Category Archives: Events/Meetings

Reaction to outsourcing of Indianapolis Star design desk work

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

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Filed under Events/Meetings, Layoffs/Buyouts

Indy News Guild 34070 announces officer team for 2010-13

Congratulations to the new slate of officers of the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild, who were elected today. The team of five ran unopposed. The volunteer, unpaid three-year terms begin July 1. Our responsibility is to represent the newsroom and building services units of The Indianapolis Star. Our primary goals are: Day-to-day advocacy of our 175 members; protect jobs; protect the contract; and, in 2011, restore wages lost last year when (under duress from Gannett) the union voted to accept a two-year contract that included a 10% pay cut and pay freeze.

The officeholders are:

  • Tom Spalding, president
  • Adam Yates, 1st vice president
  • Tania Lopez, 2nd vice president
  • Geoff Ooley, treasurer
  • Emily Kuzniar, secretary

At this time, the officers want to thank outgoing vice presidents Vic Ryckaert and DuJuan Carpenter for their terms of service, 2007-10. We’ll have more details in our next print Inkling due out in coming weeks.

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Make your voice heard / be a union officeholder!

Wednesday, June 30 is “election day” for the Indy News Guild 34070. Officeholders run every 3 years for five positions per our bylaws – president, two vice presidents, secretary and treasurer.

This is an all-volunteer gig – and a busy one.  Those who are elected to become your voice at work [terms run July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2013] face another contract negotiation with Gannett, ongoing grievances – such as our complaint about the USA Today baseball page – and unseen day-to-day labor issues as they crop up. You don’t need any experience to run. It’s a learn-as-you-go job, and CWA-TNG conducts periodic training. There are even paid-for travel opportunities for union conferences.

Maybe you are upset with the style or methods of the current union leadership, how the 10%-pay-cut/vote went down last fall, etc. If so, this is a chance for you to get involved and take our 175-member organization in a new direction. All that’s required is to be a duespayer, or you can become one instantly.  E-mail your name and desired position to metro reporter Dan McFeely (former Guild president) who has been appointed to serve as supervisor of our election committee.  He is at crhpdan@gmail.com. Please respond to Dan by June 10. We’ll let you know the candidates by mid-June and whether voting will be necessary.

Thanks for reading — and for your continued support.

The officers and stewards of Indy News Guild

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New grievance filed, Kronos, callback language, differential, election, vacation requests

New grievance filed
We officially notified the Star on April 19 that the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild, TNG-CWA 34070, is filing a grievance over the outsourcing of work performed by our members in the news room in violation of the contract. On Monday, April 5, The Star began using a page of baseball content that is produced by USA Today. This is work that previously has been done by page designers, copy editors and paraprofessionals represented by The Guild. This is a violation of the contract as stated on Page 1, “Jurisdiction of the Guild, Local No. 34070, shall include all work presently performed by the unit covered by this contract. Performance of this work … shall be assigned to employees of the Employer covered by this contract, provided that employees exempt from the bargaining unit pursuant to Article I below may perform bargaining unit work.”

The Guild MUST step in and defend our jobs — otherwise “free” and preproduced copy makes its way into the paper, not unlike the “News From You” stuff that runs in our zones sections. We hope everyone will read a Gannett blog piece on the arrangement between Gannett’s six N.J. newspapers and an employee of the New Jersey Devils who is providing coverage of the team for the newspapers. That may be a coup for the pro hockey team, says The New York Times, but it “puts the papers in the odd position of publishing news coverage supplied by the entity being covered.”

