Contract vote back on

The bargaining committee of Indianapolis News Guild Local 34070 has agreed to put Gannett’s two-year contract offer (dated 4-15-09) to our membership for a vote.

The committee initially rejected that offer, and at a meeting Thursday between the Guild and Indy Star reps, little progress was made to improve any of the provisions in the company’s proposal from April. However, the company made a small concession on the wording of the flexibility language (i.e. who will and who won’t have to handle ‘advertorial’ products in the future) and clarified the potential impact of new seniority language. Our representative from the international Newspaper Guild, Jay Schmitz, who represents us at the bargaining table and has helped negotiate several of our most recent contracts with the Star, advised us to fulfill our original commitment to the company to take this proposal to our full membership for a vote.

The date has not been set, but that vote will be held within the coming weeks. You will be notified by mail. We are hoping for 100 percent participation from duespayers at the time of the election.

We’ll soon get you a working copy so you can see what you’ll be voting on, but here are the biggest concerns:

  • A 12 percent pay cut (8 percent on July 1 and 4 percent more on Oct. 1)
  • No pay increases for the two-year term of the contract.
  • No guarantee there will not be more layoffs despite these pay concessions.
  • No written guarantee there will not be more furloughs despite the pay cut.
  • Dropping our arbitration that involves 7 co-workers ousted Dec. 3.

We reiterated to the company that the bargaining committee still cannot recommend or endorse this package. We also told the company about the mixed messages we have received in recent weeks regarding the financial state of the Star (that our newspaper remains more profitable than Gannett as a whole according to a recent letter to the employees from new publisher Michael Kane), and that economically speaking, much less of a sacrifice is being asked of newspaper Guilds that are in much bigger trouble than Gannett. We suggested ways their proposal could pass; they prefer to stay as-is.

So be it.

We expect to accomplish several things with this vote. It will satisfy the company’s desire to have the members vote on this proposal, despite our warnings there is little chance it will be approved. We expect it to show the company that Guild members are united in demanding a fair contract. This vote will help the contract negotiating committee at the bargaining table.

With our futures at stake, we promise to be proactive and solution-minded, with info sessions to come.


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Filed under 2009 Contract Negotiations

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