Thursday, January 31, 2008

Clarification

Termination of Seniority

Russ put out the latest Negotiation Update in which he lists topics discussed at the table. The termination of seniority does not mean we discussed eliminating seniority, but rather when seniority can be terminated. For example, if your employment is terminated, obviously so is your seniority. Another example discussed was if an individual were layed off for 6 months, his/her seniority would terminate. If this individual is called back to work prior to the 6th month, seniority would be restored. That is the extent of the discussion at the table pertaining to the company's proposal. There has been no agreement to this topic.

Seniority List

The committee did receive a second seniority list from managements committee which shows pressroom employees hire date(s). There are two dates listed, one referred to as a "legacy" hire date and a "company" hire date.

The Legacy date is the date of hire in the department as an "Apprentice"
This does not account for hire dates as "Utility" or "General Helper"
Some individuals, as a result of the Northridge Closure and 3 plant seniority list remain out of seniority position due to errors in hire dates.
Management attempted to resolve these errors, and after 4 revisions the list was closed to further revisions.

We are now in the position to correct these errors once and for all. As Russ stated, the list is not set in stone and we are asking that all individuals with an issue regarding their current seniority number, contact a committee member and provide a written discription of where you are on the list, and where you believe you should be.

Once this list is agreed upon at the table it will be considered an "OFFICIAL" Seniority List and will be the only opportunity to make the corrections sought by those who were negatively affected by seniority errors.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Looking for something to do Tonight?

My cousins Eddie and Anthony Valdivia created this band, or should I say they Invented this band. The Music they invent is original and very much worth listening to. There are influences in their music and lyrics as far apart on the spectrum from the The Beatles to Nirvana and every alternative band in between. I'm Proud of my young cousins and their accomplishments and know that they have what it takes to make it.

You can find them on MySpace and YouTube if you'd like to hear some of their music now.

So if you're out and about make it over to Pomona and I'll buy you a beer, sorry, no pizza! (INSIDE joke for those who are OUT of their minds!)

See you tonight in Pomona!

Monday, January 21, 2008

YOU NEED TO KNOW, SO HERE WE GO!

My brothers and sisters in the pressroom, here is where we are currently.

UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICES

Teamster Representative Mike Huggins, our Attorney, Adam Stern and myself have been diligently addressing several "Unfair Labor Practice" charges with the NLRB and are preparing to file additional charges for imposing the Smoker and Spousal Fees on our bargaining unit members who smoke and/or have coverage for their spouse when coverage is available through the spouse's employer. Those Fees are benefits changes and are subject to collective bargaining, and we did not negotiate these fees, or agree to them. As has been said numerous times before, nothing can be changed, or taken away without negotiations and agreement by both the committee and the company. Our sister papers such as Newsday and The Baltimore Sun are also Teamster represented and have filed ULP's as well challenging these ridiculous fees.

We filed charges for unilateral changes to our working conditions when In Los Angeles our brothers and sisters were instructed to wash blankets twice during their shift when the previous crew is relieved or unable to wash at the end of their run and again at the end of their respective run. Never have we been required to wash twice per shift. This was done, we believe to punish the bargaining unit for voting for representation, and NOT a quality issue as management states.

This has caused missed lunches and also violates the settlement agreement in which the company stated "We will continue to allow employees to leave early when the work we assign them is completed" That does not mean they can change the work they assign us either!

A charge was filed for having crews change over and stand-by for absolutely no valid reason other than to prevent employees from "leaving early" This unilateral change could only be viewed as punishment as well for the same reason stated earlier and also violates the settlement agreement in the same fashion. We all know that there are occassions when this practice is warranted and it was absent in these times.

We filed another charge for Seniority issues where individuals seniority is ignored when being assigned to a crew or when filling a vacant spot on a crew.

Sworn Affifidavits were provided to the NLRB on these ULP's and we await their decision. We will keep you posted as these charges go forward.

INCIDENT REPORTS

The Negotiation Committee Members have received numerous calls and complaints about questionable decisions and actions by management and immediate supervision seeking assistance and resolution. I have personally received many of those calls and have taken them to the negotiation table in attempts of immediate resolution. The Committee has spent a considerable amount of time at the table addressing these matters and wish to address them in house instead . This will allow us to negotiate a contract as opposed to addressing individual situations. To do this, we are asking that the "Incident Report" we created be used to document concerns that may be considered unfair labor practices or unfair treatment by management. The incident reports can be found at http://www.saveourtrade.com/ under links and resources or by clicking here on INCIDENT REPORT. Return completed reports to any of the negotiation committee members.


