"A day and a half of contentious bargaining over a new Guild contract ended Thursday after Gannett’s corporate lawyer walked out of the talks in a huff.
"The abrupt conclusion to the second round of talks ended with no agreement in sight and the sides still far apart.
"Gannett still stands on its proposal for no pay increase and a vague plan to outsource jobs from our design desk. The Guild is still seeking a restoration of the 10 percent we gave up two years ago, cost of living increases and other language to improve working conditions.
"Gannett senior counsel Scott Feldman walked out of the talks Thursday less than an hour after they resumed, taking The Star’s human resources director, Olivia Lamelle, and Star administrative editor Todd Moore with him.
"Feldman, who has done nearly all the talking on The Star/Gannett’s behalf, led the walkout after being peppered by the Guild’s bargaining team with questions about details of Gannett’s proposal to outsource 6 to 8 design jobs.
"Feldman has criticized every aspect of the Guild’s proposals for being too general or too vague, and pressing for examples that make them necessary. But when the Guild’s team asked probing questions about the timing of the design outsourcing and the nature of the work Gannett would like to leave in Indianapolis he packed up his things and left the bargaining table.
"The talks will resume next month.
"A key highlight of Wednesday’s talks came when the Guild pressed Feldman to open The Star’s financial books to show cause for a continued wage freeze. But Feldman rejected the request, even when the Guild offered to agree not to publicly disclose the information.
"A few other themes from this week’s discussions:
*Feldman dismissed the notion of cost of living increases, saying it is Gannett’s position that an employee shouldn’t get a raise “just for staying alive another year.”
*Feldman said the Guild shouldn’t try to make the layoff process more complicated and burdensome for The Star by seeking an advanced notice before future layoffs, even if such a warning might enable the Guild to prevent The Star from giving out bad severance information, as happened this summer.
*Feldman vigorously argued that the newspaper should be able to publish unaltered press releases in news positions and opposed a new language proposal that would further insulate journalists from doing advertorial work.
"The Guild’s bargaining team put in a stellar effort to stand up to such ridiculous assertions and make the case for better pay, for ethical journalism and to oppose the outsourcing plan.
"There’s much work to do to give our positions a chance for success -- more advertising efforts, more leafletting efforts, and a focused campaign of support from the political, business and faith communities. And we will be calling on your help.
"The Guild’s bargaining team included: DuJuan Carpenter, Emily Kuzniar, Michael Pointer, Adam Yates, Carl Sygiel and Bobby King. They were advised by The Newspaper Guild’s sector representative, Jay Schmitz."