Update 6: Revisions, Under Review
The Guild bargaining committee offered a revised proposal at Monday’s sixth session that prompted company spokesperson Sharon Ciechon to exclaim -- after a caucus and once again feigning offense by the company -- that “This proposal has brought us further apart” before she abruptly ended bargaining early for a second straight session.
The proposal (attached as a pdf and posted for members at www.manchesternewsguild.org) made modest movement from the Guild’s initial proposal, in an effort to get the talks moving. What got the company to balk was the Guild’s inclusion of its initial economic proposal seeking to recoup the 12.3 percent pay reduction members have suffered during the current contract.
The Guild proposed salary increases of 3% on July 1 of 2012, and an additional 3% Jan. 1 of 2013, 2014 and 2015, a total of 12% over four years. The proposal has been made as an effort to get all of the Guild’s issues on the table prior to the company’s artificial deadline to make good on its bullying threats of salary and staff reductions.
To Ciechon’s reaction, the Guild’s chief spokesman said, “We need to stress, once again, that individual families are facing dire conditions and this addresses basic needs. It represents nothing more than to get members back to where they were two years ago.”
While expressing upset, the company promised to take a look at the entire proposal overnight, before it ended the session. We shall see.
Other attempts at movement in the Guild’s revised proposal include:
--A change from a 5-year to a 4-year agreement;
--adding the director of UnionLeader.com to Art.1, Sec. 1’s Exceptions
--Modification of its proposal for Art. 1, Sec. 2, to ensure management won’t perform Guild work to displace a member or avoid overtime;
--Elimination of the company payment to HSA accounts from Art. 2, Sec. 1, an estimated $45,000 savings to the company;
--Deletion of Attachment J, regarding a Technology Committee;
--Movement of some portions of Attachments A,B, and D (including part-time eye-care coverage) to appropriate places in the contract and deletion of those Attachments.
The Guild also made it clear that it is preparing a comprehensive proposal dealing with part-time seniority and hiring issues, and issues regarding layoff and seniority language. While acknowledging differences of opinion between the company and union regarding part-time seniority, the Guild expressed hope that specific language dealing with the issue can be addressed through negotiations, rather than in a legal setting.
There was much discussion of the company’s proposal to allow non-unit people to perform Guild work in Laconia. The company claims that with the demise of Laconia’s Sunday newspaper there is room to make inroads, but that it would be cheaper to use a correspondent than a Guild employee for such coverage.
The Guild pointed out that there used to be a Guild-staffed Laconia bureau, and a Guild member is still assigned to cover that area and other subjects. It suggested it is management’s prerogative to direct Guild resources where it feels they can best be utilized, and it can do so under current language without violating our jurisdiction. Guild bargainers also pointed out (and filed grievances yesterday) two more violations of jurisdiction in Manchester, one via a member of the public and one via the Publisher performing Guild work, and that the company’s decision to reduce Guild staff does not preclude it from following the contract. Guild committee members also pointed out these issues only become magnified in the face of company threats of additional layoffs.
Also touched upon was the contentious subjects of authorized union leave and timecard issues, with the Guild’s spokesperson stating the company’s threat of discipline for members who fill out their timecards incorrectly would be an unfortunate avenue for the company to pursue, and offering the hope that other means of rectifying the timecard issue might be explored.
Talks continue Tuesday, at noon.
Your Local 31167 Bargaining Committee