Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rumor Control and Negotiation Update

It was no shock to me that we lost some of our supervisors this past week. It is always terrible for anyone to lose their job, its worse just before the holidays. We have witnessed the exodus of our friends and co-workers for years now and it is always heart wrenching for most of us. As salary employees, there is no obligation for management to honor supervisors seniority in their respective position. Why the supervisors that were relieved of their post were chosen, can only be answered by those who made the decision as to who they considered expendable. Some will be missed by some, and some will be missed by all. Either way, they will be missed. I will personally miss Misty Griffin for the fact that she was always honest, fair and treated everyone with respect.

RUMOR CONTROL
O.C. RUMOR: There have been many questions regarding the possibility of the pending Joint Operating Agreement between The Orange County Register and The Times that was reported in The Orange County Business Journal (Click for story). One main concern I have been hearing is that Pressmen from The Register will come and run their own product on our presses. We have not been given any indication from management that they are considering anything like that. I don't see how that would be a profitable venture for the company to "rent" our presses and that is essentially what something like that would be. Language we have already agreed to prevents management from hiring part-time employees to sub plant the full time workforce. All the details regarding part-time employees will be presented at the upcoming ratification meetings.

L.A. RUMOR: There are going to be more buy-outs and we are going to lose 4 crews.
Management did not state that they intend to reduce staffing at this time and it was not mentioned at the table.

NEGOTIATIONS
Today we gave management our wage and benefit proposals and spent time discussing the new benefit package offered by management and our desire to explore coverage through either the Teamsters, the GCC or the company sponsored health care program. We also proposed a "medical opt-out program" in which the company is being asked to give a fraction of the projected per employee company medical cost back to the employee(s) wishing to opt-out of the company medical benefit. This type of reimbursement is becoming very common for companies looking to reduce their benefit overhead by allowing employees to opt-out of their company coverage. This program has saved large, self insured companies such as ours millions of dollars and it also gives the employee and their family more flexibility in medical coverage options.

The wages, benefit and pension proposals were submitted as a package proposal and it included our proposed term of the contract, a signing bonus, sick days and several other topics. The proposals are, we believe to be fair, but we are sure that the company's counter proposal will reflect managements desire to control costs. We on the committee are not ignorant to the state of our industry and the effect the economy is having on our company and are bargaining with those factors in mind. We are extremely aware of how the economy has effected each of our households as well and bargain with that in mind even more so.

We are attempting to have management redirect their retirement contributions to each employee for the purpose of reinvesting it into the Interlocal Pension Fund. For more information on the Interlocal Pension Fund (click here) There is no other plan like this and we will be able to contribute an additional pecentage above the negotiated amount contributed by the company.

With all of that said, I must remind all of you that no matter what we on the negotiating committee and our representatives agree to at the table, all bargaining unit employees will have the final word by voting on the tentative agreements reached in negotiations. If there are areas that are not acceptable to a majority of those who vote, then the committee will go back to the table and attempt to renegotiate the unsatisfactory terms. It is extremely important that everyone vote because ratification is based on a majority of those who cast a vote. Don't let only those who vote decide for you whether or not we ratify these tentative agreements.

Negotiations resume on November 6th at which time we will receive the company's counter proposal.

In Solidarity!

Monday, October 20, 2008

our right to labor

We have been in a long struggle with management and a few of our own to get a fair shake in this increasingly tough business.We have all got to stand strong and together we are getting close to the goal we set out to achieve, a fair contract to help secure our future. Bear this in mind brothers and sisters we need to work a full shift and that is the only way we can assure that the goals we have gone after in this contract last.A bust out is great but if there is not enough work we will bust out at home with out a job.Labor has been the foundation of this country from its beginning.
Quote of the day "All that serves labor serves the Nation. All that harms labor is treason to America.No line can be drawn between these two.
"If a man tells you he loves America ,yet hates labor he is a liar.
"If a man tells you he trusts America,yet fears labor he is a fool.
"There is no America without labor, and to fleece the one is to rob the other."
by Abraham Lincoln

Stay strong , brothers and sisters united for what is right and fair.
Always union strong Keith Denson



Thursday, October 16, 2008

THE WAITING IS THE WORST

My fellow pressman & women
As you continue to wait for negotiations to end please be patient. As i have said before along time back you are negotiating with us and we do nothing without all of you in mind and also for who we do this for. All of you. We are nearly finished with wages and med benefits left. When we finish you have the final say on this contract you must approve it. I know the waiting is the worst we will be finished soon and your concerns are heard by all of us on the committee because you don't know all the details you will soon stay strong and stand with us show your support and we will go forward together. thank you all.
your fellow pressman lance farrar

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dick Lipsett needs our help!

