“Have you seen Frankenstein?”
As he likes to do every so often during bargaining, Associate Publisher George Hearst asked union leaders today when the parties could pick up the pace and bring negotiations to a speedier end.
Guild bargainers replied that the Company should look no further than its own proposal to see why negotiations might take a while.
“So far, your list includes a series of givebacks, many of them sweeping and many of them an extremely difficult sell to our members,” Guild President Tim O’Brien said on behalf of the bargaining team. “We’ll need you to be much more specific about what it is you’re really seeking.”
O’Brien noted the Company had asked the union to separate the proposed newsroom reorganization from the rest of contract talks. The union did so and worked out a swift agreement with the Company.
“We think if the Company wants to move more aggressively toward a contract, it needs to withdraw some of its most onerous proposals such as the elimination of 1(D), the proposal on ending seniority protection during layoffs, the elimination of the no-pay-cuts clause and changing days off without consent,” he added.
Section 1(D), which the Company wants to eliminate, says the Company cannot displace or replace staff positions and give that work to an independent contractor or nonunion part-timer. It protects us from our work being outsourced.
In 1994, the union made an exception to the language affecting drivers. At the time, there were 49. Today, there are five. (And, O’Brien noted, the Company assured the Guild at the time of the agreement that it had no intention to gut the drivers’ workforce.)
That’s when Guild bargainer Stacy Wood of advertising asked Hearst: “Have you seen ‘Frankenstein?’ ” If the union presented those proposals to the workforce, she said, members would be inclined to grab pitchforks and torches and chase the bargaining committee members into the hills.
Stacy had it right. The language in 1(D) is one of the bedrock protections afforded us by a contract.
Don’t back down, bargaining committee.