Guild meeting Sunday: Gannett tightening the screws

Dateline: Thu 05 Mar 2009

This is fresh off the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild's website, regarding the current tense relations between the union membership and management. Commentary will come in a future post.

"To all members:

The Guild is holding a membership meeting at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 8, at the Musicians Hall. We urge all members to attend. The purpose of the meeting is to bring you up to date on the current contract negotiations and to get your feedback and direction on future negotiations. At the meeting we will:

1. Explain the company's current contract proposals and how they will affect you and your working conditions.

2. Seek direction from the membership on how you want the Guild negotiating committee to deal with the company's three worst proposals. They are:

* a pay freeze, and the company has threatened to seek a pay cut if the Guild does not agree to a new contract quickly;

* the elimination of seniority as a consideration in future layoffs;

* and a "same as" provision. This "same as" provision would allow the company to impose any working conditions it deems necessary to reduce business expenses on Guild employees as long as it imposes the same working conditions on non-union employees. This proposal also seeks to take away the Guild's right to file grievances or seek arbitration on these changes.

3. Discuss what the members are willing to do to support the Guild as it tries to negotiate these proposals.

Gannett's labor team is pushing our bargaining committee to agree quickly to the three proposals outlined above. The company has threatened that its proposals will get worse if we do not agree to what they have offered. We consider their tactics not a negotiation, but a dictation.

The Indianapolis Star is changing, all in the name of economic survival. The impact has been felt in a variety of ways, smaller newspapers, layoffs, furloughs, and even an ad in the skybox of A1 starting with Sunday's paper. The Guild's members already have shown they are willing to make concessions to help the company during the difficult economic times by approving the furloughs in the first quarter of this year. Now we must fight to preserve as much of our contract as we can.

We need to hear your voice before we meet again to negotiate with the company's representatives on March 11 and 12. Please attend the Guild membership meeting at the Musicians Hall 2 p.m. Sunday, March 8. This is an opportunity for you to help shape our next contract.

The Guild contract negotiating committee"

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