Saturday, October 27, 2007

Local 404 Meeting November 4th

Local 404 President Doug Brown asked me to invite our members to attend their Annual General Meeting on Sunday November 4th at 10:Am.

There are quite a few of us who are card carrying members of Local 404, so President Brown would especially like for you to make every effort possible to attend.

GCC/IBT President Tedeschi and GCC/IBT Organizer Marty Keegan will also be in attendance at this meeting so if you may not be planning on attending our meeting on Monday November 5th in Fountain Valley, you might consider joining us a day earlier in Monrovia.

Local 404 is located at 518 west Duarte Rd. Monrovia, Ca.91016 Just south of the 210 fwy at the Myrtle exit, west of Myrtle on the left immediately after Mayflower Ave.

Everyone is welcome to come and witness the processes that take place in these type of meetings and get a look at our future, because we will also have meetings like this one.

See you there!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

November 5th Meeting in Fountain Valley

Come join GCC/IBT President George Tedeschi in Fountain Valley on Monday November 5th. @ 11:00 am

Make the extra effort to attend and don't come alone! This is an excellent opportunity to invite our brothers and sisters in departments other than the pressroom! Make arrangements to carpool if necessary.

If you work in L.A. you can meet at the Olympic Plant and jump in with one another! If you would like to make arrangements to do that, contact me at and I will identify individuals willing to share a ride. You gotta get involved sooner or later! Do it now! See you all there!

(Click on image to enlarge)

Incident Reports and L.A. Times/N.L.R.B. Settlement available on Save Our Trade

You can now download and print copies of the incident report document as well as the recent settlement between the company and the NLRB. Just click here to get to the Links/Resources page. I suggest you save the incident report on your computer should you need to report any incidents you feel violates our rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

Thank's Albaro for making these documents accessible to the members who utilize the resources you make available on Save Our Trade's Homepage. Keep up the good work


Message From Mike Laspina, Newsday Local 406 Business Agent to all other L.A. Times departments

To all my brothers and sisters in the non-union departments,

When I was kid many years ago, my mother would tell my brothers and sisters and me to do chores, such as clean our rooms or pick-up after ourselves. The first words out of our mouths were “WAIT! We’ll do it later! Her response to us was always the same--Wait broke the wagon!

I would think to myself, what the hell does that mean? Well, after hearing this many times I finally asked her. She told me you put enough weights on a wagon, and it will break down and go nowhere.

I used this saying with my children, and I am saying it again to you. The latest win at the L.A.Times with the N.L.R.B. should show you that once you elect to unionize, you have a lot more rights with this company. (Our union, GCC, organized the pressman at LA Times this summer). We at Newsday are Local 406. We have 41 pages of rights called a collective bargaining agreement contract.

At our last negotiations, realizing that the company was facing higher health care costs, we negotiated in good faith to give Tribune the right to raise our healthcare premiums up to 3% in one year. However, there is nothing in the contract that says I will pay a surcharge-not for smoking or for a spouse fee to off-set administration cost. So we are grieving this stupid rule, and we expect to win.

You guys and girls on the other hand will have to pay it, because you have nothing that says otherwise. Mr. Zell will wake up one morning with a cup of coffee and realize a 12 billion-dollar deficit and on that day, Mr. Zell will institute a lot of big changes in every newspaper the Tribune owns, and they won’t be employee-friendly changes. Just like this new pension plan that Zell has in mind.

We as a union have a right to file a grievance and for arbitration because the Tribune said the unions have to negotiate for this new ESOP. If we disagree, we have a right to negotiate for something else according to our contracts, such as a union-based pension. A 3% cash plan and UP TO 5% into an ESOP (UP TO meaning it could be 0 at any given year based on how Tribune is doing). Well, we all know how they are doing (not good) and add to that a $12 billion dollar deficit!

Think of the changes over the short few years we’ve been owned by Tribune. A 40-hour work week with no additional pay, the full-time nurse gone, gates around the grounds, and now a $100 smoking fee & $75 spouse fee. Let me ask--- when was the last time you got a decent raise? And if you are one of the lucky ones that did, will it cover the $175 fee? At what point do you open your eyes and see you can’t win but by having a contract? You have a lot more rights as a union member and there is strength in numbers.

If you want to talk confidentially, call me at the union office at 631-293-6868. I will answer any questions and help you contact the right person in your company.


