Last week, Dayton Newspaper Guild President Lou Grieco sent a certified letter to Brett Thurman, Human Resources manager and company counsel. A mailroom employee signed for the letter on Tuesday, so presumably Thurman has received it.
Guild leaders are posting the letter, which speaks for itself. If you have any questions about the letter, please talk to a member of the Guild’s executive board.
Sept. 22, 2008
Mr. Brett Thurman
Cox Ohio Publishing
1611 S. Main St.
Dayton, OH 45409
On September 3, 2008, you submitted to the Guild a “New Company Proposal” with the intent of re-opening bargaining. As you know, the National Labor Relations Board ruled, in February 2008, over the Guild’s objections, that the company’s December 2007 declaration of impasse and January 2008 implementation of posted terms was lawful. The Board found that wage issues and the content of an arbitration clause were the primary subjects which remained unresolved between the parties.
The Guild does not believe the “New Company Proposal” breaks the impasse, as defined by the Board. Indeed, instead of locating its wage and arbitration proposals somewhere between the parties’ final offers on these subjects, the company is proposing a regressive wage package and vague (or non-existent) arbitration provisions. This is true of both the peculiar “Option #1″ offer and the “Option #2″ offer, as described below:
This option allows for the possible reduction of Guild members’ pay
during the terms of the agreement, contains no required annual salary
increase (as in 3.02 of the company’s final offer) and leaves wage increases
wholly at the discretion of management. It further precludes overtime
payments for work over eight hours in a day, a protection contained in the
company’s final offer and includes a severance package of only one weeks
base pay for each year of service, when the company’s final offer provides
one weeks base pay for each six months of service. No seniority rights
ostensibly inhere in Option #1 except insofar as tenure might be used to
break a “tie,” as determined solely by the company. Finally, the offer
regarding arbitration still seems to seriously restrict the arbitrator’s and
a reviewing court’s authority, by limiting its exercise in accord with an
unidentified “Arbitrator Decision” form.
In its last contract offer, the company had offered an annual salary
increase of $1,200 in 2009 and 2010 for Level 1, 2 and 3 employees; now it
is offering only $500. Whereas the final contract offer included a
guarantee of an average 2% increase in income for full time employees
earning less than $60,000, the company is now offering only a 1% increase.
Whereas the company’s last offer guaranteed overtime to full-time employees
who work more than eight hours in a day in a five day work week or ten hours
in a day in four day work week, the company’s new offer includes no daily
overtime protection. The new proposal further eliminates the inclusion of
payment for accumulated personal days in employees’ severance package as
well as seniority based training rights and severance rights in favor of
unilateral company power to retain less senior personnel. It reduces
severance packages from one weeks pay per six months of service to one weeks pay per year of service. Finally, it contains no new offer whatsoever on
the pivotal arbitration issue.
In addition, neither option offered by the company makes any mention at all of any effort by the company to provide part-time employees with a reasonable, more affordable health insurance plan, which is still an important issue for the Guild. We understand that movement on this issue is not a prerequisite for breaking impasse, as defined by the Board, but we would be remiss if we did not remind the company of the importance of this issue.
The Guild takes its obligation to bargain very seriously and fully wishes to negotiate a contract that is both fair to its members and sensitive to legitimate company concerns. Given the essentially regressive nature of the “New Company Proposal,” however, particularly with respect to wages and arbitration, the Guild fails to see how the offer breaks the parties’ existing deadlock. Absent a proposal which, as a matter of law, bridges the existing divide between the parties, the Guild intends to exercise its right not to enter into negotiations.
Dayton Newspaper Guild