Saturday, December 01, 2007

Unsettling Settlement Dis-Agreement!

Greeting's Brothers and Sisters.

Negotiations began exactly one month ago today and we have met with management three times during this period. We are scheduled to meet again in a week on December 5th and 6th.
Alot has been accomplished and nothing has been accomplished. Confused? That's what management wants. I was hesitant to post anything until giving the negotiations an opportunity to get on the right path. The company is on a different path all together and continues to show that they are as out of touch as ever with their employees and their employees needs. That is why WE need to fight for what is in our best interest.

Pursuant to the Settlement Agreement approved by NLRB Regional Director James Small, the company declared:

"We Will Not" discriminate against our employees by ceasing to award meal tickets for work performance or by changing our current practice of permitting employees to"LEAVE EARLY" when the work we assign to them is completed, because our employees supported and/or assisted the Union.

They also declared "We Will" continue our practice of permitting employees to leave early when the work we assign to them is completed.

The ink on this settlement between the company and the NLRB has barely dried, yet Walker and the company have intentionally and arrogantly ignored THE AGREEMENT. We filed Unfair Labor Practice charges informing the NLRB that as a result of certification, unilateral changes intended to punish us for voting for representation were being made in violation of our rights under section 7 of the NLRA. The NLRB was preparing to charge the company with violating our rights, so as to avoid the charge, the settlement was proposed by the company and we signed on because we believed that the company would obey the law and abide by the settlement agreements, it's obvious to our brothers and sisters in L.A. that they have no intention.

In our few negotiation sessions, the committee attempted to resolve the matter of washing blankets twice in a shift, and informed management that we view this unilateral change as retaliation and in violation of the settlement agreement because it extends the work hours and punishes the bargaining unit by not allowing employees to leave early at the end of their run as we have done for decades. We have never washed twice, it was either before or after a run and management knows this fact because of all the arguments we have had over the years as to when washing is best, before or after. We have ran multiple runs without washing and because of this time honored practice, having to wash twice clearly is a form of retaliation. Those attempts for resolution by the committee have been intentionally ignored as well.

Another way the settlement and our rights are being blatantly ignored, and the bargaining unit punished, is by the new procedure of having crews "change over" and stand by until all other production is complete, never producing a single newspaper, at expense and unnecessary cost to the company.

Seniority has afforded us very little over the years especially under Tribune, thus we valued what we did benefit from our seniority when it was a factor. Management again, in L.A. only, began ignoring what few ways seniority is used when determining crew placement with the only reason being, to retaliate against it's employees.

These acts of IGNORANCE by management have not been ignored by us, by no means, and we will not tolerate it any longer. An opportunity was presented to the company at the table to restore these practices and they AREN'T INTERESTED, so we have again filed unfair labor practice charges and will present our arguments to the NLRB.

For the record, they have yet to make those who suffered a loss by the discontinuance of the meal ticket incentive whole, and we will be sure to inform the NLRB of that fact as well.

(12/05/07 ) Update: Today during negotiations, the company stated that they and the NLRB were continuing to discuss the details of meal tickets owed to those who met the criteria to earn meal tickets under the settlement agreement.

(A unilateral change is ANY change after certification that takes place without collective bargaining. The "bust-out" and meal ticket charges we filed, and the companys settlement agreement to restore the incentive, and allow employees to "leave early" establishes that NO CHANGES were, or are to be made, unless negotiated and agreed to. To prove what I've just stated, the company's proposals seek to eliminate both.)


Within the six months last past, the above-named Employer has unilaterally changed the terms and conditions of employment for bargaining unit employees without providing notice to nor an opportunity to bargain with the charging party.

1. The Employer announced that contrary to the past practice, Press Room employees would be thereafter required to wash blankets twice per shift. The new requirement to wash blankets twice per shift has had a negative impact on bargaining unit employees since washing blankets twice per shift instead of once obviously takes more time, and is physically exerting requiring employees to engage in repetitive motions at difficult angles and thereby increases the risk of industrial injury to such employees. This change also has resulted in the extension of work hours for some employees and the increase has further had the effect of depriving some employees of their lunch period.

2. The Employer has also changed the practice with respect to changing presses at the end of shifts to produce a different product. In the past, this kind of work was not required and has a negative impact on bargaining unit employees since it takes more time and has interfered with the employees’ work schedules by eliminating time historically given to bargaining unit employees to clean up at the end of their shift. Further, in the past, once the employees had finished the work historically assigned to them, they were allowed to clean up and go home without a loss of pay. This unilateral change also changes that historical practice.

3. In the past, bargaining unit employees were selected for particular crews based upon seniority. Such selections were made once a year. Seniority is also used to determine the specific spot on a specific crew selected by an employee. Many bargaining unit employees select a crew based upon the shift assigned to that crew. This provided a mechanism for employees with the most seniority to select the most desirable crews, shifts and days off. Now the Employer, in contravention of this historical practice, has eliminated seniority in the selection of crew placement.

By these and other acts, the above named Employer has and continues to violate the Act.

(basis of charge prepared by Adam Stern ESQ. Attorney at Law)

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