Monday, December 29, 2008

Los Angeles Times Pressmens 20 Year Club: January, 2008 in Retrospect

Ed Padgett provides a look back at this years posts on the 20 year club blog.
Good job Ed.
Click on title or link below.

Los Angeles Times Pressmens 20 Year Club: January, 2008 in Retrospect#links

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The rest period is defined as a "net" ten minutes, which means that the rest period begins when the employee reaches an area away from the work area that is appropriate for rest. Employers are required to provide suitable resting facilities that shall be available for employees during working hours in an area separate from the toilet rooms.
What are the basic requirements for rest periods under California law?
California employees covered by the rest period provisions of the Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders must be provided with a net 10-minute paid rest period for every four hours worked or major fraction thereof. Insofar as is practicable, the rest period should be in the middle of the work period. If an employer fails to provide an employee a rest period, the employer shall pay the employee one hour of pay at the employee's regular rate of pay for each workday that the rest period is not provided.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hoffa Says Tribune Workers Should Come First in Bankruptcy Court

Official Statement of Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa
December 16, 2008
When billionaire Sam Zell took Tribune private in an overleveraged, doomed deal that swiftly brought down the 161-year-old media giant, the risks involved were placed squarely on the shoulders of Tribune workers. Now, as Tribune’s creditors head to bankruptcy court for payback, these workers should go directly to the front of the line.
By transferring 100% ownership of the company and some $13 billion of debt to an S-Corp Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) in the buyout, Zell insulated himself from tax responsibilities and mortgaged the future retirement savings of Tribune employees. Despite owning 100% of the company, employees were given no voice in the governance of the company or in the plan itself. They’ve had no say in the terms of their own debt obligations or decisions related to how best to service that debt.
Tribune contributions to employee retirement savings for employee-owners changed from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan structured as the ESOP. Employees participating in the ESOP can’t diversify their holdings until they reach age 55.
The first of the company’s contributions to the ESOP was expected to happen in the first quarter, but now—with the Tribune mired in Chapter 11 bankruptcy—it’s unclear whether that will happen or whether those shares will have any value.
Not everyone lost on the deal. Tribune executives made millions, including CEO Dennis FitzSimons, who engineered the deal with Zell and raked in $17.7 million in severance and other payments and cashed in his stock for $23.8 million. Shareholders traded in stock rated deep into junk territory for cash representing a 21% premium over the stock price just before the transaction. The banks that lent Tribune the money shared some $47 million in fees. Citigroup and Merrill Lynch who advised Tribune on the deal received $35.8 million and $37 million respectively. And billionaire Zell, who put up only $315 million in the deal, is expected to stand ahead of employees in the creditors’ line at bankruptcy court.
One thing is for sure—the Teamsters will remain vigilant during the bankruptcy process to ensure that our members and all Tribune employee interests are advanced.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents approximately than 1,000 Tribune workers.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Officer Nominations Meeting

Meetings will be held at the Crown Plaza/Commerce Casino Hotel once again. There will be two meeting times for convienience. Those times are 10:00 am to 11:00 am and again at 1:00pm to 2:00pm.

The meetings will be held on January 4, 2009 in the "Diamond Room" See you all there.

In Solidarity.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Quality on Time.

Our Number One Priority is to get a Quality Newspaper on the street, on time or we will all pay the ultimate price. That is why it is important that we understand the language below. We are making every possible effort to work with management to resolve our current issues.

No Strike/No Lockout

Section 3.1. No Strike. (a) During the term of this agreement there shall be no strikes, Sympathy strikes, work stoppages, slowdowns, boycotts, intentional interruption of production, delays or suspension of work of any nature, and no other acts that interfere with the Company’s operations or the production or sale of it’s products or services by the Union, it’s officers, agents or members, or by the employees. During the term of this agreement there shall be no lockout of any employees by the Company.

(b) The Union agrees that it will take every effort possible to discourage, prevent and end any strike or proscribed activity and will inform all employees who participate in such activity that is their individual responsibility.

(c) Any or all employees participating in any such activity proscribed herein shall be subject to disciplinary action, including discharge. In the event that a grievance is filed with respect to activity proscribed herein, the only question before the arbitrator shall be whether the employee engaged in the proscribed activity, s/he shall have no authority to rescind or otherwise modify the discipline imposed by the Employer.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Victor Banuelos on Saveourtrade

I want to welcome Vic and I look forward to his posts. Vic, as I've said before, goes the extra mile for all of us. Vic can now get information directly to our shops via Save Our Trade's blog.

Blog Away Vic!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Local Officer Nominations Meeting

Clear your calenders for Sunday January 4, 2009 (time and place to follow) so you can attend the meeting and nominate the Brothers and Sisters you would like to serve on our New Local's Executive Board.
The positions we will be seeking nominees for are as follows:

1 President- to preside over the local and the executive board.

2 Vice President(s) one from each shop to represent their respective shop and assist the President in operating the Local.

1 Recording Secretary to record minutes of our meetings.

Secretary Treasurer to oversee the funds and resources of our Local

6 Shop Stewards 3 in each shop, 1 on each shift to enforce the contract and assist with member/management issues in the shops and also investigating and filing grievances when necessary.

I encourage everyone to participate in this process, this is democracy in action, be a part of it.

In Solidarity.

We Want Our Lunch Breaks!

I've made the decision to leave the Law in the hands of our Lawyers and I will only post Legal information from our Attorneys.

The Lunch and Rest Periods that have been missed have been brought to the attention of our Representatives and Legal Counsel.

Continue to document missed Lunches and Rest Periods.

Playing For Change: Song Around the World "Stand By Me"

Brother Reney e-mailed this to several of us in the shop and I wanted to share it with everyone because it did give me the chills as the E-mail title stated and I dare anyone to watch it and say it didn't give them the chills too. Everyone needs Someone sometime, who will you be there for? Very inspiring! Thanks Chuck!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Labor,Management Forum Held Yesterday.

Keith Denson and myself met with Russ Newton yesterday to discuss the changes that are being implemented and the way they are being implemented. I received so many phone calls yesterday with complaints of missed breaks, not being able to go to the bathroom, and that no one was allowed to sit down in L.A. for the whole shift. That is punishment and harassment in our eyes and will not be tolerated. Days off in leiu of holidays were being cancelled and the list went on. I had to charge my phone twice yesterday, and it's brand new!

We anticipate answers on these issues today as I expect Russ will discover, we were correct in the interpretation of the law pertaining to to missed lunch and rest periods, All the while the penalties will continue to add up. Several of the other issues in our eyes are valid grievances and we will persue that course of action if necessary. We will not allow ourselves to be punished for exercising our rights to representation and are more than willing to work with management to achieve the goals set for our shop. Russ feels that certain individuals are not accepting this change and are not performing. I assured him that based on conversations I've had with quite a few of our brothers and sisters, there is no problem with us working, that's our job, the manner in which we are being treated is the concern. Production stats showed a decline since Monday and this decline has nothing to do with how we perform but rather the ill prepared transition plans that did not take into account the effect these changes would have on our production routines. We will not accept responsibility for any declines in production as a result of these changes. Answers from our meeting to follow.

The previous post regarding penalties owed to employees when a lunch or rest period is missed was discussed and was supported by the Industrial Labor Posters hanging all over the building. It confirms that the company owes each employee the equivilent of 1 hour straight time pay for missed rest periods. I informed Russ that they already owe alot of presspersons for missed breaks and it will continue to grow if this matter is not corrected immediately. Jay Scott was phoned for clarification and is expected to reply to Russ. Keith, myself and Russ all read the same poster at the same time and I invite all of you to do the same. Forward your names, date and time you missed a break and we will make every effort to recover the penalties owed to each and every pressperson.

