Category Archives: 2009 Contract Negotiations

Contract vote aftermath, a letter to the publisher

The following letter was sent out earlier this afternoon to the publisher, Michael Kane, which we wanted to share with you.

Michael Kane
publisher, Indianapolis Star

Aug. 26, 2009

Dear Mr. Kane,

The membership of Indianapolis News Guild 34070 voted 56-45 Tuesday to ratify a two-year contract with Gannett, running Aug. 30 through Aug. 29, 2011. The contract includes a 10% pay cut and no wage increases during the term.

We want to emphasize that the action by the membership of the Guild is a financial sacrifice meant to help the Star’s bottom line during this economic downturn. It is one of the highest permanent wage cuts of any newspaper in the country. It is a sacrifice that our unit (newsroom/building services) alone is bearing, as management and other non-union personnel have not been asked for the same sweeping, universal cut; our vote will save the company an estimated $2 million in payroll over the next two years.

Long-term, we expect the company to be aware of this sacrifice when the economy improves. Short-term, we expect the company to spare this unit should Gannett need to continue to cut costs.

As members’ pay is cut 10%, the Guild will accordingly reduce dues by a similar amount. The Guild requests that the company allow unit members enrolled in the company health care plan to have their premiums lowered immediately if their new hourly wage drops them down a level; premiums, as you know, are based on four “tiers” and some Guild members may drop from tier “C” to “B” or from “B” to “A,” for example. It is not only fair, but the right thing to do, in our opinion.

The new contract gives you flexibility to assign our team of journalists to work on products that we are not accustomed to working, including the possibility of advertorial. Out of a concern for ethics, we request that you never exercise that damaging option for ANY Guild-covered employees.

Finally, now that bargaining is over, the Guild hopes the company will allow Editor Dennis Ryerson to address the aftermath of this new contract with its employees, who are bewildered, upset and depressed over the economic hardship they now face. That hardship was forced on them to fulfill a company mandate that was never satisfactorily explained. They have many questions about why the Indy Star needed to improve its profitability at the expense of only a fifth of its staff.

They feel guilty that the company tied an unrelated arbitration to contract talks and that they were forced to “take sides” and sacrifice 7 former co-workers to save their own jobs.

Thank you for reading.

Sincerely,

Tom Spalding, president
Indianapolis News Guild 34070
with the contract bargaining team and officers

cc: James Keough, Dennis Ryerson, Jay Schmitz, Bernie Lunzer

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Filed under 2009 Contract Negotiations

2-year contract passes 56-45

The membership of Indianapolis News Guild 34070 voted 56-45 to ratify a contract with Gannett. Members voted for a 2-year contract that takes effect Aug. 30 through Aug. 29, 2011. The contract includes a 10% pay cut and no wage increases during the term of the contract. The vote today also provides a settlement to 7 Star employees laid off in December 2008. Eighty-six percent of eligible voters cast ballots.

The action by the membership of the Guild is a financial sacrifice meant to help the Star’s bottom line during this economic downturn. It is a sacrifice that we alone are bearing, as management and other non-union personnel have not been asked to make this sacrifice.

We expect the company to be aware of this sacrifice when the economy improves.

We will soon provide the new contract to members, and we urge members to work that contract to the letter. No more free overtime.

Thanks everyone for your support over the past nine months.

Indy News Guild bargaining team

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Contract vote today

The Indianapolis News Guild vote will be held from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. today. We will count absentee and in-person votes and expect to have an answer by 8 p.m. tonight.The agreement, if ratified, would apply to about 170 hourly workers covered by the Indianapolis News Guild Local 34070, which includes reporters, photographers, librarians, copy editors, clerks; and to 17 maintenance workers also covered by the contract.

THE DEAL: The Guild negotiations committee, after nearly 10 months of off-and-on contract talks, reached a tentative agreement on a two-year contract that we agreed on Aug. 7 to take to duespayers for a vote on Aug. 25. It is important to emphasize that we feel that it is the “best deal” that could be reached at this time. It isn’t a great package, but it’s the one that does the least amount of damage.

PLEASE DO YOUR PART AND VOTE! AND SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT GETTING TO THE POLL LOCATION, 325 N. Delaware, across from the Star’ parking garage in Downtown Indy!

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Filed under 2009 Contract Negotiations, Events/Meetings

Tentative contract agreement reached

The Indianapolis News Guild local 34070 today reached a tentative agreement with representatives of Gannett/The Indianapolis Star that would include a 10% permanent pay cut effective Aug. 30, 2009 that would apply to all roughly 185 employees covered by our unit.

That two-year agreement is subject to a ratification vote by duespayers that is scheduled for noon-to-6 p.m. on Aug. 25 (with absentee balloting allowed for anyone who cannot participate in person). Additional details will come early next week, once the company provides our union with its final proposal. We also urge you to attend one of two information sessions [scheduled for 2-to-4 p.m. on Aug. 16 and Aug. 23] so you can understand the ramifications of a “yes” vote versus a “no” vote on the agreement. All info sessions and the election will be at the Musicians Hall, 325 N. Delaware St.

We thank Conrad Bowling, mediator, Indianapolis Field Office, federal mediation and conciliation service, for his assistance in bargaining over the past two days.

E-mail Tom Spalding at indystar68@yahoo.com or Shari Rudavsky at srudavsky@msn.com for an absentee ballot.

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Contract negotiations resume Thursday, Friday

The Indy News Guild is getting ready to head back to the bargaining table with Gannett management this Thursday and Friday. We have been able to partially reconstitute our team and get everyone up to speed for the sessions. The sessions will include a federal mediator whose role, we hope, will be to guide us toward a fair contract — and take that contract proposal to membership for an eventual vote.

In the meantime, to help the team fully understand the wishes of our layoff-hammered unit, we put together a confidential, internal-use-only 10-question online survey that went to duespayers. [If you are a duespayer and this is news to you, email us back at this address so we can get your input.]

As a side note, we have contacted the National Labor Relations Board in Indianapolis and made an unfair labor practice charge against Gannett. It is our contention that the company prematurely submitted to us a “last, best and final offer” as a punitive action to our refusing to meet on certain days.

We will keep you posted. Please stay involved. And be sure to wear your lanyards, or red, on Thursday and Friday!

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