Thursday, July 24, 2008

Editorial Meeting with the Teamsters

Our colleagues in Editorial have taken the first step in having an actual voice in their newsrooms. On Tuesday July 22nd, a group of Editorial employees met with the Guild, this evening, at their request, a group met with our Teamster Representatives. This was the bold first step it takes to determine what they will do next.

I would describe this afternoon's meeting as a great start. I was reminded of our early organizing meetings, and where we are today. I have no doubt, another negotiating table is already waiting!

Our Organizer Marty Keegan opened the meeting explaining what role the Teamsters would play in organizing our Editorial department employees and the role the employees must play in order to successfully protect their interests.

Wrongfully terminated, Santa Barbara Newspress Writer, and former Los Angeles Times Writer, Dawn Hobbs attended this evening's meeting to address the attendees and give her personal account of what has taken place in Santa Barbara and the role the Teamsters have played during their ordeal. A video was shown highlighting their struggle against Owner Wendy McCaw and the numerous actions taken on behalf of the writers. Along with the Teamsters and Attorney, Ira Gottlieb, the writers have won in the NLRB and in Federal Court, numerous ULP'S (unfair labor practices) and Court rulings, including the decision ordering Wendy McCaw to reinstate these terminated writers with full back pay, benefits, and contributions to their retirements. "We knew the Teamsters were the right Union to represent us, and there was no other choice" Dawn Said.

I was very pleased to meet everyone who attended this evening and look forward to meeting many more of our colleagues from editorial very soon. This meeting is one that I have looked forward to in anticipation for quite some time now. I was invited by Marty to share our experiences in organizing our pressrooms and also gave a brief summary of negotiations.
A point I clearly made was that together, with Teamster representatives, we can both increase our ability to negotiate fair collective bargaining agreements, and effectively support each other during negotiations. I also pledged our assistance and support to get their organizing campaign off the ground and to help"immunize" them from the union busting tactics the company used on us, and will most likely begin to force on them.

I again used Newsday as the model for what we can, and should seek to accomplish here at the Times in order to deliver Sam the fight he deserves. The Teamsters represent the pressroom, editorial, machinists, mailers and drivers at Newsday. This is our goal, unfortunately minus the drivers. Best of luck and prayers for all of them and their families, we consider them family first, longtime friends and Teamster brothers and sisters.

The meeting closed with the understanding that a decision has to be made as to who will represent their interests at the table, and a future meeting soon once that decision is made, should that decision be Teamsters. The attendees will be communicating with their colleagues to arrange a meeting amongst themselves to reach their decision.

As many of you already know, The L.A. Times failed to re-new their contract with Ryder, again affecting the men and women formerly employed by the Times to deliver our newspaper. That decision left us wondering, was this purely economics or the company's way of reducing Teamster presence at the paper? Sam Zell doesn't want you to organize, and he certainly don't want you to organize with the Teamsters.

As reporters and writers, you are the Los Angeles Times, it all begins in the newsroom.

Thanks to the InkstainedRetch for making the meeting information available online and for encouraging this movement. I acknowledge that the Retch is neutral, and also acknowledge the contribution Tell Zell has provided to all of us.

Ronnie Pineda

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