Brother Ronnie

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Answers to California Lunch and Rest Breaks

There have been many questions surrounding the lunch and rest breaks and what the actual law is. I had no idea we would have to delve into this because we were never given any indication that Management had any intention in changing how we took our lunches, minus the lenght of time. Considering the fact that they chose to follow the letter of the law, which they should, this article illustrates what they must abide by or pay the penaltys as prescribed in Labor Code section 226.7

On April 16, 2007 the California Supreme Court issued its opinion in
Murphy v. Kenneth Cole Productions. The decision greatly expanded the rights of employees to collect damages for missed meal periods and breaks.

The issue before the Court was whether the “one additional hour of pay” for a missed meal period or break provided for in Labor Code section 226.7 constitutes a wage or premium pay subject to a three-year statute of limitations (Code Civ. Proc., § 338) or a penalty subject to a one-year statute of limitations (Code Civ. Proc., § 340). The Court held that the remedy provided in Labor Code section 226.7 constitutes a wage or premium pay and is governed by a three-year statute of limitations. As a result employees can recover three years of back pay for missed meal periods and breaks instead of only one year.

Under the Labor Code virtually every employee in California is entitled to two paid ten minute breaks in an eight hour workday and a one half hour unpaid, uninterrupted meal period. “An employer may not employ an employee for a work period of more than five hours per day without providing the employee with a meal period of not less than 30 minutes, except that if the total work period per day of the employee is no more than six hours, the meal period may be waived by mutual consent of both the employer and employee.”

And, “If an employer fails to provide an employee a meal period or rest period in accordance with an applicable order of the [IWC], the employer shall pay the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each work day that the meal or rest period is not provided.”

Any one who fails to receive their lunch or rest breaks should notify supervision, also document the event and forward it to any of the committee members until we elect our permanent shop stewards to insure the penalty of 1 hour of straight time wages is paid those missing their breaks.
( Thanks to Brother Victor Banuelos for researching this matter for our members)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Los Angeles Times GCC/IBT Represented Pressroom Employees Ratify CBA 140 YES to 57 NO

Today's historic Pressroom Contract Ratification results came on the heels of another historic announcement in which it was reported that Tribune Corporation, today, filed for Bankruptcy Protection.

When it was first announced in 2006 that the Tribune Corporation was being forced to break up the company or sell it, there was no other choice than to seek whatever protections we could for our shops. Breaking up the company or selling it was not enough to instill fear as to our future and the uncertainty that goes along with it, Tribune in the same year sought to siphon another 200 million dollars from the L.A. Times Operation. It was quickly discovered that Tribune was spending almost that much for a baseball player for their beloved Cubbies . Tribune's executives and their greed has always meant only one thing, CUTS. The wounds that were caused by the closure of our Northridge shop had not yet healed over the fact that we lost another 47 brothers and sisters at that time. We could not sit idle while Tribune was going try to milk their Los Angeles "Cash Cow" again.

The events of 2006 were apparently enough to convince a hand full of individuals known to be opposed to Union Representation to approach Brother Dave Rascon and myself and asked us to launch another organizing drive. We were reluctant to risk everything once again, and to ask other brothers to do the same was not an easy decision to ask them to make, but fortunately for all of us, they had no reservations about taking those risks and our organizing committee was formed.

The Bankruptcy announcement today should be solid evidence that we did the right thing, at the right time. I am proud of everyone in our shops for ratifying our agreement today and want to say that since the day we won our election, we became part of the Teamster brotherhood and we need to embrace unity and build the solidarity necessary to strenghten our position no matter who owns us going forward.

We have a lot of work ahead, and I don't expect management to make it easy, so please be diligent in your performance and do not allow complacency to set in. Always follow all safety protocols and be conscious of your environment. Watch out for one another.

There are numerous people that should, and need to be thanked for their contribution. I will begin by thanking our brothers on the organizing committee starting with David Rascon, who has been fighting for us, and by my side from the day I met him, Dan Beruman, and his contribution during the organizing campaign, Gary Bunch, Richard Ontiveros, Jorge Ayala and Charlie Laird for their perseverance and efforts in organizing our Orange County shop, which historically was anti-union. Great job to all of you brothers for getting us to the table! Much respect and gratitude.

Our negotiation committee was always in total unity and it was my honor to sit at the table with our brothers that were elected to represent us in bargaining, David Rascon, Keith Denson, Chuck Reney, Lance Farrar, Charlie Laird, Kerry McCluskey and Mike Bassett, all of you showed me what true solidarity is and I know that all of you (with the exception of Mike and Kerry who are gone, but will never be forgotton)will continue to display the courage that I witnessed in negotiations and is needed to build a strong, unified local.

There was one individual that needs mention and that person is Victor Banuelos, Vic was always ready and willing to do whatever was necessary without hesitation and his contribution was beyond commendable. Thanks for the commitment Brother Vic, I wish everyone learns to go the extra mile as you always have.

Ed Padgett can be thanked for his blog and the avenue it provided in getting the message out and the forum to express one's opinions. Brother Berry Tillage I want to personally thank you for being my extended conscious and keeping me grounded firmly so that I could serve our bargaining unit with integrity and humility.

Sincere appreciation is not enough to thank our Union Officials beginning with GCC/IBT President/ Teamster Vice President, George Tedeschi, for having the faith in us to give us one more opportunity to finally get it right, we are all deeply indebted to you Sir. Secondly, GCC/IBT Secretary Treasurer, Robert Lacey, our thanks for devoting the resources necessary to achieve success, I know you went through quite a few pens signing checks for our campaigns.

Next, our International Representatives, beginning with Mike Huggins, I have the utmost respect for the work he does traversing this country to represent the working men and women in our trade, especially during these tough times. I will always be grateful for all that you have taught me during these negotiations, and look forward to having you represent other L.A. Times employees who may seek a CBA for their departments.
International Representative Sonny Shannon, who was originally assigned to our negotiations by President Tedeschi, was tenacious enough to beat throat cancer, and come on board midway through negotiations, a true pressman who will do anything for another pressman, Thanks for everything you've done for us at the table and everything you will be doing to help us get our local up and running successfully.

Lead Organizer Marty Keegan and I have known each other for almost ten years and he is the best at what he does, Marty knows how much he means to this bargaining unit, and visa versa, I've thanked you Marty, more times than I can remember for all that you have taught me over the years, apparently some of it did stick. This has been an amazing journey my long time brother, we've finally reached our destination. Finally, Organizer, Jorge (George) Perez, Muchas Gracias por todo hermano! Tu Saves!

During our Organizing drive, Attorney Ira (Buddy) Gottlieb filed several ULP's on the bargaining unit's behalf in which settlements were reached between the NLRB and the company that resulted in resolution to our charges. During the negotiations, Attorney's Adam Stern and Dave Meyers supplied the legal muscle we needed when things got rough. Thanks you gentlemen, I'm sure we will work together again in the future when things get rough again, which it most likely will.

Lest we forget the contribution and solidarity we received from our brothers and sisters on Long Island at NewsDay. You are no longer part of the Tribune family (lucky all of you) but every one of you will always remain part of the Los Angeles Times pressroom family. We can learn plenty from your Local 406's example and will strive for the unity that was bestowed upon our shop from yours. Thank you President Grabhorn for everything you and your Local has done for us, we are deeply grateful. Special thanks to Business Agent Mike Laspina and Chapel Chairman, Lou Nicosia for coming to Los Angeles during our organizing campaign to teach us what working under a union contract really means. We could sure use your help setting up our Local!

