It's on -- Guild to vote re: Gannett contract

Dateline: Wed 03 Jun 2009

Here is the latest from the Inkling, the newsletter published online by the Indianapoois Newspaper Guild. As usual, it is not good news: it's more of the same -- Gannett is taking advantage of a weak union that is not a closed shop. Ironically, the Star is one of the biggest money-makers for the paper, as you will read here, yet the sacrifices asked of workers are way out of line:

"May 30, 2009


The bargaining committee of Indianapolis News Guild Local 34070 hasagreed to put Gannett’s two-year contract offer (dated 4-15-09) to ourmembership for a vote.

The committee initially rejected that offer, and at a meeting Thursday between the Guild and Indy Star reps, little progress was made to improve any of the provisions in the company's proposal from April.However, the company made a small concession on the wording of theflexibility language (i.e. who will and who won't have to handle' advertorial' products in the future) and clarified the potentialimpact of new seniority language. Our representative from theinternational Newspaper Guild, Jay Schmitz, who represents us at the bargaining table and has helped negotiate several of our most recent contracts with the Star, advised us to fulfill our original commitmentto the company to take this proposal to our full membership for a vote.

The date has not been set, but that vote will be held within thecoming weeks. You will be notified by mail. We are hoping for 100percent participation from duespayers at the time of the election.

We'll soon get you a working copy so you can see what you'll be votingon, but here are the biggest concerns:

A 12 percent pay cut (8 percent on July 1 and 4 percent more on Oct. 1)No pay increases for the two-year term of the contract.No guarantee there will not be more layoffs despite these pay concessions.No written guarantee there will not be more furloughs despite the pay cut.Dropping our arbitration that involves 7 co-workers ousted Dec. 3.

We reiterated to the company that the bargaining committee still  cannot recommend or endorse this package. We also told the company about the mixed messages we have received in recent weeks regarding the financial state of the Star (that our newspaper remains more profitable than Gannett as a whole according to a recent letter to the employees from new publisher Michael Kane), and that economically speaking, much less of a sacrifice is being asked of newspaper Guilds that are in much bigger trouble than Gannett. We suggested ways their proposal could pass; they prefer to stay as-is.

So be it.

We expect to accomplish several things with this vote. It will satisfythe company's desire to have the members vote on this proposal,despite our warnings there is little chance it will be approved. Weexpect it to show the company that Guild members are united indemanding a fair contract. This vote will help the contract
negotiating committee at the bargaining table.

With our futures at stake, we promise to be proactive andsolution-minded, with info sessions to come.


The bargaining committee of Indy News Guild 34070"




Tell The Truth [Member] said:

This is the very definition of strong-armed management tactics. They sense the economy is weak, and that newspapers are hard-hit (in general).

The workers are screwed because Gannett may be faltering nationally, and not doing so badly locally...but they'll never break out the Indy P&L statement. Their attitude is: we'll project the worst-possible scenario for any one paper, on the entire country, and gain concessions in the process. They teach this stuff in biz schools.

What if they vote no? It's a no-win situation.

Good karma sent out to the Guild members and officers: here's hoping you are at peace with whatever solution arises. We need you. And we're thinking about you.

2009-06-04 04:53:22

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