The day ended in obnoxious fashion, with the Company handing over a letter cancelling the contract rather than responding to the Guild’s latest comprehensive proposal.
The union altered its contract offer to a four-year agreement. Rather than two payments the first year of $750 each, the Guild altered it to one payment of $1,500 this year, to cover the equivalent of first and second year raises. Employees would get one more $750 payment for 2010 and then a 3 percent raise in the contract’s final year.
The lump-sum payments would not affect the base pay.
The union also altered its proposal on outsourcing, bumping up to allowing the Company to outsource 3 percent of Guild work over the course of a year.
The Company offered one-time payments of $500 this year and next, but did not move at all on either the outsourcing or layoff proposals. While much attention has been paid to the seniority issue, the outsourcing proposal could have far-reaching implications as well.
If the Company was able to lay people off and outsource their work, many departments would be in jeopardy including people who take circulation and classified-ad calls, editorial and advertising artists, people in our business office, features writers and many others.
“This would be a disaster for the newspaper, its readers and advertisers,” Guild President Tim O’Brien said. “Customer service would sharply decline. Advertisers would face more billing problems. We’ve seen the problems Classified Plus has caused, and this would be greatly multiplied.”
The Guild already has experience with what happens when we agree to outsource jobs. The union agreed to allow drivers’ work to be outsourced, and the number of drivers has declined from 49 to five.