Gannett’s capacity for inflicting pain can still surprise and outrage.
Less than a week removed from the one-year anniversary of the layoffs of 21 of our coworkers (editors and Guild members) came a bombshell from corporate regarding the “moving” of page design to five hubs, a cost-cutting measure that will eventually lead to layoffs at the Indy Star. Design work here, we’re told, will be coordinated by a do-it-all [and presumably bottom-of-the-pay-scale] Gannett center based in Louisville, Ky. Star newsroom leaders Dennis Ryerson, Jenny Green and Scott Goldman briefed about a dozen page designers/graphic artists Tuesday, July 13. Guild President Tom Spalding and Guild secretary Emily Kuzniar (who is also a designer, and will be impacted by the changes) sat in on the meeting. Ryerson said his goal was to keep as much of a design “presence” at 307 N. Penn, as much as he could, and that he thought that our newspaper won’t be impacted until late in the process, but that some jobs would probably be lost. He senses that we’re a year or possibly two years away — but not off the hook — from another big blow to our newsroom.
The designers were encouraged to continue doing the kind of high-quality,one-of-a-kind award-winning work they’ve been doing despite the frustratingly pitiful amount of detail about Gannett’s plans here. We hope to show Gannett that the cookie-cutter approach to cost savings won’t work here, is short-sighted, and is illogical. And hopefully, the move toward consolidated centers at other papers flops miserably and they give up on the idea, or we are exempted from it, being too big of a metro for it to work.
From our perspective, the Indy News Guild contract DOES NOT ALLOW outsourcing and the company CANNOT lay off staff as a result of using non-union personnel to get design done. Gannett/Indy Star will have to negotiate that right after the current two-year contract expires. At the very earliest, that’s SEPT. 1, 2011, presuming that the next contract negotiations go smoothly.
We want to note that Gannett tried to get the right to outsource certain types of Star newsroom/building services jobs during negotiations in 2009 and we rejected and resisted that, and they relented. We ended up with the unpalatable wage freeze and 10% pay cut but we at least kept the contract in place that gives us power to fight.
Guild leaders have reached out to Jay Schmitz, our Indiana-based adviser, Bernie Lunzer, president of The Newspaper Guild, and D.C. attorney Kathy Mulvey, who helps locals like Indy determine when our contract has been violated and helps us process any grievances. Officially the Indy News Guild HAS NOT BEEN NOTIFIED by the company about the company’s outsourcing plans, but your Guild is being proactive. We hope to get guidance and hold a meeting soon for our members at the Musicians Hall to let them know what the Guild is going to do about this and to ask questions.
We will defend our turf.
In solidarity, the officers and stewards of Indy News Guild 34070