After 5 weeks, Company shows up empty-handed
Five weeks after the Guild gave the Company a comprehensive off-the-record proposal that included significant givebacks, the Company showed up at the bargaining table Wednesday with no response.
So the two parties are going back on the record starting with a session that begins at 1 p.m. Thursday. It is as if it’s still June and the off-the-record talks the Company sought and kept insisting we extend never happened. This despite the Guild’s willingness to take some steps its members never would have imagined. Those concessions are now off the table.
“The Company likes to talk about flexibility, but it was not interested in demonstrating very much,” Guild President Tim O’Brien said. “We are very disappointed in the failure of the Company to match our efforts in trying to move this contract forward. Unfortunately, the Company was not interested in bargaining but in demanding we give in to virtually everything they wanted, whether or not it had any connection to the state of the economy or of the newspaper.”
But O’Brien said there is a great benefit to the end of the closed-door sessions.
“Now we get to communicate to our members everything we say and everything the Company proposes,” he said. “And we know that the best way to get a contract in these tough times is for our members to have their voices heard. We appreciate our members’ patience as we tried to work things out off-the-record, and we know we can count on your vocal support as we return to public talks.”
The bargaining team is conscious of the difficult economy, and it knows the new contract agreement will not be as generous as past agreements.
“We were and are willing to make concessions that help this newspaper through tough times,” O’Brien said. “But the newspaper also needs to work with us as partners and not simply demand we cave to every one of the bosses’ desires.”
Does the Guild have any response to the publisher’s recent e-mail? I’ve been wondering why we haven’t heard anything more specific from management or the union about how that might affect our jobs.
A good question, Staffer. The publisher’s message mainly focused on cuts to exempt staff wages and benefits because they do not have a contract. We do, and so changes must be negotiated. Those who are between steps will still get those raises under the existing contract. The rest of us will have to wait until a negotiated settlement. The Company can reduce overtime, though it cannot force you to work it without pay so don’t allow a supervisor to try to convince you to work unpaid hours and to take “comp time” at an undetermined later date. Thanks for asking.