The NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia


January 27, 2022billrossInquirer

Hello Guild friends:
I wanted to update you on a number of matters that have the Guild and the Company at odds, much of it stemming from disagreements over interpretations of our contract.Yesterday, Bill Ross and I failed to convince the Company it does not have the right to have non-Guild newsroom managers writing content. Therefore, we are taking our defense of that precious contractual right to arbitration.There is much, much precedent at this company for not allowing non-Guild members to write. The Company has engaged in some, well, sleazy behavior in trying to hide instances of non-Guild managers writing by using “Staff Reports” as bylines, or even initials. This is a company facing many challenges as it reimagines itself post-COVID. That seems like more than enough work to keep its managers busy without them trying to erode our rights and take work away from Guild members. Protection of that work is one of the most treasured parts of our contract and we will exhaust every effort to fight to protect it.If this Company is so desperate for more written content, then it should hire more writers. Period.We are also not on the same page regarding the rate of pay for any holiday worked. There is no belligerence on the part of the Company on this issue, just seemingly basic confusion.We contend anyone who works a holiday is entitled to the equivalent of 24 hours pay for that day: 16 hours under the contract provision for double time for hours WORKED on the holiday plus 8 hours of holiday pay. (If you are in a department that does not work a full 8 hours on a holiday, it’s double whatever the hours you worked plus compensation for the holiday.)The Guild has requested data back to 2017 when the contract changed to provide for double pay for any holiday hours worked. We will work with the Company to review how people have been compensated and will work to get compensation for anyone who has been shorted. This is a complex issue so please be patient.We also emphasized that any Return to Work decisions regarding Guild members must be negotiated with the Guild. We have been assured discussions will happen. For now, there are no details beyond what the Company released this week. We are fully aware that a plan to not provide designated workspace for all employees will not sit well with some of you. That’s why these matters have to be negotiated, we contend.We also objected to the way in which a job posting for a new Phillies beat writer was crafted. The problem: It didn’t even say the job was a Phillies beat writer. It simply said: “Beat Writer, Sports – Guild.” Job postings must be detailed so that everyone has a clear sense of what they are so they can make an informed decision about whether or not to apply for them.Also in sports, we are fighting for the right for a member to continue his podcast.Lastly, Bill and I attended a pension trustees meeting this morning where we learned our pension is still on track to receive at least $206 million and perhaps as much as $292 million from the American Rescue Plan to enable the pension (which is due to run out of money in the 2025/26 plan year to live on for another 30 years.) The requirements of that plan prohibit us from applying for the funds until Feb. 11, 2023, with expectations the money would be delivered by the end of 2023.That’s a lot. But protecting Guild members and their contract and ensuring that their workspace meets all health and safety requirements is important stuff. The reason to have a union, I would argue.As always, reply to this bulletin with any questions, comments or concerns.In solidarity,Diane