Our Thanks to President Doug Brown, the executive board and all of the members of Local 404 in Monrovia. Local 404 has for over a decade been there for our members when we needed them and our relationship with Local 404 will only serve to strengthen both of our locals and enable us to become a stronger voice for our trade and our members here on the west coast.

None of the people I just thanked would have been able to do what they've done for all of us here at the Los Angeles Times if it were not for ALL of the GCC/IBT Brothers and Sisters across the country, who through their dues, made the resources available for us to complete our mission.There are no words that can be found to express our gratitude, we could never have done it without every single one of you and your generosity. We are honored to be your Teamster brothers and sisters.

Next step to be announced soon.

In Solidarity!
Ronnie Pineda

Saturday, December 06, 2008

As Requested!

2008 LAT CBA Just Click on (ipaper) below for printing and download options. You can also view it full screen by clicking the icon on the top right corner of the toolbar. Your final option is to click on the link above to view the document on the Scribd website. Sorry for the delay, the site was still in maintenance mode as of 1:00 am so I chose this site instead of waiting any longer. Write all of your questions down, there obviously will be a question and answer period after the presentation. The Negotiation Committee and our Representatives asks that you wait until then to present your questions, Thank you.
In Solidarity.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Advance Copy of Contract

I hope everyone had a memorable Thanksgiving. Christmas will be here before we know it! Some of you are aware that I have been absent from the shop due to a shoulder injury. My inability to use my left arm and the Holiday weekend took me out of action briefly, but not completely. After reading your many e-mails and taking your phone calls, I have forwarded the bargaining unit's request for advance copies of the contract to our Representative Sonny Shannon and asked for a digital copy to post online.

Sonny has agreed and said that advance copies can be, and will be made available as early as Saturday December, 6,2008. Sonny apologizes and said he will explain why they could not be made available any sooner and asks that everyone please be patient. He also said that this is how he normally conducts the ratification process and does not want anyone to jump to any conclusions.

The negotiation committee asks for your understanding as well, numerous sacrafices were made to get to this point and the committee has always had, and will continue to have, the bargaining unit's interests in mind throughout this process. We also ask for your patience, everyone will have access to a copy of the contract prior to the meeting.

Meeting information is now posted in the shops.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ratification Meeting Information

The Ratification Meeting has been scheduled for Monday, December 8, 2008 at 9:00 am in Room Salon 1 at the Crown Plaza Commerce Casino Hotel located in the City of Commerce. (interactive map).
Parking is free in the rear of the hotel by taking Tubeway Ave. on the west side of the hotel/casino.

I am diligently working on getting copies for review in advance of the meeting and hope to have an on-line version available here for download.

You must attend to vote.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Almost There! Negotiations Complete.

Negotiations have concluded and an over all Tentative Agreement was reached. We are scheduling a Ratification Meeting (DATE AND TIME TO BE ANNOUNCED) in Commerce at the Commerce Casino Crown Plaza Hotel where negotiations have been held. Meeting room and meeting time information will be made available and posted in the shops and here within the next couple of days.

This will take place within the next couple of weeks so it is imperative that everyone makes the necessary arrangements to insure their attendance at this important meeting.

Everyone should know by now that only those bargaining unit brothers and sisters that attend the ratification meeting may vote on the Overall Tentative Agreement (contract) as there is no such thing as an absentee ballot voting system in union contract ratification votes. That means that a majority of ONLY those that vote will determine whether or not the contract will be ratified.

I cannot stress the importance of attending this meeting and hope that everyone possible takes this opportunity to exercise their democratic right that we have only experienced here at The Times during organizing campaigns.

All of the details of the tentative agreements will be disclosed at the ratification meeting and The International and our Representatives have asked that we refrain from presenting the information at this time. It has been their experience that by the time the ratification meetings take place, a lot of misinformation and misinterpretations flourish among the bargaining unit spreading through the shops and fails to give an accurate depiction of the actual agreements. The bargaining committee agrees and asks for your patience once again. This will guarantee everyone the facts and prevent unnecessary rumors which we all know exist and have had to disseminate throughout this process. Please respect the International's request and allow the negotiation committee to fulfill this request by with holding any and all questions until the ratification meeting. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

The Negotiating Committee appreciates all the support and patience we have received from our Brothers and Sisters in both shops and thank all of you for the honor of representing our Los Angeles Times Pressroom Bargaining Unit in these historic Collective Bargaining Agreement Negotiations.

In Solidarity,
Brother Ronnie

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Why Don't They Tell Us This Stuff?

Sam Zell's Tribune Company may start distributing The Wall Street Journal in metro areas, because it's not already enough of a giant clusterfuck over in the newspaper industry now that we need Rupert Murdoch's Journal being thrown at your door by the same guys who bring you theLA Times.
And what is Zell doing taking on this deal, which is still in "trial runs" with the local teamsters running the trucks? Didn't we just hear about how the man can't even afford his own baseball team, and now he's getting into some weird MGM/Weinstein-esque arrangement with another media baron?

Murdoch has said he plans on shutting down 10 of the 17 plants that print the Journal, and "outsource that printing to other newspapers — both the printing and the delivery." Which is a huge, but probably necessary cut, because as much as you can make fun of Murdoch for being crazy and Australian, the man knows how to run a business. Zell? Not so much.

Complete story (click here)

For Editor and Publisher story click here or link at beginning of this article.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


Today's negotiations were mentally exhausting and frustrating to say the least. We received the company's response to our 10/30/08 economic proposal and were astonished to hear them reject practically every word when most everything we proposed wasn't a far leap from where we are currently in regards to wages, benefits and retirement. The company, as expected countered and we received the company's first economic proposal. My initial reaction was that they might as well had printed it on toilet paper because that is what it appropriately should be used for.

We knew that there was going to be cost containment language in their initial proposals but it was insulting to the committee and our representatives to see what they came to the table offering our bargaining unit. For them to even begin where they did, was a slap in the face to all who print this newspaper. We had earlier offered, in extremely good faith and with extreme flexibility, language that enables the company to reap long term savings going forward with the expectation of a fair wage increase and an affordable benefits package.

This was a bit of a surprise considering how urgent they've seemed to be to get a contract. We understand that it was their first proposal, and shot back our counter proposal with what we on the committee believed to be fair and pretty much in line with where we are now. It did include a sufficient annual wage increase, and the opportunity to actually generate retirement savings in a retirement vehicle far superior to the retirement plan non-union employees have to accept.

Again, the majority of our counter proposal was rejected and the temperature began to rise. The movement displayed by the opposition in their counter proposal was so insignificant we saw no reason to drastically revise our 2nd counter proposal. We know what the bargaining unit will accept or reject when and if we get a contract to consider for ratification and will not agree to any less than what we had when we walked into negotiations one year ago.

This is just the beginning of what we expected to be difficult bargaining considering both the newspaper industry as a whole, and the economy. The company did state that there is room for them to move, but just how much remains to be seen. This is exactly why we need to strengthen our solidarity and focus on a unified body that will withstand any efforts by management to seek more from us for less. It is no secret that they indeed will be expecting more from us for the fact that my very credible sources tell me that the company is trying to weasel out of their contract with the pressroom cleaners (Network City). A thirty day notice was given to Network City in which the company seeks to terminate their contract. I was also informed that there are two years remaining on that contract. So who do all of you think will inherit those responsibilities?

Now let's discuss the obvious possibility of becoming the "printing hub" that management has spoken of and we have read about in our own paper. The "JOA" joint operating agreement" with The Orange County Register we have been hearing about and was reported in the Orange County Business Journal will no doubt result in our printing of this product. Now throw in the possibility of printing the WSJ, The San Diego Union Tribune and any other potential publication Zell is eyeballing and we can breath easier for the foreseeable near future.