Dear Friends and Family:

As you may or may not know my family is having some difficulties. Eric, my son and his wife Yolanda attempted to do the right thing in obtaining permanent residence status for Yolanda. They went to the American Embassy in Juarez, Mexico on September 10, 2008, where their request was denied and Yolanda was ordered not to re-enter the United States. Since then, Eric and his family have had to live separately, Eric and their son, James (6), living in their home in Lawndale, CA so that James can continue to attend school, while Yolanda and their daughter, Analy (3) live in an apartment in Mexico about 30 miles south of the border (approximately a 3 hour drive (one way) for Eric on a good day). This separation could last for 12-18 months.

I and some other family members immediately wrote to our Senate and Congress representatives. This didn’t really accomplish much as not all are representatives even got back to us and those that did basically said they couldn’t do anything that Eric had to contact his own representatives. Unfortunately, this process took some time and the only thing it really showed me was that I have a very small voice in this government of ours.

The more I learn, the worse it gets. I like most of you would just a soon every illegal in this country was rounded up and shipped back to where they belong. Actually that's not my true feelings because I know that would be an impossible task, plus some of these people are truly outstanding assets to their communities. What I would like to see is some sort of amnesty for the ones that have been living a good clean life, paying taxes and not committing crimes. But we really can't even do that, not until we can secure our borders so that no other illegal can get into this country. What I'm learning now and I also believe Eric is learning now although he may have known this but didn't think it was such a big deal, is that Yolanda was here illegally some time within the time she's been here. It seems that she came here legally on a student visa but let it laps in between the time she was here legally on a work visa. That laps time is the problem, she was here illegally. I doubt Eric knew all the ramifications of that when he feel in love and married Yolanda, I sure didn't. I just learned today that if someone is here illegally and is caught or admits to being here illegally, they have to leave the country and are not allowed to even try to obtain a visa for ten years. Now to me, that seems like a good law, I agree with it. My objection is when a situation like Eric's happens, he a US citizen marries an illegal (knowingly or unknowingly), and there should be exceptions. And I guess there is, they are called waivers. The problem with the waivers, they take 12-18 months or more to be approved. I guess we should all know this, I guess he should have really known this; ignorance to the law is not bliss. He and his family, I and my family are definitely not blissful. Long story short, in order to have these waivers approved in an expedited manner you have to prove an extreme hardship. The American Embassy and US Government definition of extreme is that the US citizen has to be bedridden, show a health problem where the illegal spouse was taking care of the family as well as the US citizen and that without that spouse, the US citizen would then have an extreme hardship (this I obtained by talking directly with the office of my Congressman). All the rest is just a hardship, loss of the illegal spouse’s income to the family, family separation, child care, loss of monies having to support the illegal spouse in a foreign country, loss of savings for the children's education fund, loss of the US citizens 401K, possible loss of their family home, possible loss of job because Eric arrives late to work and leaves early to get his son to school, not to mention all the other added expense and inconvenience in the US citizen and his family visiting the illegal spouse on weekends and whenever they can. These are just minor hardships and won't qualify the family for a speedy approval of a waiver; the approval will probably take 12 to 18 months. So I don't hold much hope in Eric and his family getting back together before these 12-18 months are over. To me it's just ludicrous. I know a wrong was done, I know a law was broken, I know penalties should be levied, I just feel this penalty of separating a family for such an extended period of time is unjust and to extreme for a US citizen and the family to have to bear. These are just my thoughts.

We do have a petition & declaration form that Eric’s lawyer has asked him to get to all his friends, supporters and family for signature, it could help. I'm assuming that the more signatures he gets and the more declarations, it might just move him up the line and they may not have to wait the 12-18 months.

This is where I’m asking for your support. I know you all have busy lives and your opinions on this subject may differ. If you would, I’d like you to print out the attached forms. On the petition form, print your name, address, whether you’re a US citizen or permanent resident and sign above your name. I know these lines are small but please try to stay within the lines. Also, anyone can sign the petition; they don’t have to know Eric or Yolanda. They just have to want to support the petition. So please have all your family members, friends, neighbors or people from groups you may belong to sign the petition. Now you don’t have to go to all this extra work, I’ll be happy with just your signature.

You have to know Eric to write or type the DECLARATION OF YOLANDA CAMACHO-RODRIQUEZ. The attached is just a sample and Camacho is misspelled with an extra “a”. The first few sentences have to be part of the declaration, ending with I have know Eric since. The rest is in your own words. Now many of you have not seen or talked to Eric in many years but you know him and if you know him you can submit the declaration. If you feel you can write this declaration, it would be much appreciated.

Please mail the petition and any declarations to Eric by November 16, 2008 as he will need them for the interview on December 3 at the American Embassy in Juarez. Eric’s address:

Eric Lipsett
4208 W. 171st Street
Lawndale, CA 90260

Thanks for taking the time to read this; I hope you will help us.

