A new contract effective until March 31, 2014 has been ratified by members of the Peoria United Media Guild Unit 86 by a vote of 49-3.
The ratification officially brings an end to ten months of contentious negotiations between the Guild and Gatehouse Media/Journal Star.
The Guild, led by bargaining team members Phil Luciano, Chris Kaergard, Danielle Hatch, and Tom Butterfield, held off a number of unacceptable demands put forth by the company.
Cuts in pay, vacation, overtime, severance, and mileage reimbursement, increases in medical premiums, changes in job classifications, pay scale, and job security, and the outsourcing of copy desk work were all successfully negotiated away.
The only truly egregious aspect of the new deal, besides a pay freeze, is the company’s insistence on the right to outsource the work of the Journal Star circulation department, a concession that could result in the elimination of over 30 jobs. The bargaining team stressed the futility and potential counterproductivity of negotiating further on this matter.
The bargaining team also pointed out that Unit 86 will likely face more obstacles in the near future as the newspaper industry continues to change, for worse or for better. Many of the issues resolved in the latest contract negotiations such as outsourcing and pay cuts will likely resurface in the next.
Peoria Unit 86 would like to thank the aforementioned members of the bargaining team, as well as Darren Carroll from The Newspaper Guild/CWA, the St. Louis chapter of the United Media Guild, the City of Peoria and surrounding communities, and all members of Unit 86 for their hard work and dedication.
Keep in mind that Guild members at the Canton Repository in Canton, Ohio are still in contract negotiations with Gatehouse Media. They are facing many of the same issues that Unit 86 has been up against. To keep up-to-date on their progress and offer support, visit their Facebook page: Save the Repository