2nd-quarter furlough status report

Your Guild leadership team wanted to keep you in the loop regarding the company’s plans to implement second-quarter furloughs, a move that will impact the 200+ people in our bargaining unit.

The Guild has agreed to schedule a vote. We are currently in the process of negotiating the specific date. In a meeting on the sixth floor on Wednesday we proposed April 1, since we are legally obligated to give our parent organization, CWA/TNG, enough time (5 days) to ensure this contractual change (a pay cut) is in our best interests. The company has countered, saying it wants an answer from membership by March 30 or (and this is a direct quote from Human Resources to us, “we will proceed with layoff planning in order to achieve the full savings in the second quarter.”)

The Guild is not trying to stymie any of the company’s plans, and in fact, we have advised Dennis Ryerson that it would be a good idea for employees to start tentatively requesting their furlough days, so that supervisors can pencil in the schedules and get them implemented if the union members vote “yes.” But by threatening layoffs unless the company’s deadline was met, it effectively cut off any reasonable negotiation period … so today (Thursday) we asked the company again if they are serious about proceeding with layoffs — even if the outcome of the membership vote ends up being in favor of the second-quarter furloughs?

Additionally, here’s what the company has told us in response to costs and raises:

  1. Their goal is to achieve 1.92% of straight-time payroll in our unit as a result of the furloughs. (We have asked for a specific dollar amount of savings).
  2. The number of layoffs, in lieu of furlough participation, that will be required to achieve the 1.92% in savings is undetermined. This will depend on the compensation rates of the individuals selected the layoff. (We asked for specific scenarios and hard numbers).
  3. Only one of our covered employees will receive a two-week furlough. All other bargaining unit members will receive a one-week furlough.
  4. The company will continue to provide merit pay increases, per contract, in addition to step increases until a contract change is negotiated. (As you know, we’re in the midst of working out a new deal, with talks set to resume April 14-15.)
  5. If the Guild agrees to the furlough, the company is not interested in excluding any members of our bargaining unit from participation. (We asked that employees who make $12-per hour and under be excluded from the furlough due to their particular economic situation).

The vote we’ll put before membership, as it stands now, would likely be a simple 1) YES to furlough or 2) NO to furlough. We’re still trying to figure out times and location for early next week, so keep your calendar open!

Please keep in mind that union officers, in general, support more furloughs instead of layoffs or permanent wage cuts. But we have a responsibility to make sure our members’ rights are respected and that you have enough information to make an informed vote — not a rushed vote.

E-mail us with any questions and, as always, stay informed at indynewsguild.com

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