Saturday, February 28, 2009

Re-post from

(Originally posted on less than 6 months ago)
An echo to Steve Grant's Testimony
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Touching a Nerve

All right, the Retch knows he's way late on this, but the Dan Neil et al. lawsuit seems to have touched a nerve. Who knew that Sam Zell -- more likely the thin-skinned Randy Michaels -- cared so much? First, check out the language of the email that Zell sent out to let employees know about the lawsuit:

There is a difference between questioning authority or challenging the "business as usual attitude," and maligning the company in public. That's just bad judgment and does no one any good. It's a distraction that's unnecessary.We are partners. We need to act like it. Sam, the time for "acting" like partners ended when you cursed at us; when you denigrated us; when you told us we were overhead; when you fired reporters; when you cut back newshole; when you deprived our readers of information about their lives to make the payments on your over-leveraged debt.

Partner, in case your dictionary knowledge is as lacking as your lackey's grammatical knowledge, is a word which implies equality. But you have never acted as an equal. We have no power. We have no say. We have never been consulted in a single action that you or any of your cronies have taken in dismantling the Tribune Co. So stop fucking call me your partner. It's patronizing. It's demeaning. And it's wrong.

Then there's the language of the actual press release. The lawsuit is filled with "frivolous and unfounded allegations." Yet Zell mentions not a one. And then he declares himself "outraged."I don't honestly know where this lawsuit will lead. And I fear that, like most lawsuits, it will be two, three, four years before we find out, by which time Sam will have looted the pension, driven off or fired the best workers and turned the Tribune Company into a television network featuring Bozo 90210 and a few newsletter-sized newspapers.

But I do know who should be outraged. And I know it's not Sam Zell.The attorneys response to Zell, in a similar vein, follows in his email to Tribune employees earlier today, Sam Zell dismissed the allegations against him and his co-fiduciaries as “frivolous and unnecessary.”
“We are partners,” the email continued, “we need to act like it.”This statement is a standard Zell response: lacking in specifics and filled with vitriol. The complaint is detailed and the allegations are correct. The complaint asserts that the Tribune ESOP has not provided the rank and file employees with a detailed justification for the Zell acquisition. Ask Sam: where’s the detailed justification? The Tribune pension administrators have not provided the retired Tribune employees with an explanation as to why the pension plan was supposedly over funded by $400 million. This explanation is particularly necessary given the current downturn in the stock market. Ask Sam: where’s the explanation?

The directors have established a conflict of interest policy for related party transactions. Ask Sam: explain how the conflict of interest policy has been followed with HIS relatives?The current and former Tribune employees are not “all in this together” with Sam Zell. The rank and file employees have their jobs and their current and future retirement plans tied up by the machinations of Zell and his co-fiduciaries. Their salaries are low and they see many of their colleagues being let go on a monthly basis. On the other hand, Sam Zell has billions of dollars and does not have his livelihood at stake. For example, Zell’s upcoming birthday party will feature The Eagles. Ask Sam: how many of his “partners” are spending their birthdays in a similar fashion?

Speaking of “maligning the company in public,” we ask that journalists covering this story consider Sam Zell’s prior comments denigrating print journalism. Imagine if the Chairman of Procter & Gamble stated: “I don’t use Ivory Soap. I hate Ivory Soap.” Despite it all, these newspapers are continuing to produce great journalism.Zell’s comments fail to acknowledge the billions of dollars in debt he caused the Tribune Company to incur, necessitating both the layoffs and the diminishing content of the Company’s newspapers. It is unfortunate that, in typical fashion, Sam Zell is ignoring the rights and neglecting the best interests of the hard-working Tribune employees, whom he cynically refers to as “partners.” Rather than working with his “partners,” he is tearing the company down, brick by brick, and selling it off, in an effort to pay down the massive debt he improperly encumbered the company with.