Thank you,
Mike LaSpina Local 406 GCC/IBT

NLRB Settlement Notice

The posted settlement notice is the result of unfair labor practice charges we filed against the company in July. Brothers Dan Beruman and Kerry McCluskey were asked to give testimony to NLRB Board agent Irma Hernandez in her investigation of our charges and they obviously, did an excellent job. Great work brothers!

Their testimony, Ms. Hernandez's thourough investigation and the Company's desire to avoid a board charge resulted in this settlement between the company and the NLRB.
Acting Regional Director Small felt the settlement resolved our complaints and agreed to the terms offered by the company.

Buddy Gottlieb (our Attorney) recommended we sign on to the settlement and we did. There was no reason to file any objections to this settlement because it does resolves the issues we presented to the NLRB.

The Company's decisions to cease the meal ticket incentive and extend working hours after completion of our runs were both unilateral changes that are subject to collective bargaining and were illegally changed. In L.A. our Brothers and Sisters were being told to perform "cleanup " in excess of normal past practices which is also a unilateral change that cannot change without bargaining first and agreeing to any such changes.

As I said before, the pressrooms are suppose to be a snapshot of what they were when we won our election in January. Any changes after that time are unfair labor practices. We recently mailed out an "Incident report" to all pressroom employees for the purpose of recording these or any other mistreatment from management. USE THEM!

I have asked Albaro Albanes to make this form downloadable for printing on our homepage and I am asking all of you to write your observations of unilateral changes or mistreatment by management and we will forward them to our Attorneys and Representatives for review and determination of the proper action to take.

What does this settlement mean? It simply means that the meal tickets incentive is re-instated and we go home at the end of the run once we complete our clean-up, as we have for decades This is known as past practice.

During the organizing campaign we were told that if we voted in the union we would lose our "bust outs" and my response was and still is that the only things we can possibly lose is what we aggree to give up. Don't you think they took enough? This proves that nothing was to change in our shops without bargaining with us first!

That includes the Smoking and Spouse fees the company is planning to impose. The company mentioned that they are attempting to promote a healthy lifestyle. This financially penalizes, it does not promote health decision changes. Is the company going to reward non-smokers by reducing their health insurance cost by $100.00 or $75.00 for not insuring your spouse? Don't hold your breath! (Another pun!)

The company also mentions that they were merely following a trend at other newspapers and used Gannett as an example, they failed to mention that these fees violated their current contracts, thus their employees will not be forced to pay these fees.
(Gannett info source: GCC/IBT International Representive Doug Nowakowski)

We have the right to negotiate our benefits and our cost thus, we will negotiate these fees along with all benefits we are entitled to. We still have to participate in the open enrollment process because we are currently without a contract. These fees will be addressed by the negotiation committee in collective bargaining if the company decides to go forward with these ridiculously invasive and expensive fees.

I hope this example of what our solidarity can accomplish changes the minds of those who believed the deceptive messages the company delivered to us in their anti-union meetings.
Management is currently spreading these same lies to our brothers and sisters in other departments. It is all of our responsibility to share the truth and this settlement with all of them and encourage them to do as we did and organize their departments. Don't let management lie to them like they did to us for years and years.

Stand together and let's show everyone what we can accomplish. Two can accomplish more than one, four can accomplish twice as much as two, you get the picture!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tribune's smoking fee

Mark Lacter


Here's another example of why companies have no business dealing with people’s health care coverage. Employees who smoke (and/or family members who smoke and are covered by Tribune insurance) will have to fork over a $100 surcharge each month. The new fees, to be assessed beginning next year, are an effort to offset higher insurance premiums and promote workers health. "We pay the lion's share of medical expenses and we have a responsibility to contain those costs," Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman told E&P. "We are and have been doing everything we can. It is a shared responsibility between employees and the company." At least two Teamster locals at the Baltimore Sun have filed grievances, claiming that the Chicago-based parent of the LAT (and a bunch of other papers) violates current contract language. In addition to the smoking charge, there will be a $75-a-month charge assessed to Tribune employees who place a spouse into the Tribune plan who could be covered under their own employment plan. Nice. It’s not that other companies haven’t put the squeeze on their workers to shape up, but typically it’s done by way of incentive (lower premiums for folks enrolling in wellness programs, for example).