This is what the company hopes to to do and we as a union should want the same and aspired to achieve this goal hand in hand. We will have the responsibility of producing these alternative products with the same quality standards expected from our Los Angeles Times customers.
There is no doubt in my mind that we in the pressroom will rise to the occasion when the time comes as we have done historically, and for that fact, we on the committee will not comprise our worth to this company. Equally, the company should not ignore the contribution we make on a daily basis, year in, year out as we've done for decades.

We called it a day to let cooler heads prevail and will resume negotiations on November 20th. That was the earliest date possible for both parties. We know that many more of our brothers and sisters have put their faith in the Union and understand that the landscape of the pressroom would be far worse now had we not organized and are aware of what will happen should we ever put our trust in Sam Zell or his minions. We cannot afford to allow this opportunity to escape us no matter what we face in negotiations, so please remain united and patient, because we have always persevered in the face of challenge. This will be by far the biggest challenge we will face together. It will take everyone to stand up for what you believe you are worth and our TRADE deserves. Accept no less, your negotiating committee won't either.

Fraternally and in Solidarity!
Brother Ronnie

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rumor Control and Negotiation Update

It was no shock to me that we lost some of our supervisors this past week. It is always terrible for anyone to lose their job, its worse just before the holidays. We have witnessed the exodus of our friends and co-workers for years now and it is always heart wrenching for most of us. As salary employees, there is no obligation for management to honor supervisors seniority in their respective position. Why the supervisors that were relieved of their post were chosen, can only be answered by those who made the decision as to who they considered expendable. Some will be missed by some, and some will be missed by all. Either way, they will be missed. I will personally miss Misty Griffin for the fact that she was always honest, fair and treated everyone with respect.

O.C. RUMOR: There have been many questions regarding the possibility of the pending Joint Operating Agreement between The Orange County Register and The Times that was reported in The Orange County Business Journal (Click for story). One main concern I have been hearing is that Pressmen from The Register will come and run their own product on our presses. We have not been given any indication from management that they are considering anything like that. I don't see how that would be a profitable venture for the company to "rent" our presses and that is essentially what something like that would be. Language we have already agreed to prevents management from hiring part-time employees to sub plant the full time workforce. All the details regarding part-time employees will be presented at the upcoming ratification meetings.

L.A. RUMOR: There are going to be more buy-outs and we are going to lose 4 crews.
Management did not state that they intend to reduce staffing at this time and it was not mentioned at the table.

Today we gave management our wage and benefit proposals and spent time discussing the new benefit package offered by management and our desire to explore coverage through either the Teamsters, the GCC or the company sponsored health care program. We also proposed a "medical opt-out program" in which the company is being asked to give a fraction of the projected per employee company medical cost back to the employee(s) wishing to opt-out of the company medical benefit. This type of reimbursement is becoming very common for companies looking to reduce their benefit overhead by allowing employees to opt-out of their company coverage. This program has saved large, self insured companies such as ours millions of dollars and it also gives the employee and their family more flexibility in medical coverage options.

The wages, benefit and pension proposals were submitted as a package proposal and it included our proposed term of the contract, a signing bonus, sick days and several other topics. The proposals are, we believe to be fair, but we are sure that the company's counter proposal will reflect managements desire to control costs. We on the committee are not ignorant to the state of our industry and the effect the economy is having on our company and are bargaining with those factors in mind. We are extremely aware of how the economy has effected each of our households as well and bargain with that in mind even more so.

We are attempting to have management redirect their retirement contributions to each employee for the purpose of reinvesting it into the Interlocal Pension Fund. For more information on the Interlocal Pension Fund (click here) There is no other plan like this and we will be able to contribute an additional pecentage above the negotiated amount contributed by the company.

With all of that said, I must remind all of you that no matter what we on the negotiating committee and our representatives agree to at the table, all bargaining unit employees will have the final word by voting on the tentative agreements reached in negotiations. If there are areas that are not acceptable to a majority of those who vote, then the committee will go back to the table and attempt to renegotiate the unsatisfactory terms. It is extremely important that everyone vote because ratification is based on a majority of those who cast a vote. Don't let only those who vote decide for you whether or not we ratify these tentative agreements.

Negotiations resume on November 6th at which time we will receive the company's counter proposal.

In Solidarity!

Monday, October 20, 2008

our right to labor

We have been in a long struggle with management and a few of our own to get a fair shake in this increasingly tough business.We have all got to stand strong and together we are getting close to the goal we set out to achieve, a fair contract to help secure our future. Bear this in mind brothers and sisters we need to work a full shift and that is the only way we can assure that the goals we have gone after in this contract last.A bust out is great but if there is not enough work we will bust out at home with out a job.Labor has been the foundation of this country from its beginning.
Quote of the day "All that serves labor serves the Nation. All that harms labor is treason to America.No line can be drawn between these two.
"If a man tells you he loves America ,yet hates labor he is a liar.
"If a man tells you he trusts America,yet fears labor he is a fool.
"There is no America without labor, and to fleece the one is to rob the other."
by Abraham Lincoln

Stay strong , brothers and sisters united for what is right and fair.
Always union strong Keith Denson

Thursday, October 16, 2008


My fellow pressman & women
As you continue to wait for negotiations to end please be patient. As i have said before along time back you are negotiating with us and we do nothing without all of you in mind and also for who we do this for. All of you. We are nearly finished with wages and med benefits left. When we finish you have the final say on this contract you must approve it. I know the waiting is the worst we will be finished soon and your concerns are heard by all of us on the committee because you don't know all the details you will soon stay strong and stand with us show your support and we will go forward together. thank you all.
your fellow pressman lance farrar

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dick Lipsett needs our help!

Dear Friends and Family:

As you may or may not know my family is having some difficulties. Eric, my son and his wife Yolanda attempted to do the right thing in obtaining permanent residence status for Yolanda. They went to the American Embassy in Juarez, Mexico on September 10, 2008, where their request was denied and Yolanda was ordered not to re-enter the United States. Since then, Eric and his family have had to live separately, Eric and their son, James (6), living in their home in Lawndale, CA so that James can continue to attend school, while Yolanda and their daughter, Analy (3) live in an apartment in Mexico about 30 miles south of the border (approximately a 3 hour drive (one way) for Eric on a good day). This separation could last for 12-18 months.

I and some other family members immediately wrote to our Senate and Congress representatives. This didn’t really accomplish much as not all are representatives even got back to us and those that did basically said they couldn’t do anything that Eric had to contact his own representatives. Unfortunately, this process took some time and the only thing it really showed me was that I have a very small voice in this government of ours.