Kronos is coming
The Guild told the company today that it bregrudgingly accepts the implementation of the Kronos “fingerprint representation” scanner, which will be put into use in the coming months (likely June) to keep track of employees’ work hours. This will replace the time cards employees currently fill out and submit every two weeks. The company says this system cuts the amount of people and time required to keep track of employees’ work time and issue paychecks. The company’s human resources department and Star editor Dennis Ryerson have said it will take about 45 days for employees to get used to the system and then it functions without problems. After several meetings with the company, the Guild asked that all reporters, and all newsroom employees, who don’t have a set schedule in the Downtown office, be exempted from being required to use the Kronos system. (Those who don’t get OT are already exempted.) That request was rejected. About 100 IC folk will have to begin to “register” themselves in coming days to get inputted into the system. Zones and photogs are some that won’t have to fingerscan but will still have to record their hours in the new system. The Guild has asked editor Dennis Ryerson to have managers hold department meetings to address individual concerns and we’ve asked HR to ensure that e-records that contain personal details be deleted promptly to protect privacy. Those are matters under advisement. And, for better or for worse, all of us in the unit are going to be paid for all the time we put in the job.

Callback language, differential
Although the company has challenged a grievance filed by the Guild and related to the July 2009 layoffs, there is a provision in the contract related to layoffs that requires the company to give those who were laid off first preference for two years for any new jobs. The contract is not specific on the issue of a guaranteed rehire, and the Guild and the company have agreed on language for a call-back procedure. The Guild and the company also agreed to language that will set up a flat $20 per shift differential to be paid to those Guild-represented employees who fill in regularly in managers’ timeslots starting May 1.

Another election
Officers (five of them) are selected by the News Guild every three years, per bylaws, for three-year, unpaid terms. Your choice to become involved is certainly encouraged, and there are many rewards that come with being an officer — leadership, a chance to assist your coworkers, and the forum to make the workplace better. All five spots are “up” July 1, and we could really use your help — this is your union. Representation is especially welcome from photographers and building services, in particular. Anyone interested in finding out more about becoming a Guild officer should contact any of the Guild officers by June 9 — that’s 21 days prior to the June 30 election, as per our bylaws.

Vacation requests
According to the contract (Article VII, Section 2), vacation requests filed by April 1 should be approved or rejected by April 15. After that, supervisors have two weeks after a vacation or PL day request has been made to inform employees if their request has been approved. If you made your request before April 1 and have not been told whether your request has been approved, or if you make a request and are not told within two weeks, contract a Guild officer or steward.

As always, tune into indynewsguild.com for the latest.

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Filed under Events/Meetings, General, Grievances/Arbitration, Ongoing Issues

Meeting reminder (2PM Tuesday); A letter to Gannett; A breach of Star ethics

Guild quarterly meeting: Our next meeting is scheduled for 2pm -245 p.m. March 30 [Tuesday] at the Musicians Hall, 325 N. Delaware St., if you want to address concerns, gripe about issues in the newsroom or just get your frustrations off your chest in a safe, collegial environment. It is NOT mandatory.

Kronos:
We’re still waiting to hear back from the company re: our objections.

New Ethics Breach:
The Indy News Guild officers and stewards have asked Star editorial NOT to allow any of our journalists’ work to be reused without their authorization as part of any in-house marketing or advertising campaign. This happened with disastrous results last week.

Features reporter TJ Banes wrote on summer camps in January 2007 — only to have the story “repurposed” and used with her byline as part of a metro section “summer camp guide” that was labeled a “special advertising feature” in the print Star metro section Tuesday, March 23, 2010.

The story and two photos were used without the writer’s or photographer’s knowledge and the content was manipulated to make it appear to be current. This wasn’t a case of an article being simply reprinted. It was altered to mislead readers in a way that could damage this reporter’s credibility with the sources of the original story. It was an embarrassment to the ethical standards the Indy News Guild has been pushing Star management to uphold since 2006, when the company first presented the idea of having journalists produce and edit so-called “advertorial” content.

The summer camp article is a glaring example of why the Guild has raised objections to the unit’s work being repurposed in this manner. It allows another department — marketing, custom content, momslikeme or whomever — to use our work in such a careless and unprofessional fashion that it reflects badly upon the journalism produced by those in the Star newsroom. Making it worse (in the Guild’s opinion) is that the tease to the “guide” above the Indianapolis Star masthead on A1 gave no indication this was an advertising product, conveying the impression that the summer camp material was produced by journalists. Look at the section and it is labeled “special advertising feature” in small type.

