Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ratification Meeting Information

The Ratification Meeting has been scheduled for Monday, December 8, 2008 at 9:00 am in Room Salon 1 at the Crown Plaza Commerce Casino Hotel located in the City of Commerce. (interactive map).
Parking is free in the rear of the hotel by taking Tubeway Ave. on the west side of the hotel/casino.

I am diligently working on getting copies for review in advance of the meeting and hope to have an on-line version available here for download.

You must attend to vote.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Almost There! Negotiations Complete.

Negotiations have concluded and an over all Tentative Agreement was reached. We are scheduling a Ratification Meeting (DATE AND TIME TO BE ANNOUNCED) in Commerce at the Commerce Casino Crown Plaza Hotel where negotiations have been held. Meeting room and meeting time information will be made available and posted in the shops and here within the next couple of days.

This will take place within the next couple of weeks so it is imperative that everyone makes the necessary arrangements to insure their attendance at this important meeting.

Everyone should know by now that only those bargaining unit brothers and sisters that attend the ratification meeting may vote on the Overall Tentative Agreement (contract) as there is no such thing as an absentee ballot voting system in union contract ratification votes. That means that a majority of ONLY those that vote will determine whether or not the contract will be ratified.

I cannot stress the importance of attending this meeting and hope that everyone possible takes this opportunity to exercise their democratic right that we have only experienced here at The Times during organizing campaigns.

All of the details of the tentative agreements will be disclosed at the ratification meeting and The International and our Representatives have asked that we refrain from presenting the information at this time. It has been their experience that by the time the ratification meetings take place, a lot of misinformation and misinterpretations flourish among the bargaining unit spreading through the shops and fails to give an accurate depiction of the actual agreements. The bargaining committee agrees and asks for your patience once again. This will guarantee everyone the facts and prevent unnecessary rumors which we all know exist and have had to disseminate throughout this process. Please respect the International's request and allow the negotiation committee to fulfill this request by with holding any and all questions until the ratification meeting. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

The Negotiating Committee appreciates all the support and patience we have received from our Brothers and Sisters in both shops and thank all of you for the honor of representing our Los Angeles Times Pressroom Bargaining Unit in these historic Collective Bargaining Agreement Negotiations.

In Solidarity,
Brother Ronnie

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Why Don't They Tell Us This Stuff?

Sam Zell's Tribune Company may start distributing The Wall Street Journal in metro areas, because it's not already enough of a giant clusterfuck over in the newspaper industry now that we need Rupert Murdoch's Journal being thrown at your door by the same guys who bring you theLA Times.
And what is Zell doing taking on this deal, which is still in "trial runs" with the local teamsters running the trucks? Didn't we just hear about how the man can't even afford his own baseball team, and now he's getting into some weird MGM/Weinstein-esque arrangement with another media baron?

Murdoch has said he plans on shutting down 10 of the 17 plants that print the Journal, and "outsource that printing to other newspapers — both the printing and the delivery." Which is a huge, but probably necessary cut, because as much as you can make fun of Murdoch for being crazy and Australian, the man knows how to run a business. Zell? Not so much.

Complete story (click here)

For Editor and Publisher story click here or link at beginning of this article.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


Today's negotiations were mentally exhausting and frustrating to say the least. We received the company's response to our 10/30/08 economic proposal and were astonished to hear them reject practically every word when most everything we proposed wasn't a far leap from where we are currently in regards to wages, benefits and retirement. The company, as expected countered and we received the company's first economic proposal. My initial reaction was that they might as well had printed it on toilet paper because that is what it appropriately should be used for.

We knew that there was going to be cost containment language in their initial proposals but it was insulting to the committee and our representatives to see what they came to the table offering our bargaining unit. For them to even begin where they did, was a slap in the face to all who print this newspaper. We had earlier offered, in extremely good faith and with extreme flexibility, language that enables the company to reap long term savings going forward with the expectation of a fair wage increase and an affordable benefits package.

This was a bit of a surprise considering how urgent they've seemed to be to get a contract. We understand that it was their first proposal, and shot back our counter proposal with what we on the committee believed to be fair and pretty much in line with where we are now. It did include a sufficient annual wage increase, and the opportunity to actually generate retirement savings in a retirement vehicle far superior to the retirement plan non-union employees have to accept.

Again, the majority of our counter proposal was rejected and the temperature began to rise. The movement displayed by the opposition in their counter proposal was so insignificant we saw no reason to drastically revise our 2nd counter proposal. We know what the bargaining unit will accept or reject when and if we get a contract to consider for ratification and will not agree to any less than what we had when we walked into negotiations one year ago.

This is just the beginning of what we expected to be difficult bargaining considering both the newspaper industry as a whole, and the economy. The company did state that there is room for them to move, but just how much remains to be seen. This is exactly why we need to strengthen our solidarity and focus on a unified body that will withstand any efforts by management to seek more from us for less. It is no secret that they indeed will be expecting more from us for the fact that my very credible sources tell me that the company is trying to weasel out of their contract with the pressroom cleaners (Network City). A thirty day notice was given to Network City in which the company seeks to terminate their contract. I was also informed that there are two years remaining on that contract. So who do all of you think will inherit those responsibilities?

Now let's discuss the obvious possibility of becoming the "printing hub" that management has spoken of and we have read about in our own paper. The "JOA" joint operating agreement" with The Orange County Register we have been hearing about and was reported in the Orange County Business Journal will no doubt result in our printing of this product. Now throw in the possibility of printing the WSJ, The San Diego Union Tribune and any other potential publication Zell is eyeballing and we can breath easier for the foreseeable near future.

This is what the company hopes to to do and we as a union should want the same and aspired to achieve this goal hand in hand. We will have the responsibility of producing these alternative products with the same quality standards expected from our Los Angeles Times customers.
There is no doubt in my mind that we in the pressroom will rise to the occasion when the time comes as we have done historically, and for that fact, we on the committee will not comprise our worth to this company. Equally, the company should not ignore the contribution we make on a daily basis, year in, year out as we've done for decades.

We called it a day to let cooler heads prevail and will resume negotiations on November 20th. That was the earliest date possible for both parties. We know that many more of our brothers and sisters have put their faith in the Union and understand that the landscape of the pressroom would be far worse now had we not organized and are aware of what will happen should we ever put our trust in Sam Zell or his minions. We cannot afford to allow this opportunity to escape us no matter what we face in negotiations, so please remain united and patient, because we have always persevered in the face of challenge. This will be by far the biggest challenge we will face together. It will take everyone to stand up for what you believe you are worth and our TRADE deserves. Accept no less, your negotiating committee won't either.

Fraternally and in Solidarity!
Brother Ronnie

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