The more I learn, the worse it gets. I like most of you would just a soon every illegal in this country was rounded up and shipped back to where they belong. Actually that's not my true feelings because I know that would be an impossible task, plus some of these people are truly outstanding assets to their communities. What I would like to see is some sort of amnesty for the ones that have been living a good clean life, paying taxes and not committing crimes. But we really can't even do that, not until we can secure our borders so that no other illegal can get into this country. What I'm learning now and I also believe Eric is learning now although he may have known this but didn't think it was such a big deal, is that Yolanda was here illegally some time within the time she's been here. It seems that she came here legally on a student visa but let it laps in between the time she was here legally on a work visa. That laps time is the problem, she was here illegally. I doubt Eric knew all the ramifications of that when he feel in love and married Yolanda, I sure didn't. I just learned today that if someone is here illegally and is caught or admits to being here illegally, they have to leave the country and are not allowed to even try to obtain a visa for ten years. Now to me, that seems like a good law, I agree with it. My objection is when a situation like Eric's happens, he a US citizen marries an illegal (knowingly or unknowingly), and there should be exceptions. And I guess there is, they are called waivers. The problem with the waivers, they take 12-18 months or more to be approved. I guess we should all know this, I guess he should have really known this; ignorance to the law is not bliss. He and his family, I and my family are definitely not blissful. Long story short, in order to have these waivers approved in an expedited manner you have to prove an extreme hardship. The American Embassy and US Government definition of extreme is that the US citizen has to be bedridden, show a health problem where the illegal spouse was taking care of the family as well as the US citizen and that without that spouse, the US citizen would then have an extreme hardship (this I obtained by talking directly with the office of my Congressman). All the rest is just a hardship, loss of the illegal spouse’s income to the family, family separation, child care, loss of monies having to support the illegal spouse in a foreign country, loss of savings for the children's education fund, loss of the US citizens 401K, possible loss of their family home, possible loss of job because Eric arrives late to work and leaves early to get his son to school, not to mention all the other added expense and inconvenience in the US citizen and his family visiting the illegal spouse on weekends and whenever they can. These are just minor hardships and won't qualify the family for a speedy approval of a waiver; the approval will probably take 12 to 18 months. So I don't hold much hope in Eric and his family getting back together before these 12-18 months are over. To me it's just ludicrous. I know a wrong was done, I know a law was broken, I know penalties should be levied, I just feel this penalty of separating a family for such an extended period of time is unjust and to extreme for a US citizen and the family to have to bear. These are just my thoughts.

We do have a petition & declaration form that Eric’s lawyer has asked him to get to all his friends, supporters and family for signature, it could help. I'm assuming that the more signatures he gets and the more declarations, it might just move him up the line and they may not have to wait the 12-18 months.

This is where I’m asking for your support. I know you all have busy lives and your opinions on this subject may differ. If you would, I’d like you to print out the attached forms. On the petition form, print your name, address, whether you’re a US citizen or permanent resident and sign above your name. I know these lines are small but please try to stay within the lines. Also, anyone can sign the petition; they don’t have to know Eric or Yolanda. They just have to want to support the petition. So please have all your family members, friends, neighbors or people from groups you may belong to sign the petition. Now you don’t have to go to all this extra work, I’ll be happy with just your signature.

You have to know Eric to write or type the DECLARATION OF YOLANDA CAMACHO-RODRIQUEZ. The attached is just a sample and Camacho is misspelled with an extra “a”. The first few sentences have to be part of the declaration, ending with I have know Eric since. The rest is in your own words. Now many of you have not seen or talked to Eric in many years but you know him and if you know him you can submit the declaration. If you feel you can write this declaration, it would be much appreciated.

Please mail the petition and any declarations to Eric by November 16, 2008 as he will need them for the interview on December 3 at the American Embassy in Juarez. Eric’s address:

Eric Lipsett
4208 W. 171st Street
Lawndale, CA 90260

Thanks for taking the time to read this; I hope you will help us.


Dick Lipsett

To download and Sign the Petition and Declaration Click here and then forward to Eric at the address above. Good Luck to Eric and Yolanda!

New Seniority List

I apologize for the confusion caused by the previous seniority list I posted. I have spent the last two days under my house repairing a drain pipe and was not able to respond to phone calls or e-mails. I played all the messages and read all the e-mails and realized that I inadvertently posted an earlier version I was working on. I had multiple lists saved on my computer from different stages of making revisions and that is where the error occured.

We gave that list to management at the last negotiations and intend to resubmit the now posted list. This list will be given to management today and will be considered a closed subject. We cannot delay submitting our list any longer. We on the committee have heard numerous inquiries over many months and we investigated and evaluated any and all requests regarding seniority number discrepancies as a result of the consolidation of our shops. We have to agree to an OFFICIAL list now, or management will decide to reject our efforts to create a fair seniority list. The time and work spent on the seniority list has been a very daunting exercise and as I said before, the purpose of doing this is fairness. Click here to view the list.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Proposed Seniority List

Seniority is the cornerstone of the Union and our Seniority Number is an important aspect of our employment. It dictates what shift we work, which also determines our days off and when we take our vacation.

Thats why there were so many complaints when a combined 3 plant seniority list was created in 2005. Many of the placement decisions made by management were deemed incorrect by our peers. Management made several revisions based on employee input, finalized the list, and proceeded with the closure of Northridge.

There were many who still felt that their seniority number was left unresolved. The company stated that the list is of little importance to them so we took the resonsibility of making the corrections that were left unresolved.

A combined L.A./O.C. Pressroom Proposed Seniority List was given to Management on October 7th after months of work collecting information and verifying dates. The committee feels this list is as accurate as possible based on the various ways management assigned start dates for pressroom employees. Our intent was to address only the alledged errors that were a result of the consolidation of our shops. This list will be considered the "OFFICIAL" seniority list and will be set in stone if agreed to by management. At this point it is only a proposed Seniority list and requires managements acceptance.

This was done in the name of fairness and it was well understood that not everyone will agree with this list either but it is our belief that it is considerably more accurate than previously.

In the event that we were not able to verify someones claims, no changes were made.
To view or download a copy of the proposed Seniority List, Click here.
In Solidarity!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Negotiation Update

Your Negotiation Committee is again pleased to report that negotiations were very, very productive. Tentative agreements were reached in Articles pertaining to Discretionary Leave, Military leave, FMLA, and Miscellaneous Articles such as Parking, Drug and Alcohol Testing Program, Security Cameras, Uniforms and Protective Equipment, Security Time and Record Cards. (No time clocks are involved in security time and record cards)

Both sides have exhibited mutual interest in keeping the negotiations moving forward and we have now moved much closer to negotiating the economics of our contract. The negotiations are now moving at a very progressive pace considering first time contracts require much more work than re-negotiating an expiring contract. At this pace, in my opinion, we have the potential to complete a contract to present to the bargaining unit for ratication before years end.

Since the beginning of our negotiations we have spent a considerable amount of time addressing what we refer to at the table as "housekeeping issues" These issues have been very diverse in their subject matter and the majority of these issues have emanated from the Los Angeles shop.
Some of these issues will remain to be of concern to the bargaining committee as they involve what we view to be questionable leadership and questionable working conditions of our peers in L.A. The most compelling evidence that there will continue to be problems in L.A. is the overwhelming differences in the way our two shops are operated and especially how employees are supervised.

We have successfully resolved many of our concerns either at the table, by filing (U)nfair (L)abor (P)ractices with the NLRB and on a couple of occassions by talking directly with Russ Newton. Going forward we have agreed to address any in house issues immediately with Russ and reserve our time at the table to negotiate the collective bargaining agreement. We have also, in the interest of continued progress, agreed to withdraw the ULP that was filed concerning an event that took place in L.A. on September 18th. This incident would be viewed as a management right by the NLRB based on managements explanation of why a crew was held back (not held over) to clean pipes .

The committee is asking that any issues that require assistance from the committee be documented on an incident report and submitted to Keith Denson or myself. On a couple of occasions at the table, I have presented information disclosed to me which was either incomplete in detail, vague and on one occassion, completely inaccurate. For that reason the committee will no longer present any issues to management without written, factual information from the individual(s) seeking assistance.

It should be no surprise to any one that by willfully disregarding safety procedures you are jeopardizing your health and future with the company by not taking safes and speed washing. Consistently transposing plates is another spotlight you place upon yourself. These practices are the main ways to appear on management's radar and should not be happening . Knowing that these are areas that supervision monitors and documents (NTF), diligence and safety must be a priority at all times.

