The Indianapolis News Guild is sad to inform you that Gannett is now seeking to cut the pay of newsroom and building services employees by 15 percent. The lawyer for the company provided us with a one-page “supplemental” proposal this afternoon that he said would implement this uniform salary reduction either 1) at the time we reach a new contract with the company, or 2) at the time both sides reach an impasse and cease talks.
This was a disappointing move, given that we thought the company’s bargaining team was starting to embrace the concept of negotiating instead of dictating. In fact, we believe the company’s actions at the table today raise the specter of regressive and bad-faith bargaining.
Company lawyer Bill Behan said Gannett expects to save $1.5 million annually by cutting salaries across the board within the union. He said the Indianapolis Star is “viable” and to continue to make it viable, the company must cut its expenses in light of the economic slowdown that is hurting ad revenue.
The Guild did not respond to the proposal immediately; we asked for financial information so we can confirm whether the company’s finances are as dire as claimed. Behan declined to disclose those numbers. He also declined to say whether this 15 percent proposal is aimed exclusively at the 200+ members of our bargaining unit (newsroom and building services) or would also apply to other employees at the Star, including management. And, although we have no direct control over health care costs, we have asked if the company will be adjusting/reducing premiums, as there are four “tiers” that are tied to your annual salary.
Despite this setback, the Indy News Guild believes it is far from an impasse. We were progressing on the matter of layoff language – i.e. how the company uses seniority when it determines who to lay off in such a scenario. The Guild believes it has plenty to talk about at the bargaining table and will continue to try to negotiate a fair contract with the company.
Nothing is going to happen immediately. We return to the bargaining table in mid-April, and we’ll again be calling a membership meeting soon to discuss strategy and our options. As always, stay tuned to this Web site for background and shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.