As we are sure many of you did today, we on the bargaining committee read Kevin Riley’s message about negotiations with great interest.
We wish we could be as optimistic about the current state of negotiations as the company seems to be. Granted, we have made a lot of significant progress on a lot of issues and we have a great number of tentative agreements that overall are of real benefit to employees and management. Those agreements were the result of cooperative bargaining between the company and the Guild.
However, on the last few issues, the company has been very unwilling to seek mutually acceptable compromises. If Riley is correct in his belief that we are close to an agreement, the company will be making a proposal that will make some very significant moves on the remaining issues. As of our last meeting we were apart on the following issues: Annual wage increases, redlining, part-time health care, arbitration, elimination of fleet vehicles and some details relating to sick time.
These are the positions that troubled the Guild the most, from the last proposal we received from the company:
–Their negotiators are still demanding the right to redline up to a third of editorial workers, with the company having the right to freeze their base pay permanently.
–They apparently want to put off doing anything about part-timer health insurance because, well, it’s just too hard. This despite the fact that the Guild went out and found a union-affiliated plan that would provide affordable coverage if the company would make only a moderate raise in its very modest contribution toward part-time health insurance.
–They insist on arbitration that would rig the process completely in favor of the company. This would make our contract unenforceable, nullifying parts of the contract that protect your rights. The international Guild says it has never seen such draconian arbitration rules as those proposed by the company.
–On the elimination of the fleet cars, they’ve told us they feel that it’s their right to transfer all of the company’s news reporting transportation costs to us because they have now given us “free parking” in trade.
–To help us with the cost of part-time health care, mitigate our costs for the elimination of the fleet and make up for a drastic cut in sick leave, the company is willing to give us $1,000. Not per person. Total. For all of those issues, for 147 members. That’s $6.80 per person. They might as well have offered us a dime.
–They have agreed to a night differential pay allowance for copy editors who worked at the Dayton Daily News prior to May of 2007 but refuse to extend any night differential pay to those who transferred from the Southwest Group or Springfield.
So, pardon us if we are skeptical about the company’s view of how close we are to completing a deal. If they do indeed make positive moves on these critical issues, we will then be looking at taking a complete, fair tentative agreement to Guild members for a vote. But barring a big shift in the company’s posture, the Guild bargaining team does not anticipate an agreement will be in place before Jan. 1. We are open to possibilities, but that all depends on the company coming forward with substantive proposals that truly address the issues.
On a related note, at the request of the company negotiators, the Guild has given the company guidance on pay raises for 2008.
It is not the Guild’s desire to hold up raises for next year. Our position, which we have made clear to the company, is that the company should implement merit raises in accordance with the company’s long-standing past practices. Under the settlement reached earlier this year regarding an unfair labor practice the Guild filed against the company that was resolved in May, the company may not institute a system of pay grades, redlining, cash payments in lieu of regular base increases or any other system not in accord with the prior practices of merit-based pay increases.
Should the company’s next proposal resemble their other proposals, we’ll have two choices: we can accept what most of us think is an absolutely terrible deal which would provide us with the worst working conditions any of us can remember, or we can continue to put pressure on the company to bargain fairly to resolve these last remaining issues.
And if we’re going to put pressure on the company, we need all of you involved. With apologies to JFK: Ask not what our union can do for you, but ask what you can do for our union — because if the company gets its way, the union won’t be able to do much for you at all.
So get involved. Some of you already are, but everyone needs to step up.
Starting this week we will be scaling up our external campaign to inform the community about our struggle to get fair play from the Dayton Daily News at the bargaining table. Please do your part. See one of our mobilization squad captains to find out what role you can play — large or small — to help the cause.
The squad captains are:
Stephanie Gottschlich — Shock and Awe
Ben Sutherly — Money Talks
Ken McCall –Spin Doctors
Mark McGregor — Peeps
Kelli Wynn — Home Front
These groups are meeting regularly, working on efforts to convince the company to play fair.
Again, you will be hearing more from us about upcoming internal and external actions in the next few days. Contact Guild executive board members with any questions.