(REVISION) Negotiations resume today October 7th & 8th and again next week on the 14th and 15th.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Targeted for Discipline

I have spent the weekend listening to stories from our brothers and sisters in Los Angeles describing the way Walker and Supervision are on a mission to find any reason to write people up. This has resulted in NTF's (note to file) which have again become an issue. Why is it that supervision can stick notes in your file and not discuss the content of these notes with the employees. These are put in your file without your knowledge denying you the opportunity to respond and challenge if wrongly accused.

When discussed with Management, it was stated that we are supposed to be notified that we were observed breaking a rule, what that rule was, and that it was going to be noted and inserted into our file. This procedure appears to not happen as many discovered when they asked to see their files or when receiving their evaluation.

These NTF's are used when preparing evaluations and in most of the stories I listened to, individuals were told they would not receive a wage increase. Is that the true reason, to save a buck and deny a raise or because they are concerned about procedures and safety? At this rate no one in Los Angeles will ever get a raise or maintain employment for that matter.

Two Operators have recently been pulled from their crews for alleged poor performance, again being held responsible for what are most likely mechanical or electrical problems with the equipment. There are so many variables when problems occur and I believe the percentage that are a result of human error are far lower than all others, but that don't matter because they can't write up and discipline the presses. For the longest time operators have argued that smaller runs result in higher waste percentages and some goals they are expected to meet are unrealistic, yet they are accountable for the waste.

The one resounding message that came from the conversations I had with our brothers and sisters in L.A. was that Walker creates a hostile environment in their shop. They feel like they are being harassed by supervision at the hand of Walker. I have been told that even his supervisors question his leadership, but they don't dare cross him or they will be subject to his disciplinary tactics as well. His tactics aren't new, they are reminiscent of his behavior at the San Diego Tribune. When at a rally in San Diego I had the opportunity to speak to some of our brothers in the pressroom and they said they were sorry that we ended up with "STUMPY" His style of management still leaves a bad taste in their mouths just talking about him, they said.

The issues I was made aware of this weekend have been forwarded to our Representatives and we will seek answers and where necessary, resolution. Until then all of you have to be diligent and work as though your job depends on it, because it does!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Employers have made "Union Busters" DISGUSTINGLY RICH by retaining their services to rob employees from ever being able to make a decision free from Propaganda, Lies, Fear, Intimidation, and Captive Audience Anti-Union Meetings in the workplace. Union organizers cannot force the same employees to come to Union Organizing Meetings. Employers pay you to listen obviously because they're always held during work hours. Secret Ballot Elections for Union Representation give Employers time to let the Union Busters get in and do their dirty work by coaching Management on how to defeat the Union organizing effort by their employees. Many times in doing so, their tactics teeters on the law. The Employee Free Choice Act will allow employees to organize an Union in their workplace simply by signing an Authorization Card for Union Representation instead of for an Election. So if a majority of employees signs cards authorizing Union Representation, then the next step would be certification and then, negotiations. That's where we are today, and this video has some hilarious similarities to what we've heard and seen here over the years, and what it could become or worst without Representation. So if you have this uncontrolable urge to sign something,

Friday, September 19, 2008

Selfish Opportunists

I know that the knuckleheads that are trying to bring union representation to a halt are only doing so to protect their own personal interests.

Someone who steals money from the company by manipulating the office enabling himself to pick up overtime shifts at his whim should be more concerned about senior management finding out about this fact (and so should be the supervisors that are aware of it). Earn your money fairly and honestly first, then tell us what is good for the rest of us. I was told only last week by a couple of confidential sources that he removed a trainer's name from an overtime shift as an operator, replacing it with his own name, only to have a supervisor later remove it and return the trainer's name. No big deal, he was given an overtime shift the following afternoon. I'm curious, did anyone sign up for overtime that afternoon with less overtime? Most likely. So he not only steals from the company, he tried to take money out of the pocket of a fellow pressroom employee.

Don't listen to his bullshit or succumb to his threats, he is ONLY doing this to maintain the sweetheart deal that he has enjoyed for way too long. Practically everyone in the Orange County pressroom has stated that he should have been terminated or put at the bottom in seniority when he cried to be let out of the office, only after crying to get in there. Why didn't he stay in the office? That's where he is all the time anyway! Why the company allows this is still a mystery. He told me over the phone, that he had an ORAL agreement, (the rest of us usually refer to that as a VERBAL agreement). Does any one besides him in the bargaining unit have expressed agreements with management? Didn't think so. With whom is this so called oral agreement? Kurtich? He's gone, and besides, Kurtich wouldn't have had the authority to make any such deal according to the company's "At Will employment policy, which states that any agreements between employees and management must be in writing and signed by the Publisher.

Now for the rat, I mean snitch, I mean other knucklehead. This one said "as long as Walker is in charge in L.A. I won't sign a de-certification petition" As far as I know, Walker is still in L.A.

I knew it was crap when it came out of his head. I have never trusted this one and was warned not to trust him (among others) the day I arrived in O.C. I have had painful conversations with him and I'm convinced he doesn't have a clue, and also thinks only about himself.

The machine shop wants him to stay the hell out of there and quit taking people off the press to sign your petition when they're supposed to be working, by the way, so are you.

Essentially you have an individual who couldn't handle it behind the desk, and the other that can't stay out from under it asking you to risk everything, when they themselves will benefit for their participation in this petition circulation.

Since coming to Orange County, I have NEVER heard a good thing said about either of these people and would not trust them for shit, and neither should any of you. Did everybody in O.C. forget how pissed off all of you were when one of these two knuckleheads was allowed to return to the floor with ALL of his seniority after being in management for approximately two years? I have the letters and petitions that were signed by many of you at that time, and I hope that if your name was on that petition, it won't be on this petition.

He didn't give a shit about what you thought or felt then, and he sure as hell don't give a shit about what you think now! Don't do their bidding, and don't sign the petition!

September 17th & 18th Negotiations Update

Negotiations resumed on September 17th and 18th at which time many more tentative agreements were reached. This is extremely satisfying considering the rough road we were on early in negotiations. We reached tentative agreements regarding Hours of work and Overtime. We addressed some of the miscellaneous provisions from the company's proposals including uniforms, safety shoes, parking and security cameras as well.

The Economics of our contract will be negotiated very soon. Those negotiations will deal with wages, benefits and retirement. At this time, bargaining unit employee raises will be covered and we intend to negotiate a wage package that will provide the financial stability we need to continue to provide for our families.

This round of negotiations, as well as our previous round of negotiations proved to be extremely fruitful and much was accomplished. We on the committee feel that we made up for lost time and are on schedule to complete this process in the anticipated time frame. Negotiations began less than a year ago and we are right where we expected to be in negotiations. For the record, first time contracts are known to take longer than other negotiations, so the elapsed time is not unusual for where we currently are. For this reason, it is foolish to even consider tampering with the progress made in contract negotiations.

We on the committee and our Representatives are very aware of the fact that raises are a priority for our bargaining unit. What kind of a raise should also be a priority, and it is with your elected committee, we want a raise too! We want to be sure it will be an increase that we will actually be able to benefit from financially.

Past raises under Tribune have done absolutely nothing to enhance our spending power, especially when they take it right back in the form of benefit cost increases. They give it with one hand, and take it back with the other. Merit Raises are not in our best interest as proven by the favoritism that is exhibited by supervision and management. All the Suck asses get the higher percentages, and do nothing extra to deserve it, at least not in the form of work.

The evaluation process which determines whether you get one or not, is rife with favoritism as well as discrimination, plus, your wages depend on the same supervisors (and a certain superintendent) (that can, and do target employees for discipline) to prepare your evaluation.

