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Did You Know?

Union members withhold bylines at Union Leader

MANCHESTER, N.H. (Jan. 16, 2012) – Reporters and photographers at The New Hampshire Union Leader  and New Hampshire Sunday News – all members of the Manchester Newspaper Guild – began withholding their bylines and credits as of Friday’s editions as the union local battles for a fair contract.

The Union Leader Corp. is demanding $600,000 in economic concessions and other givebacks from the workers in the paper's largest union, even though the company paid a dividend and executive bonuses a year ago.

For two weeks, staff reporters and photographers – from long-time veterans to part-time, on-call staff – are removing their names from the stories and photos they produce.

The measure was taken in response to a company “Final Offer” that would gut members’ pay, benefits and job security, as well as statements made by company representatives disrespecting and dismissing the professionalism of the union staff.

While the action – allowed by contract – is voluntary, participation has been nearly unanimous, said Norm Welsh, MNG president. The Jan. 15 editions of the Sunday News featured five stories carrying the byline “Staff Report,” rather than the authors’ names.

Said Welsh in a message to members, “Readers know our work, and our names, and know they can trust what they read and the photos they view. We’re not just nameless, faceless “expenses.” We are people, and it is our work that gives this newspaper its value.

“Withholding our names from our work … shows our unity, demonstrates our resolve to reach a fair contract, and, by omission, shows that we really are the name of the game in New Hampshire news,” he wrote.

The Guild agreed to concessions two years ago – including a 12 percent pay cut and expansion of the part-time workforce – to get the company through difficult economic times. The local’s membership unanimously rejected a company proposal in late October that would have cut wages further and sought other givebacks. That vote led to the layoff of five members, as well as an immediate pay cut the Guild is disputing.

When negotiations resumed in November, the company continued to demand hundreds of thousands of dollars in concessions.

The Manchester Newspaper Guild, Local 31167 of The Newspaper Guild/Communications Workers of America, represents 120 professionals in the news, advertising, circulation and other departments at the New Hampshire Union Leader. For more information, visit www.manchesternewsguild.orgor Facebook at www.facebook.com/ManchesterNewsGuild.