By now, Guild employees have seen Kevin Riley’s e-mail concerning the NLRB decision. We’re disappointed, but the labor board’s decision was not a complete suprirse. Questionable decisions against labor unions have been a constant source of frustration under a board that was primarily appointed by this presidential administration.
The fact remains that the company’s actions on Dec. 6, 2007 were dishonest and beneath its self-professed values.
The company’s negotiators that day made a surprise final offer, agreed to the Guild’s request for time to study it before responding and 10 minutes later falsely announced to the newsroom that we had rejected the offer. It was the start of a run of sleazy tactics by the company, which went so low as to try to squelch the free speech of its own employees who were participating in community parade.
Nevermind that our whole business is built on that First Amendment right and that credibility, fairness and honesty are critical to the success of any newspaper or Web site. Sadly, the company seems willing to throw all its principles under the bus to achieve its business goals.
Case in point — we must correct Kevin Riley’s email, which states that “This is the third time in the last year the NLRB has found Guild charges against us to have no merit.” This is simply not true, and the company knows it.
We have filed three unfair labor practices in the past year. The first resulted in a settlement, in which the company agreed to not implement pay grades until we negotiated a contract or reached impasse. It was most certainly not dismissed due to a lack of merit.
We withdrew the second charge after we resolved much of it through bargaining. Again, it was not dismissed due to a lack of merit.
And yes, we’ve lost on the third one, including on appeal. Guild President Lou Grieco learned that through a phone call on Wednesday night, then picked up the letter at the Guild’s mailbox on Thursday.
But the NLRB did not dismiss either of the previous complaints, despite what company officials say. So the question is: why do they have to lie, particularly about something so easily disproven?
Of course, the company’s in-house counsel has already claimed to us that there was no settlement in the first case. That’s absolutely ridiculous, and would come as a complete surprise to our attorney and the Cleveland law firm that DDN retained to negotiate the settlement of that ULP. The in-house counsel now claims that the statement the company released to us was merely a clarifying statement, not a negotiated settlement. Right.
As part of the company’s case, it claimed that it had never implemented the pay grades. So the negotiated language for the settlement reads, in part, “There is in place no system of job classifications (other than the classifications specified in the 1986 contract) or of salary grades with caps applicable to DNG-represented employees. The company fully understands and commits that no new classification system, including but not limited to a system of salary grades with caps, may be implemented in the absence of a new collective bargaining agreement containing such conditions or after a valid impasse in bargaining is reached in accordance with NLRB law.”
The assertion that the company never implemented the pay grades was ludicrious, but we agreed to let them have that language to get them to stop using them. Even so, those of you who were informed about your pay grade level in late 2006, or may have had your pay capped because of it, well, the company now wants you to believe that was a figment of your imagination.
The in-house counsel is also part of the company’s bargaining team that now claims to have clearly heard the Guild’s team reject the company’s proposal on Dec. 6. They couldn’t have heard that, since it didn’t happen, regardless of what the company told the NLRB.
So the next question is: Considering the huge disparity in what the company says and the truth as we know it, why would it make any sense for us to accept a contract that doesn’t include a fair, NEUTRAL third-party arbitration system?
So company officials are feeling a bit high and mighty. Let them. Guild leadership has said all along that this fight will not be won in the courtroom, it will be won in the community. We have already made remarkable strides in informing the community of the key issues that separate us from a fair contract. In the upcoming months, you will see indications that the community does indeed support our efforts. You will soon be hearing more about the next phase of our mobilization effort.
As noted earlier, we will also continue to monitor the company’s performance on the imposed work rules, and we will continue to take proper legal actions, as we have done. It should be no surprise that company officials are already reneging on their own rules.