The NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia

Guild NLRB charges filed, PMN “Fraudulently induced givebacks.”

January 23, 2019billrossGuild News, Inquirer

Dear Guild Brothers and Sisters:

It has not been with pride, but from a sense of duty to help the Company survive and, we hoped, thrive that the Guild since 2009 has agreed to pay cut after pay cut, unpaid furloughs, and the destruction of its pension, followed by year after year of no across-the-board pay raises.

The Guild also has cooperated with the Company with contract changes to enable restructuring in advertising and the newsroom that were pitched to us as essential for the Inquirer/Daily News/ to be relevant and competitive in an increasingly challenged industry.

In other words, we have been a loyal partner, answering the call for help time after time.

What we now know is that we were lied to by the very Company we made so very many sacrifices to aid. That lie – that the Company was out of the pension business – led the Guild to honor a Company request to drop a contract provision that had guaranteed the Company would resume payments to the Guild pension plan if it resumed such payments to any other unions’ pension plans.

As we have previously told you, at a Jan. 4, 2019 wage reopener bargaining session with the Guild, the Company reported that it had reached a contract agreement with Teamsters Local 628 on Dec. 29. That agreement, the Company admitted under questioning, includes, among many perks, yearly pension contributions to the Teamsters that began in 2015 – five years after the Company stopped making payments to the Guild pension, and the very same year Company representatives falsely claimed that documentation that it was back in the pension business did not exist.

Consequently, on Tuesday, the Guild filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board asserting that the Company “fraudulently induced” the Guild to give up that so-called “Me Too” provision that would have required the company to resume contributions to the Guild pension plan when it starting making such payments to the Teamsters plan in 2015. By very conservative estimates, that has cost the Guild $2 million, likely a lot more.

Without getting into too much technicality, the Guild’s attorney, Neal Goldstein, has requested that the regional director for the NLRB reopen a case involving Unfair Labor Practice charges the Guild first filed against the Company on Dec. 8, 2015. In that filing, the Guild asserted that 1) the Company had made false claims during bargaining to get the Guild to drop that “Me Too” provision over the pension, and 2) the Company failed to provide requested information regarding its contributions to other unions’ pension plans. The Guild withdrew those original charges in January 2016 after the NLRB regional director found there was no evidence to substantiate them.

Now there is, contained in the new contract the company has reached with the Teamsters, a copy of which the Guild has.

We will keep you apprised of next steps and are so heartened by the expressions of support from many of you. We understand your anger over the Company not only rejecting our recent request for a pay raise but also violating its moral obligation to be truthful with its employees.

You deserve better.

In solidarity,

Diane Mastrull, President

Bill Ross, Executive Director

Maggie O’Brien

Melanie Burney

John Robinson

Amy Rosenberg

Donna Stokes

Jonathan Tannenwald

Tricia Nadolny

Jonathan Lai

Eric Churn