Over the last week, the Guild held its quarterly members meeting and two “update” meetings for those on later schedules.
Most of the discussion in those meetings surrounded the state of negotiations with the company and concerns about copy desk work rules.
Here is summary of what came out of those meetings:
Guild leaders reported that negotiations had gone well through the end of May, but that the company’s posture appeared to change at our session on June 12.
At our May 31 meeting, the company’s negotiators began presenting its estimates of the costs of some of our proposals. They also sought to clarify some issues and they asked for multiple meetings in June. Discussion continued to move toward a middle ground between our “fast track” proposals — an effort suggested by the company to try to come to quick resolution by focusing on big picture issues.
But on June 12, things seemed to take a step backward. The company handed us what it said was its “final” fast track proposal, under which the company’s position seemed to step backward on some issues and which failed to even address some of our key issues.
But instead of rejecting this offer outright, we made one more attempt to make it work. We crafted a final fast track counter proposal and delivered it to the company’s negotiations. We hope the company will really consider our last position. Our negotiators have repeated pushed hard to try to craft an offer that addresses the company’s key concerns while maintaining workable positions on the issues that are of highest importance to our members.
If the company rejects our counter offer, we will then return to traditional bargaining. All of our fast track proposals will be off the table and we will take the issues one at a time for new talks.
The possibility of this step backward raises the need for Guild members to ratchet up our unity and our mobilization efforts. We may be nearing the point at which together we will have to take our message outside of these walls and let the community know what we are asking so we can seek their support.
Internally, we need your participation in every possible way. We may need your volunteer efforts for organizing. We certainly will need you collective actions, such as wearing red and participating in the Guild as an active member.
On the copy desk front, our concern is high. We are hearing increasing reports that copy editors are stretched thin by inefficient universal desk processes and a shortfall in manpower for the workload.
Our members on the copy desk are working extremely hard to make the universal desk a success. They have gone above and beyond repeatedly to make things work. Managers ought to be hailing their professionalism.
But this situation cannot last forever. Processes must be smoothed out. Pressure must be reduced. Quality must be ensured.
The Guild is collecting a list of concerns and ideas for how to improve copy desk operations that we will present to senior managers. If you have ideas or comments, please contact any Guild officer.