We look forward to cutting through Zell’s self-serving, out of touch rhetoric and fighting for our clients – the Tribune’s real and rightful owners – in court.In these turbulent times, fiduciaries must act in the best interests of their employees, particularly when they are the “owners” of the company. Zell and his co-fiduciaries have utterly failed to do so as more specifically described in the complaint.
"Partners don’t treat partners like Zell treats the Tribune employees".
(end of post)

Where have you gone inkstained wretch? Your wisdom is greatly missed by all!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Steve Grant's Testimonial

Hey partners,
Funny, I don't feel much like a partner.That's because I'm one of the 63 presspeople getting laid off. After 31 years with the company I've been given my walking papers starting April 6.09

I started when I was 18 years old.My stepfather was a truck driver for the Times.He told me "I'll get you in the door, but after that it's up to you".I can walk away being proud of the job I've done.I always looked forward to the proud day when at 58 years old I could brag about being a 40 year employee.That's not going to happen now.

It's 4:00 am and I'm scribbling notes on paper before I sit down to the computer later and "peck" this in.I slept in late this morning.I've lately been waking up at 1:30 am and unable to go back to sleep with all the things on my mind.I'm out on disability after having surgery on my foot.I kept working thinking the problem would go away but the doctor said it wouldn't and would get worse.Now they are concerned about my blood pressure.Losing my job,having surgery,the proposed lousy severance,and lack of a plan for the future.No wonder it's high.
How about you Russ? You losing any sleep? How's your blood pressure partner?

I would've thought telling the story over and over again to my relatives,friends,neighbors and others would make it easier.But it doesn't.Luckily I have a supportive wife and family that look forward to the next chapter in our lives.Hopefully it doesn't involve working nights,weekends,holidays and driving 40 miles one way to work.
How about you Russ? When you tell the story about how your screwing 63 employees out of their severance over and over again does it make it easier to do partner?

Tribune co. is now employee owned.Sam Zell said "were partners". Where's Sam? I read somewhere that the bankruptcy judge gave the OK for bonus money for Tribune management deserved prior to bankruptcy. If they did such a fine job then why are we in bankruptcy? Hope all you partners didn't feel guilty about depositing those bonus checks into your bank accounts. I'll bet the total amount for those bonuses equals the total amount of severance your Not giving to the 63 presspeople.

How come most of my fellow pressroom employees that are not leaving are so quiet? Don't think that whatever happens to us won't happen to you next.Did Russ whisper in your ears" Don't worry. Next time there is a layoff you'll get the same severance as everyone else. We just want to screw these 63 employees. Promise". Have any of you thought about if management would have announced a better severance,they would have a mass exodus from higher seniority people? That would have enabled some of the 63 "pro union" people to stay? This is managements way of "busting" the union. Pretty smart partners.

Thirty one years. Seventeen years in Transportation and fourteen in the pressroom.Time sure went fast.I've always let my work speak for itself and I've always been a firm believer that if I do good things, good thinks will happen.The only thing that is fair is to give us what everyone else is getting. After all we are partners right?
In closing I'd like to thank the Los Angeles Times for the job that I loved and the opportunities that it provided. I'd like to thank all my friends and coworkers that helped me become the person that I am and the worker that I was. It was a partnership in life that I will forever be grateful for.

Steve Grant
O.C. Pressroom Operator

"AMEN Brother Steve!
Steve Grant submitted this as a comment, but I felt it needed to be posted in it's own posting. I invite everyone subject to the lay-off to send me a testimonial and include a family photo , I will post every one individually so that the public and the company can see the faces and families that are effected. We all have served this company loyally for decades and acknowledgement for our dedication is strongly warranted. My invitation is extended to any and all of the 300 lay-off targeted L.A.Times employees.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Recent Severance Negotiations Update

On February 7, 2009, members of GCC/IBT Local 140-N held a Special Meeting to discuss Severance Negotiations with L.A. Times representatives which took place on February 4, 5 and 6, specifically the company's severance package offer.

