Gannett gets ugly...er, uglier

Dateline: Wed 11 Feb 2009

Following is the latest email from the Indianapolis Star's newspaper Guild. The gist of it is, Gannett wants the right to assign reporters to write advertising copy. This is a violation of a free press and First Amendment rights. It's unprecedented for any credible newspaper to have such expectations.

In addition, the company is using its muscle to try to scare the Guild into a quick contract, hinting (in thinly veiled language) that any delay could result in job loss.

Read it and weep...

"From: Indy NewsGuild70

Date: February 11, 2009 12:57:07 AM EST

Subject: ** E-INKLING ** Contract negotiations update

Tuesday afternoon, your Indianapolis Newspaper Guild contract bargaining team completed two days of talks with management representatives from The Star and Gannett. Although we tentatively reached agreement on three minor matters, we are still left with significant differences between our proposal and Gannett's 12-page

offer.

On Monday, Bill Behan, the lawyer bargaining for Gannett and The Star, told us he was uninterested in any of our contract proposals, which included parts of Gannett's own ethics policy regarding differentiating news and advertising. Tuesday, our bargaining team indicated the Guild is uninterested in several of the company's proposals, which would weaken the working conditions in the newsroom and building services.

We are steadfastly against the company's proposed changes to our contract that would allow Guild-represented employees to be assigned advertorial work; would make the publisher the sole determiner of which employees are let go in any future layoffs, eliminating the Guild's right to grievance or arbitration; would keep wages stagnant; would allow the outsourcing of work currently done by Guild-represented employees; would allow the manipulating of the 40-hour work week with split shifts and split days off; and would curtail the payment of overtime for some employees.

Our Guild, by recently voting to agree to a week of furloughs, has shown that it is reasonable and willing to be flexible to help the bottom line of the Indianapolis Star. But several of the contract proposals by the company go too far. All of the 200-plus members of our bargaining unit need to be concerned and to stay informed.

Although it is still early in the process, the negotiator for the company has told the Guild bargaining committee that we better be willing to negotiate a new contract quickly, saying the company's proposals could get even worse if he receives "new marching orders" as Gannett struggles during the economic downturn.

We return to the bargaining table Feb. 24-25.

-- The officers and stewards of Indianapolis News Guild Local No.

34070"

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