Guild is in there battling, as always

Dateline: Thu 14 Aug 2014

Here is an update from what sounds like an extremely tough week of negotiations. The voice is that of the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild.

 

We essentially fought the company to a standstill.

The Guild fended off the company’s most odious contract proposals on severance pay but had to accept a new 2-year deal that brings no guarantees of wage increases. Our dues payers must vote on the ratification of the contract. Details to come.

The agreement Wednesday afternoon came just a few hours after a midday meeting of Guild members where passions were high and – with no agreement in sight – we were talking street protests.

From the sentiments shared at that meeting, the Guild’s bargaining team found a pathway to a deal – we would drop our pay raise request in order to kill the company’s proposal to do away with severance pay for workers fired after being deemed poor performers.

This was important because so many of you said that proposal could easily be used by the company to make it easier and cheaper to fire folks who have fallen out of favor. It was also increasingly clear the company would not budge on wages, raising the prospects of an ugly stalemate and potentially an impasse.

Several aspects of this deal related to making the best of a difficult situation. Some examples:
*The company will begin its job cuts by seeking people willing to accept voluntary layoffs. Those accepted will get normal severance payments but also health insurance coverage during the severance.

*Severance and health care coverage will also apply to employees not chosen for jobs in the new organizational chart.

*Downtown building service workers whose jobs will disappear because of the move to Circle Center Mall will get an additional four weeks of severance pay.

The Guild also fended off the company’s proposal to use temp workers on an unlimited basis. Previously, the contract limited temps to three months, six if the Guild agreed to an extension. As a compromise, we agreed to allow temps to be employed with the company for one year.

There were some other language revisions on advanced notification before layoffs, on pay scale minimums and on job titles that will reflect the new reorganization.

We know that the victories here were mainly the defensive kind. But in such a challenging environment for newspapers your show of support over these many months – and especially in these final days – helped us emerge in a better position than we might have. We’re also quite convinced that, compared with other Gannett papers without Guilds, the workers whose jobs are about to disappear will fare much better.

These next few weeks – as the reorganization takes hold – promise to be very difficult, even painful. But the lesson from these negotiations is that we are much stronger when we hang together.

Most striking in these final days was how selfless our members were. Those whose tenure here appears to be ending were still concerned about the need for wage increases for the workers who will remain. Those who expect to be here when the dust settles were concerned about preserving the severance for those more vulnerable. It was an uncommon level of altruism, and we were humbled by it.

Not to be overlooked are the countless hours the Guild bargaining team put into this endeavor. Jill Disis, Michael Campbell and Bob Scheer took part at different points. These past three days of marathon sessions involved Jill Phillips, Tony Cook, DuJuan Carpenter, Michael Pointer, John Russell and TNG sector representative Jay Schmitz. They represented you passionately and aggressively. They sacrificed long hours from their jobs and their families. It was a privilege to work with them.

Finally, we know some aspects of mobilizing sometimes feel silly. How many Fridays can one wear red? How many helium-filled balloons does it take to get a decent contract? But we know for a fact that, in the end, your willingness to show your colors made it clear to management that we were united, and that the Guild wasn’t to be taken lightly.

We hope that as many of you as possible will, along with your families, join us this Sunday for our outing at the Indians game at Victory Field. After such a heavy week, let’s enjoy a day of fun at the ballpark. See Vic Ryckaert for tickets.
3 comments

The Guild sums it up

Dateline: Mon 11 Aug 2014

From our local Indianapolis Newspaper Guild, this statement:

 

"The Indianapolis Star today announced today its "newsroom of the future." It involves 15% fewer journalists than the newsroom of the present. The copy desk, those folks who make sure stories are readable, who catch a tremendous amount of mistakes and who generally make everything of higher quality, is being "dissolved." We're going to lose 5 of 11 photographers and other support staff. Some good middle managers who guide journalists young and old will be out of a job soon, too. What the paper is telling the public is that there will be 6 more reporters. And there will be. With beats like beverages, party crasher and holidays and observances. No, we are not making this up. Welcome to the future."

Good Lord.

5 comments

Mary Beth Schneider on Twitter

Dateline: Mon 11 Aug 2014

The former political reporter for the Indy Star, Mary Beth Schneider, is reporting managers being hacked from 24 to 16, copy editors from 12 to zero, photo staff from 11 to 6, video editing, from 1 to zero, and reporters being increased from 51 to 57.

Plus some nebulous category called "producers" are going from 15 to 22. Can anyone define producers?

Obviously the Star is going to rely on reporters more for taking pix and being their own copy editors as well as managers.

Also, those who volunteer to leave (assuming their jobs are tapped) are being promised severance packages.

People are gagging over M.E. Jeff Taylor's glossing over the situation.

http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2014/08/11/what-the-stars-newsroom-of-the-future-looks-like/13914511/

But what else is new?

 

 

1 comment

Eighteen jobs cut

Dateline: Mon 11 Aug 2014

at the Indianapolis Star, leaving one to wonder: who will be left standing to put out the paper?

The word is that nobody is getting the axe today; Gannett, in its fake munificense, is allowing people to reapply for jobs. Those who don't make the cut will be dismissed.

As in the past, it's simply a numbers game.

Here's a breakdown of who is on the chopping block: 12 copy editors (meaning all copy editors at this point, gasp!), 8 managers, 5 of the photo staff (about half), 3 folks in support (secretaries?) and everyone who is part-time.

The numbers do not add up because, in theory, some people will be retained. But the above apparently must all reapply for their jobs.

I do like what former music critic/Guild president/Star refugee Marc Allan said: if you're still there, and your number is up, do not allow this experience to define you. You are not a copy editor...or a photographer...or a manager.

The point is....you are a journalist, and your skills are transferrable.

That strategy has proved to work out for many former colleagues.

If anyone has any corrections to make to the above, speak up. Several people have fed me information today, but nothing is official.

Good luck to everyone.

Note: I first reported 19 jobs are gone, but 18 is what is being said now.

 

 

1 comment

Date changed to tour building

Dateline: Thu 19 Jun 2014

Thanks to Randy Baughn for posting on the Great Hoosier Daily:OPEN HOUSE DATE CHANGE!

FYI — date change — spread the word!? Thanks

From: <Hervey>, Emily Hervey <emily.hervey@indystar.com>
Date: Thursday, June 19, 2014 12:21 PM

Subject: DATE CHANGE: The Final Edition at 307 now 8/14/14

Please save the new date for our farewell building party!

The Final Edition at 307
Thursday, August 14, 2014
The Indianapolis Star, 6th Floor 
4:00 – 6:00pm

Invitations will be sent shortly.


Myrta Pulliam
Director, Special Projects
Star Media | IndyStarMedia.com
Office: 317.444.8008

 

2 comments

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