The NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia

Why seniority matters to everyone

June 24, 2015billrossInquirer

Seniority only is a factor with regard to the wage scale and in the event of a layoff. As long as people do their jobs – and the company has performance review mechanisms to fire people if they do not – then seniority allows employees to get annual wage increases until they reach top scale and offers job security to those who do their jobs. It is the fairest system in a newsroom because it offers journalists protection to report difficult stories, speak their minds honestly and develop sources and institutional knowledge and in all departments it removes favoritism and office politics from the layoff process.


Seniority affects everyone the same. As long as the company continues to hire, and ours is, everyone benefits from the system. Everyone moves up the ladder. That we have had forty or so sessions with the company and the thing they’ve been most concerned about, the issue they’ve brought up more than any other, pertains to getting rid of people in the event of a layoff – when we’ve lost more than half of our Guild members over the past decade or so – is disheartening at best. 


We need to be thinking out of the box, not continually making the box smaller.


The Guild came into these talks looking for ways to help move the company forward in the digital age – training, re-training and how to better integrate into the print newsrooms with the same salaries and benefits as the print staff – and all the company wants to do is improve their ability to lay off some of the very people who made this company one that three of the wealthiest men in our area fought so hard over – and sued each other – to buy.


Four other points to consider:


The company’s contention that other news organizations around the country have moved on seniority is irrelevant. Those companies have healthy pensions – older workers can retire with dignity because they’ll get the money they’re due –  in some case their members got raises and they didn’t get killed on their healthcare. 


No other union in these negotiations is being asked to give up or weaken seniority. Only the Guild. 


Seniority in the management ranks? Yeah, that’s okay.


Oh, and the publisher is 85.


In solidarity,


Howard Gensler

Bill Ross

Diane Mastrull

Cindy Burton

Melanie Burney

Regina Medina

Brian McCrone