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Did You Know?

Update 11: Artificial deadline looms

Off-the-record discussions last Wednesday, and again during Monday’s session with federal mediator Gerard Gomez, regarding the Guild’s proposal for a one-time, without-precedent, negotiated, enhanced, voluntary separation agreement unfortunately did not bear fruit, with the Guild’s bargaining committee deciding to go back on the record instead, informing the company that it is prepared to bring the company’s original contract proposal to the membership for a an up-or-down vote during a special emergency membership meeting on Wednesday.

That emergency meeting will be held at 4:30 p.m. at the New Hampshire Food Bank, 700 East Industrial park Drive (corner of Holt Avenue), and all members of Local 31167 are strongly urged to attend. Members who are scheduled to work, including part-time employees, are excused to attend the meeting. Either way the vote goes, the outcome will significantly affect every member’s working and financial lives.

Though the talks regarding the separation proposal were off the record, it can be reported that nine members, including eight from the newsroom, expressed serious interest in participating, in response to the Guild’s call for volunteers. Unfortunately, in discussions with the company, it became apparent that going forward with the proposal would not have reached the effect hoped for by the Guild, nor significantly moved the sides closer on some core issues compared to the company’s on-the-record proposal, necessitating the Guild’s return to on-the-record discussion.

Members now will be asked to vote on the company’s original proposal, which has NOT changed – not even by ONE WORD – since it was made on the first day of bargaining Sept. 12, despite 11 negotiating sessions.

As stated that first day, if the proposal is rejected by the Guild, the company will lay off six members, and will immediately cut the pay of remaining members by 10 percent, as of Nov. 1. The Guild laments these layoffs to be made by the company, and believes they could have been avoided. The Guild also strongly believes the pay cut is in violation of the current contract, and is prepared to go to arbitration, where it is confident it will get that money back for members.

If passed, this proposal has something truly horrible in it for everyone. Beyond language which would negatively impact everyone’s working conditions, and damage the local, worst hit, financially, would be nightside copy editors, particularly part-timers, which we’ll explain in full in a later update. As noted in our first bargaining update, and as will be explained more fully in updates and answers to members’ questions over the next two days, if the proposal is approved, members would be agreeing to:

--A 10% salary reduction from current wages, which would leave us 22 percent below what we made in 2008, at least until the next contract is bargained in two years.

--An increase to a 40-hour work week, with NO ADDITIONAL PAY. (On top of the 10% pay cut, this proposal would severely impact part-time wages…more to come in a later update).

--Loss of pagination pay for copy editors

--Elimination of current incentive plan for advertising reps, to possibly be replaced, wholly at the discretion of the publisher, including whether there is even to be such a plan

--Loss of all bonuses and differentials for odd hours worked.

--Elimination of personal days

--Mandatory work on holidays

--Loss of banked holidays for those who work them

--Elimination of wellness bonus

--A reduction in sick leave to 10 days for all employees

--An employee contribution to the pension of $10/week, which the Guild believes is not allowed for a Taft-Hartley pension such as ours.

--No company contribution to the health savings account

--Loss of the health-insurance opt-out

--Reduction in mileage rate to $.30/mile and no minimum mileage

--Elimination of the part-time hour cap and the ability to use an unlimited number of part-time employees -- even to displace full-time employees and create an entirely part-time workforce without benefits -- for up to 28 hours each.

--Making three more current Guild positions exempt: Design Editor, Web Editor and Assistant Night Editor

--Loss of jurisdiction in Laconia

--Elimination entirely of smoking on company property

--A limit to the amount of vacation time employees can carry over, in “use it or lose it” fashion, which the Guild believes violates NH Labor Department rules.

Stay tuned for more detailed explanations of the company proposal.

Your Local 31167 Bargaining Committee