How many of you got a shitty evaluation this time around? Is that because your work habits changed, or the person doing your evaluation changed. I wish some of these supervisors that came from our ranks would remember where they came from and the type of workers they were when they were in our boots. I'm surprised some supervisors are actually in those positions considering their performance as pressmen (I use the term loosely), yet they are given the responsibility of judging our work performance. Ask anyone in L.A. about the evaluations they just received and also ask if they disagree with this process.

A "General Raise" across the board if the FAIREST way to receive a wage increase. Don't let these two numb skulls talk you into signing the petition because as I said, they will be rewarded for screwing everyone (if they succeed) and everyone is as Sam would say "FUCKED"
Please be patient, as I said, we intend to negotiate a raises that will be both fair and financially beneficial. The committee needs your support to be successful in this endeavor and ask that you allow us to complete our mission to negotiate a fair collective bargaining agreement for all of us.

Remember, everyone will have the right to vote on the tentative agreements reached in contract negotiations and if less than a majority agrees to ratify it, we will go back to the table. If a majority approves, then it will be ratified. Representation has cost us not a penny and won't until we agree on a contract. At least wait to see the contract. The negotiating committee has your's and your families best interest at heart and will continue to work hard to achieve success.
Don't sign the petition, or have your name removed if you have.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ex-Times reporters sue Zell

Kevin Roderick
I'm told that lawyers representing current and former Los Angeles Times newsroom staffers are filing a class-action federal lawsuit against Sam Zell and Tribune this morning in Los Angeles, alleging breaches of fiduciary duty, conflicts of interest and other violations of ERISA, the law that safeguards the proper handling of retirement benefits like pensions and trusts. The plaintiffs include several familiar bylines and at least one current Times star. A team has been looking into Zell's leveraged takeover of Tribune almost since he used employee money to get the company.
Details to come.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Don't Sign The Petition!

(Originally Posted) Friday, September 22, 2006

"Employment at will" While it is hoped that your employment with the Company will be mutually rewarding, your employment relationship with the Company is at-will.This means that either you or the company may terminate this relationship at any time, for reason, with or without cause or notice. At-will employment also means that the Company may make decisions regarding other terms and conditions of employment at any time with or without cause or notice including but not limited to demotion, discipline, promotion, transfer, compensation, benefits, duties and location of work. Any agreement for employment for any specified period of time or for any promises or commitments contrary to the foregoing can only be made by a company officer. Any such agreement that changes your at-will employment status must be explicit, in writing, and signed by both you and the Publisher of the Company to be enforceable.
Source: Los Angeles Times Employee Handbook

This is why you need to sign a card and vote yes!

(end of post)

I hope you read the language in green closely, it explicitly describes a collective bargaining agreement. We negotiate everything else in blue.

As "At Will" employees, the company has the right to change our wages, benefits and working conditions....AT WILL! We have earned the right to negotiate those areas of our employment and have successfully managed to maintain essentially "status quo" losing nothing, costing us nothing. We have already seen the many benefits of having representation thus far and the results of an actual true voice. Ask our brothers and sisters in L.A. how many times Walker has attempted to make unilateral changes to their shop, and those changes ceased. we have filed Unfair Labor Practices that resulted in a settlement between the company and the N.L.R.B. which had conditions reversed, allowing us to leave when we complete our assigned work and also prevented management from assigning additional clean-up work at the end of the runs. Don't forget the meal tickets, and for those of you who talked shit, you took and used the ones you were given, and continue to accept them. None of you have spent a single penny and won't spend a penny unless a majority of us ratifies a contract. Don't sign the petition!

Let's see what the contract looks like before we screw ourselves out of the opportunity of negotiating one. We have never been in a position like this before and we must seize this opportunity to claim some control over our wages, benefits and working conditions.
Don't sign the petition!

The Teamsters are the strongest union in the nation and we can rest assured that they will continue to stand steadfast by our side to see to it that we get a fair collective bargaining agreement. All of us need to do the same.
Don't sign the petition!

As I stated in the previous post, we made great progress in the negotiations reaching agreements in very important areas of our contract. This is very promising going forward and certainly is not the time for them to interfere with the progress and impede the process.
Don't sign the petition!

The question to ask the individuals circulating a de-certification petition for signatures is, Why? What are their reasons for wanting to de-certify our election? I have heard they can't even give an intelligent reason for their actions and they're not going to tell you the truth behind their motives anyway. I acknowledge that they have a right to do this, but are their intentions for the good of everyone in the pressroom, or for their own selfish reasons? It should be totally obvious to everyone (because of who they are) that these individuals don't care about any one in the pressroom and are willing to jeopardize all the hard work that has been done in negotiations for their own benefit.
Don't sign the petition!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Back on Track!

I am pleased to say that negotiations appear to be back on track and were very productive. TA's (Tentative Agreements) were reached on language pertaining to management rights, union security, dues checkoff and seniority. We have previously reached agreements on grievance and arbitration as well as union recognition. These topics are considered pillars of a union contract and the committee is very happy that we were able to move forward this round. The company displayed considerable movement, as did we, and we created proposals that addressed both of our concerns. This progress will enable us to get closer to the economics of our contract which will be understandably more difficult to negotiate considering the industry as a whole.

The company's written response to our request for information regarding raises given to non-union production employees is still in the capable hands of our attorney in Washington and we await his determination as to how to proceed.

Walking in webs at end of shift (L.A.)
The new practice of walking in the webs after washing blankets to replace washed out webs will no longer continue. Management agreed to stop this practice and stated this was done due to an increase in the number of webs being washed out. They went on to say that if it webs continue to be washed out they will consider this practice again. I presented the argument that we would prefer to wash our own blankets after lining up and the benefits of doing so. We will continue to discuss this topic and hopefully we can return to washing blankets based on what we know, not what they think.

Seniority list
Management has expressed little concern over the seniority list but recognizes that we need an acurate seniority list. They were willing to leave it as is and take the heat, or I can submit another list and take the heat. My view is that if we can correct the obvious errors, there should be no heat to take. Any one who feels they are out of position based on the most recent seniority list needs to, once again provide the details in writing so that a formal proposal to make those changes can be prepared and delivered to the company at the next negotiations in September. That gives us approximately one month to receive written requests from anyone currently out of position. ONLY THE INDIVIDUALS WHO PROVIDE WRITTEN DETAILS WILL HAVE THEIR CONCERNS ADDRESSED.
If you would like a current copy of the seniority list, contact Keith Denson or myself.
E-mail your written details to to have your seniority reviewed and considered for revision. Management will make the actual decisions to modify an individuals seniority based on the employee provided written details and employment records on file.
Let's put this one to bed once and for all, so get me your written details quickly so I can draft the proposal asking management make the necessary corrections.

In closing, I would ask that each of you step up your game and do your job to the best of your ability. It is our job to leave our shops clean at the end of our shift. Cleaning is part of our job and should be done, not only because we get paid to do so, but rather out of courtesy to our brothers or sisters that follow us on the next shift. This is your shop and a little pride will go a long way. Sweeping our pits, picking up and emptying the trash and mopping up oil is not only part of our job, it makes our shops much safer for everyone.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Vacation Over, Back to the Table

Vacation over and I'm another year older, I won't bore you with what I did. Calls from L.A. brothers about a change in our practices at the end of the shift came to me last week involving a new practice in L.A.'s. pressroom. Leads now have to be walked in after washing blankets to deter washing out the webs. Does management actually give a crap, when we, not them, have to pick them up. This is another way for supervision to police our work and will give management another way to pit us against one another. How will the individuals that wash out webs be viewed by the rest of the crew when the leads have to be put back in before going home? Now add a couple of bars.