The Guild has asked for a meeting with management to discuss this issue. The Guild wants original reporters and photographers notified in the future if another department reuses a story or photograph. Guild members have the right to have their bylines removed from their work if they object to the way it is used. The online version of the story (which we spotted on indystar.com and asked to be removed from the site) had no markings that indicated it was advertising-produced.

This fiasco was embarrassing for everyone who works on the editorial side of the Star. It also violates Gannett’s written Principle’s of Ethical Conduct for Newsrooms which states, “We will be honest in the way we gather, report and present news” and “We will differentiate advertising from news.” To their credit a clarification was issued, the story was pulled off the Web and an explanation provided to the reporter.

Vacation:
April 1 kicks in the vacation request time-tracking system. All requests for days off between April 2 and Sept. 15 have to be OK’d within two weeks of their submission by your manager, as it is first-come, first-served. All newsroom managers have a copy of the contract.

Protesting to the top:
The Indy News Guild over the weekend mailed about 20 letters to members of Gannett’s board of directors, its biggest investors and even the federal securities and exchange commission (SEC) asking them to rescind the bonuses paid out to the company’s executives. We feel we needed to send these letters in light of what we experienced in 2009, and wanted to share with you the letters which are nearly identical. Here’s what they said:

“As shareholders and stakeholders of Gannett Co. Inc., we take exception to the bonus provided CEO, President and Chairman Craig A. DuBow.  Please rescind the award and pay a stipend commensurate for an individual who was out of the office recuperating from surgery for a large share of 2009.

Paying a bonus equal to 50 percent of the $942,000 base salary is an egregious abuse of our company’s resources and shows a callous disregard for shareholders. Concessions prevail for employees even as the strategy employed at McLean, Va., is still unfolding and may prove insufficient to ward off financial danger for our company.

Yes, GCI’s share price rallied in 2009, but so did the DJIA, and by a wider margin. Our share price has returned to only half its value of March 2008, while DJIA is about 20 percent off the mark, and the S&P 500 has performed even better.

A $1.5 million bonus in this case seems excessive and premature, as are the additional perquisites for Mr. DuBow noted in the current Proxy statement. These include membership in a country club and use of GCI aircraft for three years after leaving the company, the donation of GCI home office equipment, payment of Medicare supplements, and access to company-paid secretarial and technical assistance.

Had the GCI stock price remained in the range of the $78-per-share price prevailing when Mr. DuBow became president of the company, this bonus and perquisite compensation scheme might have been deemed satisfactory. In the company’s current financial straits, however, this is excessive generosity on the part of the board and is abusive to shareholders.

We might note the compensation for Mr. DuBow is clearly eroding employee morale here in Indianapolis, the No. 4 newspaper in GCI in terms of daily circulation. At the Star newspaper and indystar.com, leadership has been taking mandated unpaid furloughs. The Indy News Guild, which represents about 180 newsroom workers, has been forced to accept furloughs and a permanent 10% pay cut. The employment base is some 40 percent off the level in place when the newspaper was acquired by GCI a decade ago. News hole has been intentionally reduced, circulation outlets shrunk and employee headcount trimmed. The digital initiatives mandated by McLean have not offset the revenue slide on the print side.

Clearly, the company has tried to cut its way to prosperity.

On an end note, please indulge us on an observation particularly relevant to the workforce in Indianapolis. We have numerous posters in place identifying our core values — Lead, Innovate, Include, Respect. The excessive bonus flies in the face of these values. Please rescind the retirement perquisites and the bonus, and pay the executives a stipend commensurate to their contribution.

Regards,

The officers and stewards of Indianapolis News Guild, Local
34070
CWA-TNG Tom
Spalding, president
P.O. Box 44130
Indianapolis, IN 46244
www.indynewsguild.com.”

*Thanks for reading.

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Filed under Events/Meetings, General, Ongoing Issues