The latest disturbing news: 15 percent pay cut, sez Gannett

Dateline: Thu 12 Mar 2009

This is a statement from the Guild at the Indianapolis Star:

"March 12, 2009

To all,

The Indianapolis News Guild is sad to inform you that Gannett is now

seeking to cut the pay of newsroom and building services employees by 15 percent. The lawyer for the company provided us with a one-page

'supplemental' proposal this afternoon that he said would implement

this uniform salary reduction either 1) at the time we reach a new

contract with the company, or 2) at the time both sides reach an impasse and cease talks.

This was a disappointing move, given that we thought the company's bargaining team was starting to embrace the concept of negotiating

instead of dictating. In fact, we believe the company's actions at the

table today raise the specter of regressive and bad-faith bargaining.

Company lawyer Bill Behan said Gannett expects to save $1.5 million

annually by cutting salaries across the board within the union. He said the Indianapolis Star is 'viable' and to continue to make it viable, the company must cut its expenses in light of the economic slowdown that is hurting ad revenue.

The Guild did not respond to the proposal immediately; we asked for

financial information so we can confirm whether the company's finances

are as dire as claimed. Behan declined to disclose those numbers. He

also declined to say whether this 15 percent proposal is aimed

exclusively at the 200+ members of our bargaining unit (newsroom and

building services) or would also apply to other employees at the Star,

including management. And, although we have no direct control over

health care costs, we have asked if the company will be

adjusting/reducing premiums, as there are four 'tiers' that are tied

to your annual salary.

Despite this setback, the Indy News Guild believes it is far from an impasse. We were progressing on the matter of layoff language, i.e.

how the company uses seniority when it determines who to lay off in such a scenario. The Guild believes it has plenty to talk about at the bargaining table and will continue to try to negotiate a fair contract

for the company.

Nothing is going to happen immediately. We return to the bargaining table in mid-April, and we'll again be calling a membership meeting soon to discuss strategy and our options. As always, stay tuned to indynewsguild.com for background and shoot us an email at

indynewsguild70@gmail.com."

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