Category Archives: 2009 Contract Negotiations

Absentee ballots going fast for 6/30 contract vote

The Indianapolis Newspaper Guild is reminding you to request an absentee ballot if you aren’t sure you’ll be here for the JUNE 30 vote — that’s two weeks from today. [So far we’ve sent out 13]. You’ve only got a week until the deadline to request a ballot, so e-mail Tom Spalding at indystar68@yahoo.com to get yours delivered to you. We want 100% turnout. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to make your voice heard! And for non-duespayers, this is a GREAT time to sign up. E-mail Tom at the same address. In solidarity, the News Guild contract team.

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Vote set for June 30 on proposed contract

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. Continue reading

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Guild officers meeting to select information session, contract vote date

Guild officers and stewards will be meeting at 12:30 p.m. this Wednesday at the Musicians Hall to pick a suitable date to hold an “information session” as well as an election. We also have to establish how we’ll mail out absentee ballots to duespayers, since the election regarding Gannett’s two-year contract offer will likely be scheduled around the busy July 4 holiday, when several people will be out of town. All Guild officers are moving as swiftly but carefully as we can, given some legal requirements and logistical hurdles. You should know that the Guild crafted and assembled a 35-page contract proposal that, as of today, is now in the company’s hands. We want to ensure there are no misunderstandings prior to a vote.

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Contract vote back on

The bargaining committee of Indianapolis News Guild Local 34070 has agreed to put Gannett’s two-year contract offer (dated 4-15-09) to our membership for a vote.

The committee initially rejected that offer, and at a meeting Thursday between the Guild and Indy Star reps, little progress was made to improve any of the provisions in the company’s proposal from April. However, the company made a small concession on the wording of the flexibility language (i.e. who will and who won’t have to handle ‘advertorial’ products in the future) and clarified the potential impact of new seniority language. Our representative from the international Newspaper Guild, Jay Schmitz, who represents us at the bargaining table and has helped negotiate several of our most recent contracts with the Star, advised us to fulfill our original commitment to the company to take this proposal to our full membership for a vote.

The date has not been set, but that vote will be held within the coming weeks. You will be notified by mail. We are hoping for 100 percent participation from duespayers at the time of the election.

We’ll soon get you a working copy so you can see what you’ll be voting on, but here are the biggest concerns:

  • A 12 percent pay cut (8 percent on July 1 and 4 percent more on Oct. 1)
  • No pay increases for the two-year term of the contract.
  • No guarantee there will not be more layoffs despite these pay concessions.
  • No written guarantee there will not be more furloughs despite the pay cut.
  • Dropping our arbitration that involves 7 co-workers ousted Dec. 3.

We reiterated to the company that the bargaining committee still cannot recommend or endorse this package. We also told the company about the mixed messages we have received in recent weeks regarding the financial state of the Star (that our newspaper remains more profitable than Gannett as a whole according to a recent letter to the employees from new publisher Michael Kane), and that economically speaking, much less of a sacrifice is being asked of newspaper Guilds that are in much bigger trouble than Gannett. We suggested ways their proposal could pass; they prefer to stay as-is.

So be it.

We expect to accomplish several things with this vote. It will satisfy the company’s desire to have the members vote on this proposal, despite our warnings there is little chance it will be approved. We expect it to show the company that Guild members are united in demanding a fair contract. This vote will help the contract negotiating committee at the bargaining table.

With our futures at stake, we promise to be proactive and solution-minded, with info sessions to come.

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Bargaining resumes Thursday, how you can help

The Indy News Guild bargaining committee is returning to the table from 1 to 4 pm, May 28 (Thursday) as the company will hear us out in terms of structuring a counter proposal to their most recent offer (an offer that we ultimately rejected because of the ambiguous nature regarding ethics and advertorial). We’re meeting at the musicians hall at 11 am, and anyone who wants to sit in and listen is welcome to do so.

Over 5 weeks have passed since our last meeting with the company; we hope to find some common ground with Gannett and get a deal in front of you for a vote. We are negotiating in good faith. We’ll certainly keep you posted, and background as always is at indynewsguild.com.

Here are ways we can help you — show support by wearing your lanyards, use your guild pens, or wear anything else you have on Thursday that is BRIGHT RED. We’ve got extra pens and lanyards on Tom Spalding’s desk in the NW corner of the newsroom, help yourself.

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No contract vote planned

This afternoon, the bargaining committee of Indianapolis News Guild 34070 voted 9-0 to NOT take Gannett’s two-year contract offer, dated 4-15-09, to our membership for a vote at this time. We informed the company that our agreement to hold an election on their proposal was contingent upon the Guild reaching an understanding about how the flexibility language (i.e. advertorial) would be applied. This did not occur on 5-7-09, when Gannett informed the Guild that it would not modify that part of the package.

Simply put, the Guild wanted an ironclad guarantee that protects information center (i.e newsroom) employees from being used to work on advertising content. We didn’t get it.

The Guild told the company that we stand ready to sit down and discuss modifications to their proposal, and that we have ideas, based on weeks of group and individual discussions we have had with membership, as well as discussions with our international advisors, on how we can both achieve a deal that meets both of our objectives.

Beyond that issue, those of us doing labor negotiations felt like, in talking to duespayers, that the conditions in the proposal as outlined on indynewsguild.com (a 12% pay cut, etc.) were too harsh — containing sacrifices to pay, to ethics, and to the aspects of the contract that we hold dear, including seniority. We said “no” to the company because we felt the membership was telling us “no.” We are hoping that the company will actually sit down and make a few tweaks to their 4-15-09 proposal; if you have suggestions as to what the news and building services staff can live with, please let us know.

Repeating: There will be no vote held, at this time.

We appreciate your support, feedback and solidarity. We’re working to schedule another info session with you later this month.

— Tom Spalding, president

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Information session Sunday, April 19

The Indy News Guild will host the first of several informational meetings related to Gannett’s latest contract proposal this Sunday, April 19, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Musicians Hall, 325 N. Delaware St. across the street from The Star parking garage.

Attendance is not mandatory, and NO VOTE will occur at this particular meeting. However, it is a fact-finding and fact-providing mission. We believe the company is well aware of the reaction to their planned 12% pay cut and other changes that affect workplace conditions. Let’s not let up.

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