The NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia

Bring Us the Decider

September 28, 2011billrossDigital First Media

You ever talk to that bored-looking teenager at the counter and realize you’re getting nowhere because this kid either doesn’t know the answers, or isn’t authorized to answer?

Well, that’s where we are folks. We’ve asked to see the manager.

Seven months in, and now using a federal mediator and we still have yet to receive a single answer to any of our contract proposals. Not one.

It is no longer deniable that Publisher Tom Abbott (or whatever he is now in the alternate JRC universe) is not in a position to decide anything; respond to anything or even nod his head.

  • We’ve proposed a 5 percent raise.

No response.

  • We’ve submitted a schedule for merging the B-pay scale with the A-scale.

No response.

  • We’re proposed a measly $2.50 weekly stipend for cell phone use.

No response.

  • We, on the other hand, have reached agreement on roughly 18 of the 26-or-more proposals the company has made, rejecting some outright, such as giving up the ability to bargain over health care changes made to management’s health care and giving up jurisdiction over new work. No thanks.
  • But hey, at least we responded. If only Tom Abbott could say the same.

So we’re done.

Having reached tentative agreements on no small number of contract issues the company wanted addressed – including solving several problems that do not exist – the negotiating committee Tuesday informed the company (through the mediator) that we will no longer schedule meetings until we can meet with someone who has the actual authority to bargain, not a JRC Bobblehead.

Because what we’ve been doing up to this point is not bargaining. (Maybe Digital First means bargaining last, who knows?)

We don’t care if it’s John Paton, lawyer Michael Rybicki, or Bozo the Clown. But if you want to settle a contract, you need both sides to have the authority to make a decision. And it has become painfully evident that currently, we are the only side capable of doing that.

It will give you some idea of what we have proposed and one of the things on which we await a response other than “I’ll have to get back to you.”

Bargaining Committee

  • David Levengood, Unit Chairperson
  • Gene Koch, Steve Gordon, Evan Brandt
  • Bill Ross, Exec Director, Newspaper Guild