There is no way to sugarcoat this, folks. George Hearst’s latest e-mail to staffers contains a bald-faced lie.
The publisher states “regrettably, the Guild bargaining committee is not available to meet with our committee at all next week.”
That is false. No formal sessions are scheduled for next week, but the Guild clearly stated to company bargainers and to Hearst himself that it would be glad to receive any proposals the Company wants to make via e-mail. The Guild’s bargaining committee could then discuss it among themselves and respond via e-mail or we would be willing to come in and have a face-to-face discussion.
“We made this comment directly to the Company’s two attorneys during bargaining,” Guild President Tim O’Brien said. “And we ran into George Hearst as we came off the elevator and repeated the message. While we expect the Company to put its spin on what happens in negotiations, we do not expect them to flat out lie about what we say. George Hearst and his two attorneys owe our bargaining team an apology and a retraction.”
O’Brien said it made little sense to spend hours tied up in conference rooms waiting for the Company to make miniscule movements (and then loudly denounce the Guild, which has moved much further much faster). This is especially true when one bargaining committee member, Stacy Wood, is facing potential firing for not selling ads while she negotiates.
The following week, the Guild team is available for four days and even offered to give up its Saturday if talks are bearing fruit.
The rest of Hearst’s memo contains several distortions of fact. The bargaining committee has made clear that the Company’s unprecedented decision to cancel the contract requires we spend time preparing for boycotts, picketing and other actions we hope not to employ. But we made clear we intend to continue to bargain in good faith and offer solutions in the meantime.
“The Company wants it both ways: It wants to threaten to cancel the contract, cutting off the union’s funding and eliminate the right to take grievances to arbitration,” O’Brien said. “And then it wants to pretend that they’re the good guys. It wants to make little to no movement at the bargaining table and then complain that the Guild, which has made far more movement, is the problem.”
The comment made that we regressed on one proposal, requiring that the Publisher review every layoff, is silly. That was our counter to the Company’s claim that a fair way to prevent favoritism was to have the publisher review every layoff done outside of seniority. If the publisher does not want to be involved in reviewing layoffs, that’s fine by us and we’ll withdraw that portion of our proposal.
Of course, the Publisher has nothing to say about a far more damning regression he made. The Company on March 10 proposed to eliminate the rehiring list so that employees could be laid off and someone new could be hired for their job.