As we discussed at our Special Union Meeting, and in compliance with the wishes of the membership, the negotiation committee rejected the company's proposal containing two severance options. The second option contained language in which the company sought to have any grievances and board charges withdrawn in order to recieve an additional 4 weeks of severance.

We did make two seperate proposals (below) which sought at least what the non bargaining unit employees are planned to recieve. In addition to equal severance, we proposed recall rights for 24 months in the event that the company enters into any Joint Operating Agreements (JOA's) or Merger Agreements.

In summary, the company's position was not to respond to either proposal we presented and went on to say that they felt their proposal was fair and there was only room for them to "tweak" it slightly.

We twice requested Mediation from the The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, which is part of the Federal Government to help mediate the negotiations to which the company refused both times.

When asked about why they weren't willing to treat all of their employees fairly, their response was, they felt that they were.

The following are the two proposals we gave the company on Wednesday.

2009 Severance Proposal 2-25

Last Proposal by the Union.

La Times Union Proposal 2-25-09

We are exploring our options and next move.


Los Angeles Times Pressmens 20 Year Club: LA Times Response To Pressman's Protest

Los Angeles Times Pressmens 20 Year Club: LA Times Response To Pressman's Protest#links

The Times' Vice President of Communications Nancy Sullivan
Re; Monday's union protest:

Unfortunately, like other newspaper companies, the Los Angeles Times is not immune from the pressures of this difficult economy. Consequently, tough decisions were made that included reducing its workforce across the entire company, including the pressroom. From the onset, The Times has respected the pressmen's right to organize. In fact, despite this very difficult economy The Times and the union reached a 3-year contract agreement in December 2008 that was ratified by the employees. The company's actions have been completely in compliance with the contract.

GCC/IBTLocal 140-N
President's Response

In these economic times, is it fair to offer pressroom employees a severance package substantially less than non-union employees just because we organized and ratified a contract? The contract states that the company can fashion severance for our members, so why is it being fashioned far less than ALL other employees being laid off? Because were union? The Times could give our members the same as the non-union employees, actually, they could give more if they wanted to! How does that respect our rights to organize Nancy?

The Los Angeles Times has NEVER respected our right to organize! And it is obvious by the numerous changes our shops have undergone since ratification. Prior to organizing, the company had the right to make these same exact changes to our operation, but they didn't, and there is only one reason why they did after ratification. The contract didn't change anything because they had the right to do these things all along, but they didn't and they don't have to now. These are all calculated moves by the company and another example of how the company continues to employ union busting techniques and coerces employees into blaming the union. How does that respect our rights Nancy?

We were subjected to union-busting throughout the organizing process. The Times has ALWAYS hired union busters to help trample all over our right to organize! Our former SVP admitted in an anti-union meeting that "third party Attorneys were used, all the while referring to the Teamsters as a third party. The services they provide are used to dissuade employees from voting in favor of representation. On company time, we were corralled into captive audience meetings and continuously given anti-union propaganda literature that was intended to induce fear, focusing on strikes, violence and intimidation. How does that respect our rights Nancy?

We have endured union-busting tactics during negotiations as well. Attempts to change working conditions, refusing to assist employees in need by telling them, "go talk to the union" and also by teaching supervision union busting techniques to dissuade employees from organizing taught to them in union busting classes by union-busting Attorneys. How does that respect our rights Nancy?

Management has exploited the contract language with the intent of making employees regret organizing our shops. Their goal is to cause pressroom employees to blame the union for all that is now wrong in our shops. We did not make or negotiate these changes nor would we agree to the changes, for they were not specifically discussed in negotiations. Alot was not discussed in negotiations when management abruptly presented their "Best Offer" The bankruptcy notification had a major influence in many voters decision to ratify. Had we not ratified this contract, the bankruptcy would have allowed the company to rape us further with absolutely no defense. How does that respect our rights Nancy?

The company is using their management rights in an abusive fashion and continually says "You wanted a contract". How is that respecting our rights Nancy?

