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!

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