With the latest bargaining session fast approaching on May 30, and another one scheduled for June 7, here’s a quick update on what transpired on April 26, plus a couple of important dates to remember:
From Guild president Phil Luciano:
The last bargaining session brought noteworthy movement from the other side. By “noteworthy,” that’s not to say — at all — that we are amenable to these terms. Any comprehensive proposal has to be evaluated in total, and we continue to negotiate many aspects of the contract.
1. GateHouse remains steadfast in its insistence on outsourcing circulation. The current proposal calls for enhanced severance. The contract calls for 22 weeks for full-timers. The proposal offers four more weeks, with a minimums of $4,000 for full-timers and $2,000 for part-timers. Also, the company would continue its share of medical insurance during the duration of each employee’s severance payments.
2. GateHouse moved off its demand for salary concessions. The proposal is now at zero.
3. GateHouse has modified its proposal regarding medical insurance. Under the contract, we pay 25 percent. GateHouse had been proposing 45 percent. Now, the proposal is at 35 percent.
4. The vacation switch-over to an earn-as-you-go system has been a point of contention. We believe the change will cost members a year of earned vacation. Under GateHouse’s new proposal, members would retain a half-year of earned vacation.
5. GateHouse has rescinded it’s “island” job-security provision. The new concept involves just three divisions: journalists, news assistants and librarians. This delineation provided far more security for our members, should GateHouse seek layoffs.
6. GateHouse moved the date of expiration from March 1, 2013 to April 1, 2013.
The Guild still has major concerns, the biggest, of course, being the outsourcing of employees. Also, much remains of the original proposal, such as a cutback in mileage reimbursement, from 90 percent to 65 percent of the IRS rate.
Further, we bristle at the notion of an 18-month agreement, as proposed. Though 18-month contracts are common lately at newspaper unions, GateHouse has been insistent about starting the contract essentially when the last one ended, last August. An April termination date would mean that we would have to start preparing for the next round of bargaining right after signing the contract.
There is still much work to be done. So the bargaining team requests two things:
1. Feedback. Please feel free to email (email@example.com) suggestions or approach any bargaining-team member directly. But please do so asap; we want your input before we next talk to GateHouse. Mind you, the info above is NOT NOT NOT a proposal; those are just bullet points. Still, we would appreciate any feedback you care to offer.
2. We need to continue with our public-information campaign. We continue to seek audiences to hear our message. Regardless of what happens in negotiations, we need to continue to let the public know what is going on with their newspaper.
The next regular Guild meeting is 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 16 at Two25.
Thursday, May 24 is the Gatehouse Media stockholders’ meeting in New York . The Guild is holding a lunchtime rally at the Peoria County Courthouse in downtown Peoria.
Again, the next scheduled bargaining dates are May 30 and June 7.