The 63 employees targeted for layoff have approximately 1510 combined years of "Company"service with an average of 23.92 years per employee and almost 1000 years of pressroom service, with an average of 15.46 years!
(statistics courtesy of Operator Steve Grant)

With all these years of service, the company chooses to ignore the contributions we have made to the production of this newspaper. We spent practically every Thanksgiving, Christmas, 4th of July and many other holidays and family events spanning 3 decades to get a quality newspaper in the hands of subscribers and advertisers yet we don't deserve a comparable severance package. How does that respect our rights Nancy?

The Times should be embarrassed for ignoring that dedication and commitment to this company? Has the company really respected our right to organize? NO Nancy, because we chose to organize and won. That did not sit well with Newton and Walker and they have both taken it personal. In thirty years at the Times, I have never worked for such arrogant, abusive, and spiteful individuals. It is impossible for these two to views their subordinates as human beings because they don't respect us as human beings. Cruelty seems to be included in their daily diet based on the way they choose to interact with their union employees.

In these economic times more workers are seeking representation to protect their interest in the work place and to insure fair and equal treatment from their employers.
This company is historically known for it's anti-union sentiment and it continues to exhibit that philosophy in both our shops and in severance negotiations. We can all benefit from a cohesive labor/management relationship, but management chooses to operate from a position of power, rather that one of mutual interest. That ignorant position is making it even more of a stressful, hostile and extremely unsafe work environment.

What is the reason we are being offered less severance? The contract doesn't say they can't give equal severance to our members. All laid off employees deserve equivalent severance regardless of whether their union or not. We have to go through protracted negotiations for equal severance, simply because we organized and the company does not, nor have they ever respected our rights, Nancy.

Management, supervision and you, as spokesperson can deny all you want, but the fact is we are being punished for exercising our federally protected right to form a union.
Retaliation began immediately upon ratification and it will continue as long as Publisher Hartenstein fails to investigate and correct the unfair treatment of our members.

Stop the retaliation and punishment and resolve our disputes in a harmonious fashion as we agreed to in the contract and we won't be compelled to file grievances or board charges. Management wants us to abide by the contract, yet when they don't.
How does that respect our rights Nancy?

Your sterile response should be ignored and I'm sure it already has been, because you personally have absolutely no idea what we have gone through over the last decade, specifically the last 4 years in order to succeed in organizing. Nor do you know or understand what we continue to go through at the hands of SVP Newton and L.A. pressroom Superintendent Walker, so in my opinion, you are far from qualified to respond to our Rally.

End Of Rant!

In Solidarity,
President Pineda
GCC/IBT Local 140-N

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Monday's Rally

Monday's Rally was very inspiring and it was a great example of solidarity as we marched side by side with brothers and sisters from GCC/IBT Local 404, Teamsters Local 396, Iron Workers Local 416 and members of the SEIU. Unions have united across labor affiliations understanding that supporting each others issues only stregthens the labor movement as a whole.
I received several messages from T.V. News agencies stating that there was some confusion regarding the time of our rally. Our literature clearly stated that we were to begin at 11:00am, but they weren't sure if it was at 11:00 am or at 1:00pm. We have no idea how the media was mislead, but we have some suspicions. We intend to investigate how this confusion by the media occured and whether any foul play was involved.

There were several web-based news agencies that did report on the rally and those stories and additional photos can be found on Ed Padgett's blog and these links:

Teamster Joint Counsel Speaker.

Every effort to have local politicians join us on the street was overshadowed by the current stimulus package and their efforts to get those dollars into the Los Angeles economy and they were committed to that process just across the street from our rally. It is my understanding that we do have their support for what is happening not only to our shops, but the newspaper as a whole. We will continue to call on them for support and hope to utilize their offices to improve the working conditions for not only our bargaining unit, but all L.A. Times Employees.