Sincerely,

Dick Lipsett

To download and Sign the Petition and Declaration Click here and then forward to Eric at the address above. Good Luck to Eric and Yolanda!
Ronnie

New Seniority List

I apologize for the confusion caused by the previous seniority list I posted. I have spent the last two days under my house repairing a drain pipe and was not able to respond to phone calls or e-mails. I played all the messages and read all the e-mails and realized that I inadvertently posted an earlier version I was working on. I had multiple lists saved on my computer from different stages of making revisions and that is where the error occured.

We gave that list to management at the last negotiations and intend to resubmit the now posted list. This list will be given to management today and will be considered a closed subject. We cannot delay submitting our list any longer. We on the committee have heard numerous inquiries over many months and we investigated and evaluated any and all requests regarding seniority number discrepancies as a result of the consolidation of our shops. We have to agree to an OFFICIAL list now, or management will decide to reject our efforts to create a fair seniority list. The time and work spent on the seniority list has been a very daunting exercise and as I said before, the purpose of doing this is fairness. Click here to view the list.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Proposed Seniority List

Seniority is the cornerstone of the Union and our Seniority Number is an important aspect of our employment. It dictates what shift we work, which also determines our days off and when we take our vacation.

Thats why there were so many complaints when a combined 3 plant seniority list was created in 2005. Many of the placement decisions made by management were deemed incorrect by our peers. Management made several revisions based on employee input, finalized the list, and proceeded with the closure of Northridge.

There were many who still felt that their seniority number was left unresolved. The company stated that the list is of little importance to them so we took the resonsibility of making the corrections that were left unresolved.

A combined L.A./O.C. Pressroom Proposed Seniority List was given to Management on October 7th after months of work collecting information and verifying dates. The committee feels this list is as accurate as possible based on the various ways management assigned start dates for pressroom employees. Our intent was to address only the alledged errors that were a result of the consolidation of our shops. This list will be considered the "OFFICIAL" seniority list and will be set in stone if agreed to by management. At this point it is only a proposed Seniority list and requires managements acceptance.

This was done in the name of fairness and it was well understood that not everyone will agree with this list either but it is our belief that it is considerably more accurate than previously.

In the event that we were not able to verify someones claims, no changes were made.
To view or download a copy of the proposed Seniority List, Click here.
In Solidarity!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Negotiation Update

Your Negotiation Committee is again pleased to report that negotiations were very, very productive. Tentative agreements were reached in Articles pertaining to Discretionary Leave, Military leave, FMLA, and Miscellaneous Articles such as Parking, Drug and Alcohol Testing Program, Security Cameras, Uniforms and Protective Equipment, Security Time and Record Cards. (No time clocks are involved in security time and record cards)

Both sides have exhibited mutual interest in keeping the negotiations moving forward and we have now moved much closer to negotiating the economics of our contract. The negotiations are now moving at a very progressive pace considering first time contracts require much more work than re-negotiating an expiring contract. At this pace, in my opinion, we have the potential to complete a contract to present to the bargaining unit for ratication before years end.

Since the beginning of our negotiations we have spent a considerable amount of time addressing what we refer to at the table as "housekeeping issues" These issues have been very diverse in their subject matter and the majority of these issues have emanated from the Los Angeles shop.
Some of these issues will remain to be of concern to the bargaining committee as they involve what we view to be questionable leadership and questionable working conditions of our peers in L.A. The most compelling evidence that there will continue to be problems in L.A. is the overwhelming differences in the way our two shops are operated and especially how employees are supervised.

We have successfully resolved many of our concerns either at the table, by filing (U)nfair (L)abor (P)ractices with the NLRB and on a couple of occassions by talking directly with Russ Newton. Going forward we have agreed to address any in house issues immediately with Russ and reserve our time at the table to negotiate the collective bargaining agreement. We have also, in the interest of continued progress, agreed to withdraw the ULP that was filed concerning an event that took place in L.A. on September 18th. This incident would be viewed as a management right by the NLRB based on managements explanation of why a crew was held back (not held over) to clean pipes .

The committee is asking that any issues that require assistance from the committee be documented on an incident report and submitted to Keith Denson or myself. On a couple of occasions at the table, I have presented information disclosed to me which was either incomplete in detail, vague and on one occassion, completely inaccurate. For that reason the committee will no longer present any issues to management without written, factual information from the individual(s) seeking assistance.

It should be no surprise to any one that by willfully disregarding safety procedures you are jeopardizing your health and future with the company by not taking safes and speed washing. Consistently transposing plates is another spotlight you place upon yourself. These practices are the main ways to appear on management's radar and should not be happening . Knowing that these are areas that supervision monitors and documents (NTF), diligence and safety must be a priority at all times.

(REVISION) Negotiations resume today October 7th & 8th and again next week on the 14th and 15th.
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