Wednesday, October 17, 2007

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

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