SIGN IN SHEET DISCLAIMER

"I confirm with my signature on this time document that the time reported is accurate and depicts actual time I worked each day".

This disclaimer appeared on our sign in sheets approximately one month ago. We were not notified as to the addition of this disclaimer or the reason it was added. It's language is very concerning because it legally binds you by signing in for work. It also opens the door to have management sign us out at the end of our runs and we, with our signature are bound by those times. I immediately informed Mike Huggins and our Attorney Adam Stern about this disclaimer and we filed an unfair labor practice charge on this issue. It is my understanding that the company's Attorneys have contacted the NLRB and are proposing a settlement in this matter. The only settlement that will be acceptable is to remove the disclaimer from our payroll sign in sheets. We will keep you informed on this as it progresses.


RETIREMENT/ STATUS QUO

Many were wondering what was going to happen to our Retirement Plan now that the Tribune 401 K Retirement Plan converted to a "Cash Balance Plan" and we are now supposedly
co-owners in the ESOP. We asked those questions at the negotiation table, and as we stated, everything is to remain the same, including our retirement. We are still receiving retirement benefits under the Tribune 401k and you may continue to contribute into this plan if you wish. The discount Tribune stock is obviously no longer available for purchase and is being paid out to those who purchased and owned that stock by CompuShare.

We are not currently participants in the "New" ESOP and will address the ESOP when we negotiate our retirement benefits.

Back to Blogging

Let me begin by apologizing for being away from the blog.

I have been constructing a wooden swing set for my granddaughter. There are a thousand parts and a million nuts and bolts and it's almost complete, (missing parts, waiting for delivery).
I know some of you think I only eat, breath and live union, but I do have a life and a family, that is why I do what I do. My grand baby is the reason I live and breath and I would do anything to insure her safety and future. She say's "grampa is my best friend" and she truly is mine.

All of you grand parents understand exactly what I'm saying!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Negotiations

Mike Huggins has warned us that this would be a tedious process and that most likely the companies aim was decertification, and that we had wait and give them the benifit of the doubt.
That time is coming to pass.
I've read the postings that a group of pressman and a negotiator who's not a Lawyer were up against Times Management and Tribune Lawyers.
Be patient and bear in mind that the Teamsters have over 360 contracts with newspapers in the U.S. and Canada. Their Lawyers are well versed in negotiating and will be called in to play when the time comes.
I've also heard that we will not be get anything more than what we have already.
If this comes to pass then this is a win. Just look at the list of the things we have lost.
If that list grows no more- Victory?
Another concern was the state of the newspapers and declining profits.
Seems to be enough profits to give rediculous Bonuses and Golden Parachutes to the gifted that can only concieve of reducing the size the paper and the reduction of staffing.
Most companies would envy a 20% profit margin.
When management makes sacrifices ,then they have the right to ask the same of us.

Till then,
Charlie

Monday, January 14, 2008


Dear Mr. Pineda:

Thank you writing about changes to media ownership rules. I appreciate hearing from you.

The effects of allowing a smaller number of companies a larger share of the media market concerns me. Any loosening of media ownership rules could seriously impact both the structure of the media sector and the relative negotiating power of individual companies. I am concerned that deregulation will put more power into the hands of media conglomerates, which could lead to neglect of local programming, eliminate competition, and reduce diversity of programming in the broadcast industry.

I have introduced legislation with Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) which would force the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to postpone any changes to media ownership rules until it takes steps to promote the broadcast and carriage of local programming by broadcasters, and to increase independent women and minority ownership representation. It would also require the FCC to wait at least 90 days before voting on a proposed rule change and to provide at least 60 days for public comment on it.

Please know I pay close attention to all proposed changes to media ownership rules and I will do what I can to ensure a competitive, pro-consumer marketplace. If you have any further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to call my Washington, D.C. staff at (202) 224-3841. Best regards.


Sincerely yours,
Dianne Feinstein

United States Senator

Getting Up To Speed!

I intend on posting seperate posts for the different topics that were discussed at the recent Chapel Meetings with our International Representative Mike Huggins.
Those posts will be on the following topics:
1. Retirement/Status Quo
2. Unfair Labor Practices, NLRB/L.A.Times Settlement
3. Seniority/Crew assignments
4. Smoker/Spousal fees
5. Shop Stewards
6. Incident Reports
7. Sign in Sheet Disclaimer/ULP
8. Solidarity.
9. Decertification efforts by mgt.
If you can't wait, ask someone who was there, they will be more than happy to share the information with you. You can also plan to attend future Chapel Meetings to assure you get all the news and information firsthand and full strength.

