Guild overwhelmingly rejects Union Leader offer
MANCHESTER (Oct. 26, 2011) – Members of the Manchester Newspaper Guild on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected a contract proposal from the management of the New Hampshire Union Leader, taking a stand against further concessions and union-gutting efforts.
Via secret ballot, the membership voted unanimously -- 76 to 0 – to reject the company’s proposal, even in the face of management threats that it would lay off six veteran employees and immediately cut pay by 10 percent if the sides could not reach full agreement by Oct. 31.
“In the past, the Guild has accepted concessions as the company struggled through difficult times. In the recent past, we’ve agreed to layoffs, pay cuts and freezes, furloughs, and increased healthcare costs to help out this company,” said Norm Welsh, president of the Guild local.
“Last year, the company paid a dividend, and top executives received a raise,” he said. “This year, it's after more concessions. Our membership today said 'No' to that business strategy. They’re fed up with the bullying, gun-to-our-head bargaining tactics this management employs.”
The Guild has been in discussions with Union Leader management since September. But despite 12 bargaining sessions, management has refused to budge from its initial proposal. Management has demanded an across-the-board, 10-percent reduction in Guild salaries, cuts in sick time, a longer work week, the revocation of protections for full-time jobs, and the elimination of unpaid union leave, among other givebacks.
The Guild has put three different proposals on the table, Welsh said, focusing on protections for members who might face layoff, and for part-time employees, an increasing segment of the workforce.
“None of our members wants to see layoffs, because we fear for the devastating consequences at the newspaper,” Welsh said. “You can only cut so much before you compromise quality. So what do we do? It's time for management to start bargaining in good faith to reach a fair agreement.”