Our Attorney, Ira Gottlieb addresses the crowd highlighting the unfair treatment of our members. Ira also listed the board charges and grievances that we have filed with management and the N.L.R.B. To Ira's right in the photo is GCC/IBT Local 404m President Doug Brown. President Brown and the members of Local 404 have responded to every request for help, and this time was no different.
Teamster Executive Board Member and Western Region Organizer, Manny Valenzuela addressed the crowd emphasising the importance of standing together against workplace injustice and encouraged everyone to remain strong and united.

Our rally was an important beginning in raising awareness for equality and fairness. It's intent was to deliver the message that, first, we are not alone, second, we will stand up for workplace justice and third and most important........


Photos courtesy of Victor Banuelos

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Union Rally Monday February 23, 2009

A press release was sent notifying the media about our Union Rally to be held on Monday February 23, 2009 to expose the anti-union treatment our bargaining unit has been subjected to at the hands of management and supervision since ratification of the collective bargaining agreement on December 8, 2008.

Rally information:
Date: Monday February 23, 2009
Time: 11:00 am
Location: L.A. Times Building Downtown, 1st and Spring

All members not working are expected to attend!

Must know information for Bargaining unit employees:
If scheduled to work, DO NOT miss work to participate.
No signs, we're not picketing.
No work slowdowns in support of Rally.
No work stoppage in support of Rally.

Ronnie Pineda
President, GCC/IBT Local 140-N

Thursday, February 05, 2009

No Progress Made.

No agreement was reached today regarding Severance. We will resume in the morning at 9:30am.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Hatchet Will Swing 63 Times

Todays news was far worse than expected when we learned that 63 pressroom jobs are being eliminated from our shops in accordance with management's cost reduction plan. In less than a year, that amounts to just under 100 jobs lost in our pressrooms alone. The total savings for the company from the pressrooms will be close to 4 million dollars a year! Close to 6 million a year when you include the last round of cuts less than a year ago!

Management has no interest in discussing any alternative measures to reduce costs which could save jobs in the pressrooms and bases the cuts on the economy, the overall newspaper industry decline and the restructuring and new design of the future paper.

These cuts will result in the elimination of 10 press crews in one fell swoop. There will be reductions in the roller crew size, reelroom co-ordinator and trainer positions in managements plans as well. According to Russ, these positions at each plant will consist of, 4 roller crew positions, 3 coordinator positions and 2 trainers, again, per plant.

These layoffs are scheduled to take place on March 4, 2009 not March 15 as mentioned in Russ' letter in which he states "no later than March 15th"

Management gave the bargaining committee copies of the pressroom schedules they intend to implement on March 2, 09. and expect to begin picking crews ( on Monday, Feb 9, 09) based on the provided schedule. We did not receive actual crew schedules at this time.(the schedule does contain crew numbers and hours, not pick positions or product) The crew picking process will remain as it has always been conducted and was confirmed by Russ when asked.

We will meet again tomorrow at noon to discuss severance, and what the company intends to fashion for our shops. We again believe that any less than what is given to non-union employees would be unfair.
Revised 2/5/09-revisions in red

Ronnie Pineda
Local 140-N

Monday, February 02, 2009

Local 140-N Upcoming Meetings Information


3:00 PM TO 4:30 PM

4:30 PM TO 6:30 PM




Sunday, February 01, 2009

Obama says will reverse Bush labor policies

By Ross Colvin Ross Colvin – Fri Jan 30, 6:59 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama pledged on Friday to reverse labor policies from his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, that unions have long contended favored employers over workers.

Obama, who won significant backing from trade unions in his Democratic presidential campaign, said there could not be a strong middle class, the focus of his economic recovery plan, without a strong labor movement.
He signed three executive orders to bolster unions in the workplace and strengthen workers' rights.

"I believe we have to reverse many of the policies toward organized labor that we have seen over the past eight years, policies with which I have sharply disagreed," Obama told a gathering at the White House.

"Labor is not part of the problem, it is part of the solution," he said to loud applause from an audience that included representatives of labor unions and business groups.

Complete story click here

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