It's obvious a complaint was lodged with the office that previous shifts are washing out webs. This is part of the job and happens on every shift and no one should feel compelled to complain when it happens to them. Blankets can be washed without washing them out, if they are done right, but how many of us actually washes the blankets right knowing that we go home as soon as we're done? It is part of our job and we should be washing them thoroughly for quality purposes, but does not justify the change without collective bargaining.

The appropriate, and only solution would be to go back to washing before the run. This would ensure that washing will be done properly and give supervision the opportunity to inspect the blankets if they chose to. If the blankets need further cleaning that can be addressed while the employee assigned to that particular unit is still there. If a lead is washed out, you pick up your own leads, not leads washed out by the previous crew because they were anxious to bolt out of there as quickly as possible. Washing before the run as we used to do has been suggested many times to management and is considered by Russ as only a way to get a bigger bust-out. This was the standard prior to Walker changing the washing process back in 2003 and should be reversed at this time because it hasn't seemed to slow anyone down and it will guarantee clean blankets everyday, every run. We have proposed this in our overall contract proposal and will pursue this change further today.

We will have more information pertaining to the company's written response to our request for information regarding the recent raises given to non-union production employees as soon as the committee meets with our representative Sonny Shannon today. The written response was being reviewed by our attorney in Washington and President Tedeschi. We on the committee are just as anxious as are all of you to learn what our options are in this matter.

I personally hope that the company comes to the table today with a willingness to salvage the progress we felt we had made right up until the closing hour of our last negotiations. As I stated in a previous post, we had expressed a willingness to show some flexibility and it was not fully reciprocated in their latest proposal regarding seniority. Flexibility has been their number one request, yet they have shown none. We are expected to respond to their latest package proposal and will pick up where we left off.

News from this round of negotiations will be posted after we conclude on Wednesday.

Is the new Publisher a Union Guy?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympics on Saveourtrade

I thought this was a cool widget to allow SOT visitors to catch up on the Olympics. Enjoy.

Exclusive Summer Olympics news & widgets at NBC!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

"No Go" tiations!

First, I apologize for the delay in getting this information posted, so let's get started. The latest negotiations which took place on Wednesday July 30th and Thursday July 31st were expected to be very productive on our part, considering where we left off previously. We had essentially felt that a positive dialog had begun and presumed that we would both negotiate from a "mutual interest" point of view.

We began at the table Wednesday morning by receiving the company's reponse to our information request pertaining to the recent "Hybrid" merit raises given to non-union production employees. The legal jargon we've been given in response to previous requests was again being recycled in this response as if it is memorized and put on a rubber stamp for convienience. That being said, our Legal Representatives will review their written response and instruct our Rep's Sonny and Mike as to how we should proceed on this subject. Any wage increase we propose will include that it be retroactive to raises currently being given.

We have expressed an opposition to merit based wage increases from the very beginning because of the evaluation process that is used to determine the eligibilty of an employee to recieive an increase, and the amount of an individual's potential increase based on his or her evaluation. We believe everyone will agree that this process has proven to cater to favortism and also believe you would agree that a "general" wage increase across the board is the only fair method of implementing a wage increase.

As we had previously discussed at the table, and agreed to, Sonny and I, along with the company's representives, Tim Fair and Russ met in "side bar" off the record, thus I cannot devulge the actual conversations that took place during this procedure. Without giving any details of the conversation, Sonny and I listened to items the company considered "deal breakers" and they simply would not consider agreeing to. We listened closely to their concerns and feel that we were willing give some ground to move the negotiations forward and show good faith. This procedure took the better part of Wednesday, and Sonny and I both left the side bar feeling that it was extremely productive and looked forward to getting back to the table, and back on record.

Thursday's negotiations began early with much anticipation. Seniority was an issue we discussed in previous negotiations and felt we were getting close to an agreement at that time. In the final hour, the company decided they would propose to classify each position and in the event of staffing reductions, the lowest seniority pressperson in a specific classification would be laid off first. We said we would agree to that concept if they would agree to "bumping rights" which would allow a senior pressperson who's job classification experiences a reduction in staffing to bump someone with less seniority outside of that classification, thus resulting in the last man in, first man out. Their pat answer of "we're not interested" and their unwillingness to agree to reverse seniority without classification caused this subject to be set aside.

Sonny felt that this topic (seniority) was a good place to begin on Thursday morning and would also be used to gauge the company's movement in the negotiations in general, simply because this issue does not have an economic impact on the company one way or another.
We have stood fast on the principle of reverse seniority in the event of staffing reductions. The company representatives have sought to layoff and recall according to skills and ability.
The problem with their approach, like merit raises, allows for favortism. Another concern of our's with this concept is, who will be responsible for determining one's skills and abilities?
Management? Supervision? Sam Zell? Again favortism surfaces.

We prepared and presented a "package proposal" giving the company the "management rights" they sought with the inclusion of language that would prevent their mgt. rights from superceeding the agreements contained in the contract. In exchange we were asking for seniority language which included reverse seniority in the event of staffing reductions, union security, which requires union membership to work in our shops, and dues check off, requiring the company to deduct union dues from members payroll and forward those dues to the local.
Remember, all union dues are tax deductable and we don't pay dues until we ratify a contract.

Our package proposal was rejected, and the company presented a counter proposal in which they sought to protect up to 15 individuals they deemed "high performers" they would like to retain in the event of layoffs. This number amounted to 6% of the 248 workforce employed in the pressrooms. Our first reaction was, again, favortism will flourish under this concept. Sonny challenged their number of 15 and used a hypothetical layoff of 20 individuals and illustrated that if they could protect 15 of the 20, they would actually receive 75% protection for their favorites from being laid off. There was no way we would even consider this and counter proposed, for the purpose of moving forward, a 1 in 20 ratio that would allow them to protect 1 in 20 if a layoff were to occur. So in order for them to save 1 of their high perfomers, a minimum of 20 individuals would have to be targeted for layoff. If 39 positions are being eliminated, they would still only be able to protect 1 high performer.

Another section of their proposal contained new language which would essentially strip the union of it's "jurisdiction" and allow the company to bring in any one they choose to run our presses without them having to join the Teamsters. The extreme danger of this language would also allow the company to send our work outside the buliding to other workers without recourse. This language was introduced, once again, in the final hour mucking up the progress we had felt we were making. Sonny became very irate with the company representatives for attempting to introduce this language knowing that this would be highly scrutinized and rejected by our side of the table. The company came with another counter proposal eliminating the protections for high performers, and gave us reverse seniority, but was not interested in removing the language that trampled on the unions jurisdiction. This package proposal by the company was made with the stipulation that if rejected, it would be retracted. Sonny accused them of intentionally throwing a wrench in the process by doing so and broke off negotiations for the day.

Sonny, Mike, President Tedeschi and our Legal Team in Washington will review our last proposal and the company's as well, and determine how to proceed. I trust they will hammer out a plan that will put our negotiations on the track it needs to be on to achieve our goal of negotiating a "fair" collective bargaining agreement. Stand fast and be patient, we'll can get there together, in solidarity!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Close, but no cigar!

After hearing so much about the unclaimed lotto ticket that expired today I decided to check a ticket my wife and I bought on the anniversary of our certification, June 11th. As I looked at the ticket, I first checked to see if the mega number was there, and it was,15. The next number I checked for was number 14, it too was there! I continued to read and the third and fourth numbers were also there, 30 and 39. Am I seeing right? The next number 42 had to be there, and it was! The final number we needed.............. 31, .........too bad, we have 41. Close but no cigar. $11,000,000.00 was one number away, ten to be exact. No one hit all the numbers in this drawing and it rolled over. I consider this a great omen because of the day the ticket was purchased and hope that luck comes to all that read this.

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