WASHINGTON POST GOT RAISES, WHAT ABOUT US?
Since the Guild’s strike authorization vote last night, there have been two very important national developments: The editorial staff of Gawker Media voted to unionize. The Gawker Media staff voted to join the Writers Guild of America, East. They are the first online-only media group of employees to join a union. Additionally, the Washington Post, often cited by VP of News Operations Stan Wischnowski as a news organization with a contract to consider, reached a tentative agreement on a new two-year deal with the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild. Highlights of the contract include a 2.5% raise in year one and a 2% raise in year two. (For employees who’ve been with our company nine years or less, a “raise” is when the company pays you a higher hourly wage than it did previously.) Full-time employees will also get a $500 signing bonus. The company also moved 46 previously exempt employees into the Guild and kept their far more generous severance plan. Congratulations to the Post workers and the Guild.
At today’s bargaining session dedicated to Philly.com, the Guild stuck with its desire to have the Philly.com contract mirror the main unit contract and made a counter to the Company’s proposal. As Company bargainers Wischnowski and VP of Human Resources Keith Black have neither the power nor permission to do anything, the session was then ended with the Company set to return with its own counter the week of June 15 (probably June 18). Next week, Howard Gensler, Bill Ross and Regina Medina will be attending the annual CWA Convention in beautiful, downtown Detroit discussing our pre-strike preparations with CWA and International Guild leaders.
Speaking of strike prep, the Guild has purchased the domain name http://realphillynews.com, where we will provide news, sports and features from the reporters, editors and producers of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com to our loyal readers and advertisers while the Company attempts to put out a product filled with wire stories and scab news and photos. If the Company believes that the new “Live, Life, Love” and Sunday Business sections can be put out without the reporters, columnists, photographers and artists who inspired those sections, we believe they’re kidding themselves.
If a strike happens, there will also be opportunities for members in advertising, circulation and finance to work on the site or sign up for various other strike committees such as mobilization, strike captains and morale/refreshments. Please respond to this bulletin if you are interested.
Now that owner and publisher Gerry Lenfest has chosen to reach out to members directly, the Guild bargaining committee wishes to ask him to provide information on the economic packages received by the other unions when their contracts are ratified. Let us see their “sacrifices and compromises.” Let us see how the Teamsters diverted $7.80/hour for health care while the Company pays $1.70/singles and $5.13/families per hour for Guild members. Let us see how the other unions were asked to weaken seniority, or does that only apply to the Guild? Throughout these seven months of talks, the Guild has tried to be reasonable and pro-active and move the Company forward. The Guild is not trying to break the Company. The Company is trying to break the union.
Saying that the Guild may go on strike if its contract demands are not met is a statement whose inaccuracy is not worthy of a man of Mr. Lenfest’s stature. It’s the Company’s demands that are the hold-up – demands which include a massive increase to your health care costs and/or a terrible weakening of the present health care plan, the weakening of seniority and the refusal to recognize Philly.com staff with work rules and salaries commensurate with the main unit and their skills.
We’re not the ones being difficult.