein and watching the blood spill. I was prepared for this thing to get voted down and had told a couple people to expect a byline strike.
Where do we go now?

2009-08-25 22:27:02

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Byline strike. Superb idea. Why not do it anyway?

2009-08-26 04:31:46

StarStruck [unverified] said:

Just think, if the other 14 percent had bothered to vote -- and why didn't they??? -- maybe the outcome would have been different.

2009-08-26 04:41:29

John Howard [unverified] said:

What I find striking (no pun intended) is the total votes was but a mere 101 souls. Is that all the survivors there are left at the Star?

(I infer from StarStruck that the total may be 114 or so. That incredible, if accurate.)

2009-08-26 07:23:54

ruthholl [Member] said:

John, from the Inkling: the contract affects "170 hourly workers covered by the Indianapolis News Guild Local 34070, which includes reporters, photographers, librarians, copy editors, clerks; and to 17 maintenance workers also covered by the contract."
Based on that, the newsroom staff must be 185-190 people, although with each contract, more employees are expempt. Does anybody have exact figures of newsroom strength -- non-union and union folks? It used to hover at around 200 plus, when I was there. Gannett has fired/laid off a lot of people, but there are new bylines. The trick is to get rid of the higher-paid people and replace them with young journalists who can start out at the minimum. As one hip graphic designer told me some years ago, "I do not expect to retire from the Star." Not many do....
And if I sound sour, I apologize. I wish everyone the best. It's lousy. I just wish the contract had been voted down...

2009-08-26 09:13:26

Mr. Frustrated [unverified] said:

Well while the hourly folks make a huge sacrifice and turn their backs on 7 folks who were improperly let go and that is where it ends. The publisher still lives in Rochester and his ticket home every week or so is picked up by the company, must be nice. And can anyone believe the timing of a certain senior editor posting three internal jobs on the same night we learn we are going to be 10% poorer. I hope nobody applies for them. I am thinking of applying at the zoo because it appears I have plenty of experience working in one.

2009-08-26 10:42:47

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

"As one friend noted, this vote gives new meaning to the expression, "blow job journalism."

The worst I can remember my grandmas ever saying was "shoot" and "darn it."

I guess I'm a dinosaur or an old plow horse that needs to be put out to pasture.

But I don't think I could properly be stereotyped as a prude.

2009-08-26 11:34:41

ruthholl [Member] said:

Blow-job journalism used to refer to reporters giving favorable treatment (in print) to companies, events, etc. -- acting more like PR people than reporters. It's a hazard of the trade, I fear; easy to get lazy in the old days, but today it's fallout from too little time, lack of leadership and of course blends nicely with Gannett's philosophy of posting almost anything on its web site, in order to fill the void.

2009-08-26 12:15:51

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

Rummaging around on the 'net today I came across a half dozen Indy stories that I would have pursued, had I still been a features writer at the "old" Star. Sigh!

So much news, so little reporting...
One very small example: the new historic district called "Traders Point" does NOT include the actual point of land on which the pre-colonial traders (both Native American and Euro) plied their trade (in case anyone cares: it's where Fishback Creek flows into Eagle Creek), just north of Eagle Creek Park.

2009-08-26 12:51:49

ruthholl [Member] said:

Those stories are dead in the water with Gannett, sad to say; they went out the door almost as soon as Gannett came in, to be replaced by the news u can use and other short, almost infantile tidbits.
I was sad to see that Bill Wyman (in his recent white paper on reasons newspapers are dying etc - splice.com) put a lot of blame on features. But in truth, as you know and state, the features sections historically enjoyed a rich range of story-telling and edge and information, from food to travel to various issue-related series.
Too much man/woman-power to produce those sections these days, so features keeps getting the shaft. I think it is another example of how off the current state of newspapers is...

2009-08-26 14:00:32

SPJ [unverified] said:

Get this: The SPJ national convention is in town this week, and there's a session on Friday called "A Bulletproof Career"

And the punchline: One of the three panelists is Virgil Smith, vice president/talent management, Gannett Company, Inc.

Wonder if he'll take questions after?

2009-08-26 15:30:43

ruthholl [Member] said:

Lawks a mercy me. That's a whole comedy routine!

2009-08-26 16:37:33

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

It is, Ruthie. I might go for the sloppy seconds, joke-wise.

I'm still holding onto that BJ Journalism comment. What a gritty term. I says a lot.

2009-08-26 18:15:04

ruthholl [Member] said:

Gritty? Yes, it does. I can think of a few other adjectives...
Thanks TTT!

2009-08-26 21:07:02

Fyrecracker [unverified] said:

The Guild approved this nonsense and expects Gannett to reward them at a point sometime in the future?

Get real! Gannett will *never* willingly do anything that improves the lives or paychecks of its employees.

I think the fact that ridiculous statement was sent to Michael Kane verges on Stockholm syndrome. It's sad.

I feel for all of you, but you've got to wise up and get out! I did, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

2009-08-27 12:10:22

xx [unverified] said:

I think Fyre misses the point. I think they were telling him that the Indy guild should be spared next time the overpaid Gannett bigwigs start licking its chops at the revenue they can steal from its chain of newspapers.

2009-08-27 12:26:25

ruthholl [Member] said:

It is a case of Stockholm syndrome, isn't it? I about choked when I read that the Guild is requesting management not assign any Guild people to do advertorial work, "out of a concern for ethics," (Tom Spalding's words) when the Guild approved the contract, which includes that provision. Say wha? Ethhics? Gannett? Hello???

The sad part is, Gannett comes out the winner, in more ways than one. The closeness of the vote shows there's not much solidarity in the union, frankly. As I've said before, I think they needed a real pushy PR campaign, more exposure, more info, rather than low-balling the whole thing, trying to keep it all hush-hush.

Spalding got one thing right in his letter to the publisher (posted on the Inking today). He said "employees...are bewildered, upset and depressed..."

So take some action. Leave. Walk out.
STRIKE. (and yes, I know the contract forbids it; so what? You think Gannett is going to uphold its word? Its already proven it won't....)


2009-08-27 12:34:10

nicmart [Member] said:

On the one hand the staffers vilify Gannett, but on the other they have always been willing to assume the position and deliver those blow jobs.

Nobody with guts and integrity would have worked for Gannett in the first place.

2009-08-28 10:08:28

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