Response to pay freeze being lifted

A number of Guild members have had questions since Star publisher Michael Kane on March 1 forwarded the message from Bob Dickey, president of Gannett’s U.S. Community Publishing Division, regarding the end of the company-wide pay freeze. In response to these questions, the Guild contacted Star editor Dennis Ryerson and HR vice president James Keough today to see if the end of the pay freeze applied to Guild-covered employees. As you know, our current contract includes a pay freeze for the length of its term, which runs through August 30, 2011. Both of them indicated in an e-mail to Guild president Tom Spalding that the pay freeze would continue for Guild-covered employees.

Guild members voluntarily made pay concessions last year in an effort to help the company through a difficult time. Instead of insisting the terms of our contract be fulfilled as agreed to by the company, Guild members twice agreed to accept one-week furloughs without receiving any concessions from the company. In 2009, we also agreed to a two-year contract that cut wages 10% and called for a pay freeze for the length of its term.

It’s important for the members to know that the “wage freeze”  that was inbedded into the contract was NOT something we sought, nor endorsed; on multiple occasions during negotiations, we requested there be a “snapback provision” in case financial conditions improved, but we were rejected. It is our belief there is NOTHING that prevents the Star from temporarily altering language in the contract that would allow our members to be eligible for merit pay to reward great performance from now through August 2011. NOTHING. We altered language in the previous deal to OK the two furloughs. We helped the company during its crisis; now we want to share in the prosperity.

Here was our proposal sent tonight to Dennis and James.

“The Indy News Guild is willing to revise the language in the contract dated Aug. 30, 2009 to say that merit increases may be made at the company’s discretion for the term of this agreement, instead of what it says now, that all wages will be frozen through Aug. 30, 2011. We also suggest a side letter that says the parties agree that effective April 1 (or the date when non-union employees become eligible) and for the remainder of the current contract, Guild employees would be eligible for merit raises at the company’s discretion. This eligibility would be subject to a return to the wage freeze if the non-union employees were also returned to a freeze during the remainder of the agreement.”

We will keep you posted on their answer.

The officers and stewards of Indy News Guild 34070

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