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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Newspaper Guild Gripes

Posted by on August 24 at 12:37 PM

Check out the comments on this entry over at the Northwest Newspaper Guild’s blog for its contract negotiations with the Seattle Times.

Looks like union negotiators for the roughly 650 reporters, photographers, and ad sales reps at the Times have accepted a wage freeze proposed by the company—and some of the rank and file union members are pissed. (By the sound of the post, the union negotiators are pretty unhappy too.)

The union membership will be voting on Sept. 13 and 14 to decide whether to accept the new contract. In the run-up to the vote, what are the union commenters saying?

At Thursday, August 24, 2006, Anonymous said…

those Bastards.

Hell No, Vote No ! ! ! !

Among other things

CommentsRSS icon

Ah Eli, the good old days. Don't you miss them?

Actually, I would say "accepted" a wage freeze is a bit misleading. From what the negotiation team is saying, it is apparent that management came into the negotiations with the position that a wage increase was non-negotiable and never budged from that position.

In addition to all the other concessions management has asked for, there is the addition of a "2 of 10" proposal (i.e. two out of every ten employees in the bargaining unit do not have to be members of the Newspaper Guild), which is a change from the previous contract that allowed only for a 1-in-10 ratio.

These seem to be the major sticking points for rank-and-file, and rightly so, but it's a little disconcerting to see the antagonism toward the negotiating team, as if they purposefully bargained away these items, when it seems clear management has been completely unwilling to compromise on any issue of significance.

Bargaining is a two-way street, but if one side simply refuses to engage in the process in good faith, it just doesn't make any sense to me to blame YOUR side for THEIR intransigence.

What is also interesting is that, so far as I can tell, neither the negotiating team nor Guild executives have indicated whether they are recommending a "yes" vote on ratification of the proposal, which would be customary IF they felt this was a good deal (or as good a deal as they could get) for the unit. They don't seem to be calling for an outright "no", but in the absense of a recommendation either way, one is left with a sense that either the team is split on the issue of ratification, or that they oppose the deal, but perhaps feel calling for rejection isn't going have any effect on management should they have to go back into bargaining.

Tough situation for these workers, no matter how you slice it.

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