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Did You Know?

There’s a gun to our head – again

Bargaining for a Manchester Newspaper Guild contract for 2012 and beyond began today. We expected bad things from the company’s negotiators. What they proposed is worse than bad.  We’re striving for “No Givebacks.” That’s all the company is after.

Citing the immediate need for $600,000 in savings for 2012, and once again creating an artificial deadline, the company  threatens six layoffs and a pay cut should the “shared savings” run out and we don’t come to terms by Oct. 31. (The company’s “Opening Statement” and initial offer will be on Guild bulletin boards and posted here.

The terms are horrific:

--A 10% salary reduction from current wages, which would leave us 22 percent below what we made in 2008.

--An increase to a 40-hour work week, with NO ADDITIONAL PAY.

--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, and even whether there is 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

--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 numer of part-time employees 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.

While “appreciating the sacrifices our employees, including Guild members have made,” the company tossed out two options, apparently as attempts at appeasement: A majority of ALL newsroom jobs becoming four 10-hour days, with three consecutive days off, and the continued payment of the “shared savings” portion of our pay -- which the company claims will run out in mid-October – until the end of the year (when it would get cut anyway under the company proposal).

Barring agreement on “everything”  by Oct. 31, the company says it will withdraw those options, and says it will lay off six positions beginning in mid-November: a senior programmer, a layout 8000 coordinator, an inside classified ad solicitor and three senior reporters. The company took the cheap shot and had the audacity to name the individuals it thinks would be affected. The Guild emphatically pointed out that whatever unfortunate action the company might choose to take,  all Guild members will retain their seniority and bumping rights, and the Guild will work vigilantly to ensure that.

A membership meeting will be held on Thursday, at 4:30 p.m., at the New Hampshire Food Bank on East Industrial Drive. We’d strongly urge attendance. We also thank all members who wore a sticker, and strongly urge EVERY member to continue to do so.

Your Local 31167 Bargaining Committee