Guild has chance to say 'NO' to Gannett

Dateline: Tue 16 Jun 2009

 

Why are newspapers dying? The answers are contained in the following company-driven proposals that Gannett wants the Guild membership at the Indianapolis Star to accept.  The union needs to vote NO on this; it's a "to the death" battle.

Here is the latest from the Guild leadership:

 

"Subject: * E-inkling * Vote set for June 30 * Proposed contract
>
> June 12, 2009
>
> All:
>
> The Indianapolis Newspaper Guild today officially scheduled a membership vote for Tuesday, June 30, on the company's proposal for a two-year contract. Officers this afternoon mailed out details of the voting process to all Guild duespayers. We will be taking absentee ballots by mail, so even if you cannot be here in person you can get  your say.
>
> It's important, as you educate yourself on the 35-page proposal over  the next 2-1/2 weeks, that you understand this is entirely
> management's proposal. The Guild negotiating committee mitigated several concerns, but committee members still cannot endorse this  contract proposal.
>
> You should also know that the company has told us repeatedly that if the Guild membership rejects this proposal, future company offers are not going to get any better. The Guild bargaining committee, however, believes that improvements can be made that would make the package better and more likely to be acceptable to membership, and yet still acceptable to the company. Therefore, if the membership votes "no" we stand ready to return to the bargaining table. We also have twice  requested info on the company's financial condition so that membership  can make an informed decision on the financial sacrifices we are being  asked to make. The company has yet to share this information.
>
> Attached to the file is a copy of the proposed contract. [Also, here's  a round-up of the significant changes.]
>
> + Permanent pay cut of 12 percent (8 percent cut July 1, 4 percent cut  Oct. 1) for all Guild-represented employees.
>
> + Employees whose pay would drop below the federal minimum wage with a 12 percent pay cut will be reduced only to the federal minimum wage.
>
> + No pay increases for the term of the contract (two years from date of signing.)
>
> + Minimum rates of pay steps remain in the contract but are reduced 12 percent and go dormant. Employees in the steps will not receive their  automatic step increases during the term of the contract.
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> + Merit pool language remains in the contract but goes dormant. No merit pay increases for Guild-represented employees for the term of  the contract.
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> + Regarding advertorial content, adds language to allow the Publisher flexibility to assign Guild members “traditional and non-traditional  tasks.” Requires the Publisher to “be cognizant of and sensitive to its policy relating to ethics and conflicts of interest.” Side letter to the contract states in part, “the parties are in agreement that the Company’s current ethics policy does not allow editorial employees to  produce advertorial copy.”
>
> + In the event of layoffs, the company will consider seniority as the first factor along with individual skills and abilities and an
> employee’s performance and disciplinary history. The Guild gives up the right to grieve or seek arbitration on individual layoffs. We do have the right to grieve and arbitrate if the company ignores seniority or fails to use the criteria properly overall.
>
> + Positions currently covered by the Guild contract (Graphics/Design: Day Design Editor, Night Design Editor; Digital Central, Calendar Editor) become exempt from all provisions of the contract.
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> + 10 positions become exempt from the overtime provision but still are covered by all other provisions of the contract (Cartoonist, Sports Columnist, Public Service Columnist, Conversations Central Columnist, On The Town Columnist, IU Sports Beat, Motor Sports Beat, Pacers Beat,Colts Beat, Sports Special Projects Beat.)
>
> + On roundtrips of 100 miles or more, if an employee requests to use his/her own car rather than a company vehicle, the company will reimburse for actual fuel expenses only rather than the company’s fixed mileage rate.
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> + The paraprofessional job designation will cover calendar clerks, production liaisons and similar positions. Paraprofessionals may write stories of an uncomplicated nature.
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> + Changes the length of time the company has to give another day off to employees whose regular day off falls on a holiday from two weeks to up to 27 days.
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> In addition to these contract changes: The Guild must withdraw its arbitration against the company on behalf of seven members laid off in December, 2008. The arbitration is scheduled to be heard July 28.
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> All other provisions of the current contract are unchanged.
>
> ***
> We'll hold information sessions June 20 and June 28.
> Stay positive. Be proactive. Urge negotiation, not dictation!
>
> In solidarity, the Indy News Guild officers and stewards"

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