Tribune's announcement of 250 (MORE) employee cuts here at the Los Angeles Times has been a concern for pressroom employees, having just gone through buy-outs a couple of months ago. We lost another 27 presspersons and 4 pressroom utility employees at that time bringing our pressroom staffing to approximately 250 bargaining unit employees between the two pressrooms. Negotiation Committee brother Keith Denson asked if the pressroom was again targeted in this round of cuts, to which the company's lead negotiator responded, we are not. That should be of comfort to many of us who survived the last round of buy-outs. Lets hope that our industry levels off, or begins to improve at some point soon to establish and maintain some stability to our staffing levels in all departments.
Our first order of business was to address the merit based wage increases currently being given to production employees. The company representatives explained that the raises are a new merit based wage increase "HYBRID". HUH? Yeah we were puzzled too.
We have given an information request to the company pertaining to the wage increases and informed them that we would accept a wage increase along with all production employees as was done last year and will continue to bargaining wage increases in the interim.
We will have more on this matter at our next session on the 16Th when we receive their responses to our info request.
"ScabSchool" is what our representative Sonny Shannon called managements paster make-up training on Tuesday morning. As far as supervision learning to make straight-line paster make-ups, we were told it was for training purposes. The company's lead negotiator reiterated a previous statement he made months ago that the company will do whatever it needs to do to get a newspaper on the street. That lead us to believe that management was concerned over a suggested "sick-out" on Wednesday, July 9Th posted on inkstainedretch's TELL ZELL blog, and the possibility that we may, in sympathy, participate in this sick-out. I commented on this type of action, and the dangers they pose to employees on Ed's blog and Tell Zell. Can you say Paranoia?
Again, the issue of assigning presspersons on crews in the event of absences was addressed. It was the company's original model that when an individual on a crew is absent, all crew members below the absent individual move up on the crew ladder until the absentee's position is filled. Presspersons added to the crew after this climbing procedure, back fill the vacant positions vacated by the crew members that moved up. We asked that the supervisors at both plants adhere to this process. Names of affected employees and examples were given to management to investigate. Seniority must be honored in placement on crew when multiple positions on a crew require back filling with the most senior filling the higher vacant spot until all crew positions are staffed. Company response to follow.
Some good news for the Mitchell Family. As some of you were made aware from a previous post, brothers Myron Mitchell and Otis Miller were force transfered to Orange County as a result of the recent pressroom buy-outs. Both Myron and Otis reside in Palmdale which is approximately a 2 hour drive, one way. The commute and fuel prices forced these men to remain close to the plant and share a room locally, and to my surprise, occassionally, sleep in their automobiles. In Myron's case this will change as he will be returning to the Olympic Plant on Thursday July 10th. I would like a volunteer from L.A. that resides near the O.C. plant to consider transfering down to O.C. to allow Otis to return to Oly, and like Mitch now, return to his family nightly. Contact me if you would be willing to exercise your compassion for a brother and his family.
There were a couple of other housekeeping issues, one, regarding my crew specifically and a fellow crew member's ability to float vacation days.
Contract language update to follow (all good news), I really need some sleep! Come back to this post later today to continue.