(For the complete story click here)

Tribune Co. 'Smoker' Fee -- and Spousal Surcharge -- Draw Union Fire

Tribune Co. 'Smoker' Fee -- and Spousal Surcharge -- Draw Union Fire By Joe Strupp Published: October 11, 2007 1:30 PM ET
NEW YORK A Tribune Company plan to assess a $100 per month health benefit fee on smokers, and a $75 fee for some spousal coverage, is drawing angry reaction among newspaper workers, including at least two Teamster locals that have filed grievances over the cost.
Tribune Company spokesman Gary Weitman confirmed that the company plans to assess the new fees in 2008, claiming they are needed to offset higher costs and promote worker health. Specifically, the assessment would require Tribune employees who smoke or have a family member covered under their policy who smokes to pay an additional $100 per month. In addition, Tribune employees who place a spouse under Tribune coverage who could be covered under their own employment plan elsewhere will be assessed another $75 per month fee.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Price of Smoking and being Married!

Some of us have already received the letter Albaro posted below. It is from Luis Lewin of Tribune Benefits.

Non-Smokers will agree that this is an unacceptable money grab by the insurance companies and our employer to control our lifestyle and the decisions we make regarding our health.

The air we breath has just as much garbage in it as any tobacco product on the market. Are we going to be charged for breathing next? I know that sounds extreme but so is this unfair decision to penalize the employee/consumer. We all know the dangers of smoking and most would prefer not to, but again, that is an individuals right to choose.
I suggest all of you, whether you smoke or not, to contact employee benefits and voice your anger over this financial penalty against our employee benefit costs.

You should also be allowed to choose and manage your health care providers and premium costs to provide coverage for your spouse regardless of whether he/she can obtain coverage through their employer. We pay additional premiums to include our spouses in our plans, so why are we being forced to remove them, or get FINED. It is obvious that their only goal is to have us drop our spouses to reduce costs for themselves, but as I said, we pay extra for their coverage, it's not free!

Many have spouses with access to coverage and also someone in their family may also smoke, so these employees are being asked to "COUGH" up (excuse the pun) $175.00 a month on top of their already high premiums. This is ridiculously incomprehensible and unreasonably expensive to maintain affordable health care coverage for our families.
Question, do you think your health care provider's costs are equivalent to the service you recieve currently? Do you think they have the right to penalize you for smoking?

What will they next consider "self-inflicted" health risk decisions that they can stick a price tag onto. Riding Motorcycles are dangerous, could Bike Riders be next? Maybe that next beer or glass of wine will be considered a financial opportunity to cash in on the choices we make in our lives.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Benefits Open Enrollment

Open enrollment for health and wellness benefits will be held from October 15 through November 2. During this time, you have the opportunity to review your current benefits elections and make changes to your coverage for 2008. There are several changes to your benefits plans for next year, some of which reflect growing trends among large U.S. companies -a summary is attached. The most significant changes are:

• Free generic drugs for hypertension, asthma or diabetes-Under the Blue Cross Blue Shield and CIGNA plans, employees and covered dependents with any of these conditions will receive generic drugs for free and pay only $5 for brand-name drugs when purchasing prescriptions for these conditions through the mail order program.

Tobacco use fee -Tribune employees who use tobacco products (or have covered dependents who do so), will pay a $100 per month fee (per family) in addition to their medical premium. Smoking cessation programs will be offered to assist those who use tobacco in leading a smoke-free lifestyle. The fee will be waived upon completion of the program.

• Spousal coverage fee -Employees who enroll l spouse/domestic partner under Tribune's medical plan who also has access to coverage through another employer will pay a $75 per month fee in addition to their medical premium if the spouse/ domestic partner remains under Tribune's plan.

Preventive care continues to be 100 percent covered after the office visit co-payment (including physicals, mammograms and prostate screenings).
To enroll for your benefits, use the instructions included on the attached summary; be sure to print your confirmation statement after making your elections. You must visit eBeneflts to review your benefit options, answer questions about tobacco use and spouse/domestic partner coverage and re-enroll in the flexible spending accounts. Additional information about your benefits will be included in the Enrollment Guide available on eBenefits.
If you have questions about your health and wellness benefits, please contact the Tribune Benefits Service Center at 800/872-2222.

I totally understand about my doctor's concern about my smoking, but now that the insurance companies are charging me $100.00 extra a month for exercising my right to live the way I want it is just a little too much, what ever happened to the land of the free? Isn't this a choice? Is it legal?

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