Friday, May 30, 2008

Advertiser Letter

Dear Respected Los Angeles Times Advertiser,


We, the presspersons of the Los Angeles Times are currently in negotiations with the company to bargain a first time contract with the newspaper. We chose to be represented by the Graphic Communications Conference / International Brotherhood of Teamsters (GCC/IBT).

Negotiations began on November 1ST 2007 with no significant progress and as of this date, we arrived at the conclusion that the LA Times management bargaining committee has absolutely no desire to negotiate fairly with its workers and our union.

We understand that all newspapers are currently struggling in this economic environment, but so are its workers. This newspaper continues to generate a profit, yet we gave concessions in the range of 1.8 million dollars last month. We do care about the LA Times and our ability to produce one of the finest newspapers in the world for both our subscribers and advertisers.

This letter is to advise you, our advertiser, that the GCC/IBT and its members may exercise their right under the National Labor Relations Act which includes the right to handbill in front of your establishment and ask your customers not to buy your product because you advertise in the LA Times.

This is certainly not what we would prefer to do, but this is a decision that the company is forcing us employees to consider making. We want the LA Times to respect us as workers and more importantly, recognize our contribution in providing your business advertising the quality printing you and your customers deserve.

The new owner wants nothing more than for us to continue to give up wages and benefits in an effort to increase corporate profits.

GCC/IBT
Bargaining Committee
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is the letter sent to over 50 local car dealerships to inform them of our efforts to negotiate a fair collective bargaining agreement. Management has posted a "Negotiation Update" with this letter attached. As I stated in a previous post, our Representative Sonny Shannon ended our last negotiation session stating "we intend to increase our position at the bargaining table"
We have NOT asked our advertisers to take any form of action against the company.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Senate stood up to Big Media


Dear Ronnie,

Just moments ago, by a near-unanimous vote, the Senate stood up to Big Media. They voted to throw out the FCC decision to let the largest media companies swallow up even more local media.

This is simply an astounding victory, and it would not have happened without the massive grassroots effort by you and thousands of others who called their senators, sent more than a quarter million letters, posted thousands of pictures and stories on StopBigMedia.com, and testified at public hearings held by the FCC.

It was your dedication that made today's Senate win possible.
Today was a huge step forward, but there is still much to do. The fight against the FCC now moves to the House, where our elected representatives need to hear from us.

President Bush has promised that he will try to veto this bill. But tonight the Senate and the American people have spoken with one voice. This historic vote sends a clear message that the only people who support more media consolidation are Big Media lobbyists and the White House.

We are in this struggle to bring more minority ownership, diverse perspectives and independent voices to the media. We need to make media consolidation an election-year issue. And we need to start talking about how to break up the giant conglomerates.

Corporate news today -- with its propaganda pundits, horse-race election coverage, and celebrity gossip -- undermines our democracy. We must continue to speak out and demand that the public airwaves be used to actually serve the public.

In just three weeks, thousands of people will be gathering together in Minnesota to build the movement for better media. You can join them at the National Conference for Media Reform, just visit www.freepress.net/conference.

For today, know that you played a key role in the fight for better media for all.

Thank you,
Josh Silver
Executive Director
Free Press Action Fund.
For those of you who joined the action committee and sent letters to your elected officials on Stop Big Media.com, know that you contributed to this decision by the senate. Hopefully this will force Sammy to Sell!
In Solidarity!
Ronnie

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Postcard from The Negotiation Table

We all knew that the negotiations were going to be especially difficult during the economic downturn that newspapers are facing these days, but the reality is, we are also facing the same economic challenges.

In the last few years we have faced rising fuel prices, utilities have become more expensive and grocery prices are again escalating.

During these past years we have also $een the amount we pay for our healthcare coverage increase, (Co-Pay$ and prescriptions) while our wage$ have essentially remained the same. Tribune is self insured and has taken any annual wage increases right back, simply by increasing our benefit costs each year.

These past two days of negotiations have revealed to the negotiation committee as well as our Representatives that, the Company, by their actions, have no intention of negotiating a "FAIR" collective bargaining agreement with the pressmen and presswomen who print the Los Angeles Times.

1.8 Million apparently was not enough for these greedy parasites. We spent the last two days and numerous counter proposals attempting to reach an agreement with the Company on language pertaining to "Hours of Work" and "Overtime"

Listen to what they originally proposed, an 8 hour work day, 40 hour work week at our current weekly wage with nothing for the additional 5 hours a week (20 hours a month). At $35.00 an hour average, that amounts to $700.00 a month. They must think you are all stupid as well as overpaid.

As far as overtime, we proposed the current definition of a days work as a seven and a half (7 1/2) hours per shift, minus the half hour per shift for lunch, (37 1/2 hours per week) with overtime after the seventh hour to be paid at time and a half for the first 4 hours and double time thereafter. That's fair considering that's what we currently receive.

The company wants to invoke current California state law which requires employers to pay overtime wages after 8 hours or 40 hours a week. Simply put, you would work at straight time wages until your ninth hour is reached or you exceed 40 hours in the same work week. Any takers? HELL NO! They must think you are all stupid as well as overpaid.

Their proposals also contains language that would allow them to send you home at any time and only pay you for the time you are there. This sets the stage to turn us into part-time workers and could result in loss of benefits as well as give birth to a "two tier" wage system.

They also eluded to wage scales based on job classification. That would allow the company to create vastly different wage scales within our department and could also result in wage reductions for those whose work they deem less important or a lower skill set.

At the end of the day, we were not interested in their proposals and concluded with our International Representative, Sonny Shannon informing the company that we intend to strengthen our position at the bargaining table. More on that to come!

They must think you are all stupid as well as overpaid!

Stay tuned! In Solidarity!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Negotiation Update

Negotiations continued on Wednesday April 30th and Thursday May 1st at which time several tentative agreements were reached. As tentative agreements are reached, they will be posted here so everyone will be aware of what we are discussing at the table.

I really apologize that more has not been reported on the actual negotiations but language in our proposals as well as the company's proposals can, and do change from each proposal and counter proposal given back and forth. We have presented and received numerous proposals and are continuing to discuss language that both sides can be comfortable with and agree to.

As far as the tentative agreements we have reached, they pertain to

"Voluntary Separation Package" (for recent buy-outs)
"Recognition and Jurisdiction"
"Arbitration"
"Jury Duty"
"Funeral Leave"(packaged)
"Cafeterias"(packaged)

The "packaged" proposals were presented by the company in which they agreed to funeral leave language in exchange for an agreement giving them sole discretion regarding the cafeterias and vending machines. The cafeterias and vending machines are for the convenience of all employees and we felt that the company's decision to provide cafeteria services and vending machines, (or not), rests solely on their shoulders.

We have presented several other proposals which the company views to be restrictive and costly so they continue to seek language giving them flexibility. We are willing to create language giving them the flexibility they seek, but not at the expense of fair agreements for our bargaining unit.

We are making progress and are optimistic about future negotiations. The downside obviously is the lack of time actually spent at the table. As I stated previously, this will take time, so continue to be patient and support the committee and it's efforts to present and protect our interests.

International representative Sonny Shannon is doing an exemplary job in presenting our proposals as did Mike Huggins' and we hope to have Mike back at the table for our next scheduled negotiations.

If you have any questions, as always, I encourage you to ask any of the negotiation committee members and we will provide you with the answers you seek.

In solidarity
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