The Indy News Guild filed a grievance with the company Dec. 12 over the Dec. 3 layoffs of 14 employees represented by the Guild. Our position is that the company, by its own admission — and not including the four workers who volunteered to be laid off – disregarded the seniority provisions of the contract, just as it did in August during the prior round of layoffs.
The company, as expected, denied our grievance. Led by our advisers from the Communications Workers of America/The Newspaper Guild, we are in the process of setting an arbitration date.
The Guild is not demanding that the Star follow a strict, across-the-board “last-hired, first-fired” policy, but demanding it follow the intent of the contract – deferring to seniority. What they did in December was use a random, hodgepodge approach – targeting experienced reporters and copy editors working on the features section, the zones copy desk and for the North Zone, then reassigning others to do that work, while retaining less experienced reporters and copy editors doing the same work on other sections as the senior employees who were laid off. That’s no security for anyone given the financial challenges facing Gannett.
We feel that the newsroom will again be hit by layoffs in 2009, but that’s just a guess. The Guild promises to carry on the good fight. As for those who were laid off, we’ve tried to keep in contact via e-mail and reached out with Kroger gift certificates. Let us know of any needs; there are many, and many of us want to step in when things get rough, so don’t hesitate to ask. We have strength in numbers and a great communication system. We promise to stay in touch.