Star Management Negotiates by Threats

Management’s latest contract proposal to the Guild has come with a threat — agree to their demands to outsource the Copy Editing work and abandon our proposals or they’ll lay off five more people.

That’s right, the Company now says there are five (5) new jobs in jeopardy in addition to those of five (5) copy editors. What those additional jobs are isn’t clear.

Ronnie Ramos outlined the ultimatum in an email Friday, saying the Copy Desk must be gone by Nov. 30. He made it sound like the Star was being gracious last month when it cut only two producers and proposed to eliminate copy editors.

Yes, this latest proposal has a “we’ll-shoot-the-hostages” mentality to it. In the opinion of your bargaining team, it is a ridiculous non-starter. But our opinions matter little. What matters more is what YOU are willing to do about. To that end, we’ve called an emergency Guild Members meeting Wednesday night.

This threat comes after a series of email exchanges between Guild negotiator Lou Grieco and Gannett lawyer John Fenix. The two sides haven’t met face to face since Oct. 26.

The Guild’s most recent proposal would have given in on the outsourcing of the Copy Editing work but with an enhanced severance for the copy editors: Extending their pay and health insurance equal to 2 weeks per year of a worker’s service, plus an additional six (6) weeks; up to a maximum 52 weeks; the minimum severance would be 12 weeks.

In addition, the Guild proposed 3 percent a year across-the-board pay raises for remaining employees for the next three years, a minimum wage of $15 an hour (primarily affecting custodians) and a continuation of the health insurance arrangement with the UFW.

The Star rejected most of that.

The Star would agree to no guaranteed pay raises. They want to fund health insurance at a rate less than what’s being offered to other employees. And while they would abide by the current contract’s layoff provisions (1 week of severance per year of service) they would offer no severance enhancements beyond six (6) months of COBRA and setting a floor of 12 weeks as the minimum severance.

If this wasn’t dismal enough, The Star added a poison pill — a clause that would enable either side to re-open negotiations at any time during the 2-year life of the contract.

Essentially, it renders a contract meaningless.

There are ways we can push back against ultimatums. There are ways we can make noise. We’ll discuss these on Wednesday night and in the days ahead.



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