Now it’s up to you
Three months of bargaining ended Wednesday with a tentative contract agreement between the Guild and Times management.
In the eyes of your Guild team, however, that simple statement is layered with disappointment, frustration, pride and even a little resignation. The Guild team agreed to drop the birthday holiday, accept the wage freeze and a version of the management rights clause. In return we get the company to pull its poison pills: The 2 of 10 proposal and the exemptions for the editorial writers and cartoonist. We’ll have a more thorough list later, along with proofs of the contract you’re going to be voting on.
Disappointment. We got very little in return for all the “goodwill” extended to the company by the Guild over the past six years. Management simply wasn’t moving.
Frustration. All the pleas and speeches in the world left us in the same place we started: Facing a company determined to extract yet another concession from its employees.
Pride. The members of this team argued with passion, persistence and eloquence.
Resignation. We now send this contract to you for a vote. There will probably be no unanimous recommendation from the Guild team. None of us likes this contract. We think the company could have given us more in recognition of the cooperation we extended in the past six years and in return for a wage freeze. But that’s not that way this company operates. Anyone who’s been paying attention during bargaining can see that. Compromise is not a strong point of Times management.
So it’s your call now. A couple of things to chew on.
1) This is a short contract. That’s little consolation to our brothers and sisters who are barely hanging on. We realize that. But this experience has been a galvanizing one for your Guild team. No matter what happens with this vote, we’re going to do everything we can to come back in two years stronger. We hope you’ll be there with us.
After all, just imagine what our situation would be WITHOUT the protection of our union.
2) A “no” vote does NOT mean we go on strike, but it also doesn’t guarantee leverage with the company. A “no” vote has to come with some kind of action from the membership. We don’t know what form that action might take. That’s certainly something to discuss on the blog and during the ratification meetings.
But know this: If you vote this contract down, be ready to do SOMETHING. Wear your shirts. Display stickers. Come to bargaining sessions.
The ratification vote will probably occur in about two weeks, after the Guild has proofed and re-proofed the contract and sent it to the company for a once-over. During that time, we hope all of you will send in your comments.
We also can’t stress enough the importance of coming to the ratification votes. This is your chance to have a voice. The team will be there to take questions. We’ll let you know the particulars as soon as we can.