The Indianapolis Newspaper Guild today officially scheduled a membership vote for Tuesday, June 30, on the company’s proposal for a two-year contract. Officers this afternoon mailed out details of the voting process to all Guild duespayers. We will be taking absentee ballots by mail, so even if you cannot be here in person you can get your say.
It’s important, as you educate yourself on the 35-page proposal over the next 2-1/2 weeks, that you understand this is entirely management’s proposal. The Guild negotiating committee mitigated several concerns, but committee members still cannot endorse this contract proposal.
You should also know that the company has told us repeatedly that if the Guild membership rejects this proposal, future company offers are not going to get any better. The Guild bargaining committee, however, believes that improvements can be made that would make the package better and more likely to be acceptable to membership, and yet still acceptable to the company. Therefore, if the membership votes “no” we stand ready to return to the bargaining table. We also have twice requested info on the company’s financial condition so that membership can make an informed decision on the financial sacrifices we are being asked to make. The company has yet to share this information.
Here’s a round-up of the significant changes:
- Permanent pay cut of 12 percent (8 percent cut July 1, 4 percent cut Oct. 1) for all Guild-represented employees.
- Employees whose pay would drop below the federal minimum wage with a 12 percent pay cut will be reduced only to the federal minimum wage.
- No pay increases for the term of the contract (two years from date of signing.)
- Minimum rates of pay steps remain in the contract but are reduced 12 percent and go dormant. Employees in the steps will not receive their automatic step increases during the term of the contract.
- Merit pool language remains in the contract but goes dormant. No merit pay increases for Guild-represented employees for the term of the contract.
- Regarding advertorial content, adds language to allow the Publisher flexibility to assign Guild members “traditional and non-traditional tasks.” Requires the Publisher to “be cognizant of and sensitive to its policy relating to ethics and conflicts of interest.” Side letter to the contract states in part, “the parties are in agreement that the Company’s current ethics policy does not allow editorial employees to produce advertorial copy.”
- In the event of layoffs, the company will consider seniority as the first factor along with individual skills and abilities and an employee’s performance and disciplinary history. The Guild gives up the right to grieve or seek arbitration on individual layoffs. We do have the right to grieve and arbitrate if the company ignores seniority or fails to use the criteria properly overall.
- Positions currently covered by the Guild contract (Graphics/Design: Day Design Editor, Night Design Editor; Digital Central, Calendar Editor) become exempt from all provisions of the contract.
- 10 positions become exempt from the overtime provision but still are covered by all other provisions of the contract (Cartoonist, Sports Columnist, Public Service Columnist, Conversations Central Columnist, On The Town Columnist, IU Sports Beat, Motor Sports Beat, Pacers Beat, Colts Beat, Sports Special Projects Beat.)
- On roundtrips of 100 miles or more, if an employee requests to use his/her own car rather than a company vehicle, the company will reimburse for actual fuel expenses only rather than the company’s fixed mileage rate.
- The paraprofessional job designation will cover calendar clerks, production liaisons and similar positions. Paraprofessionals may write stories of an uncomplicated nature.
- Changes the length of time the company has to give another day off to employees whose regular day off falls on a holiday from two weeks to up to 27 days.
- In addition to these contract changes: The Guild must withdraw its arbitration against the company on behalf of seven members laid off in December, 2008. The arbitration is scheduled to be heard July 28.
All other provisions of the current contract are unchanged.
We’ll hold information sessions June 20 and June 28. Stay positive. Be proactive. Urge negotiation, not dictation!
In solidarity, the Indy News Guild officers and stewards