Missed Meeting Mike?

Most of you were aware we held meetings to introduce our International Union Representative Mike Huggins. Those of you who were present took the opportunity to ask questions of Mike and received his honest responses.

He was asked about his experience with the Union, which spans thirty years. Mike was elected President of his Local servicing over thirty contracts. Mike has also wore the hat of an Organizer and won many organizing drives bringing representation to numerous shop.

Mike currently negotiates for several newspaper bargaining units and is more than qualified to negotiate alongside our elected employee committee members. The committee is confident in Mike, his credentials and the leadership he has displayed thusfar. We are equally confident that Mike will continue to lead us in the right direction.

Mike was asked "how long do you think this will take?" (negotiations) Mikes reply was that this can and will take some time. He recommended patience and warned against managements attempt to stall and cause the bargaining unit to lose faith in the process, the negotiating committee, and our representative.

All efforts by management and their lackeys to set the stage for a "decertification" drive rest on buying into their feeble attempts of discrediting the union. Mike represents US at the table and his credibility has been proven to many of us already.

Mike's resounding message was solidarity and the importance of maintaining and building support for both the Union and the negotiations. The adage "united we stand, divided we fall"
was emphasized and the fate of our success lies in that message.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Another Lie on the way out the door!

More Given to Ex-Tribune Chief

From Chicago Tribune, January 4, 2008
By Michael Oneal

Former Tribune Co. boss Dennis FitzSimons will receive a previously unreported payout of around $3 million, triggered when he stepped down Dec. 20 as the media conglomerate’s chairman, president and chief executive, according to public filings and sources close to the situation.

The new payout brings to approximately $17.7 million the severance and other payments FitzSimons has received as a result of Tribune’s recently completed $8.2 billion deal to become a private company owned by an employee stock ownership plan and controlled by billionaire Sam Zell.

Tribune had reported earlier that it would pay FitzSimons $10.7 million in severance and almost $4 million more to offset the taxes generated by that severance payment.

The new payment is FitzSimons’ share of a $25 million pool of money negotiated by Zell and Tribune to provide incentives for Tribune executives to complete the going-private transaction and stay on through the first “transition year,” sources said.

Click here for the whole story. on freepress.net

( Dennis said that he was going to forfeit this money back when it was announced that he along with 38 executives were going to divide approximately 269 million dollars and profit from the sale to Sam Zell.) I guess Fitzsimons changed his mind........3 million times!

Back in April '07, I posted "Where does all the money go" Six days later Fitzsimons went on record saying he would not accept this money when the sale was completed. Follow this link, or click on the cash below to my archived story on his decision and reversal of fortune. I'm sure he thinks we forgot. Maybe he'll keep his word and give it back so we can fund our contract proposals and make some necessary repairs to our equiptment.



Unity is our strongest weapon

Solidarity Counts

Managers, company presidents and supervisors have numerous resources available to them to accomplish their goals, they belong to associations and coalitions that help advance their objectives. Workers, on the other hand, have only their numbers to protect them, and the numbers by themselves do not insure success. It requires that the workers act in unison to achieve better wages, hours and working conditions.

The union is only as strong the members who make up the unit. The best negotiator in the world cannot achieve a good contract without the support of the members. If you look at the structure of most organizations and analyze the source of power, the importance of mobilization and participation becomes clear.

Before they were protected by labor laws or a grievance procedure, workers found that they were able to accomplish their goals through “ concerted activity.” concerted activity was deemed destructive, therefore, both labor and management agreed to abide by collective bargaining, mediation, grievance, and arbitration procedures to insure highly competitive and productive companies.

Unfortunately, management’s attitude toward the very procedures that were designed to keep workplace conflict peaceful has deteriorated. A central tactic in their strategy to undermine the strength of organized workers is delay. Delay in bargaining, delay in grievance handling, delay in mediation, delay in board hearings, and delay in addressing crucial safety and security issues.
Sometime, the only way to demonstrate to management the importance of following the proper procedures in a timely manner is to show what happens when workers flex their muscles or use concerted activities. Acting together can be done in a number of very creative ways as long as the group activity is well planned, well supported and part of an overall strategy.

(source: GCC/IBT Literature)
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