Wednesday, August 23, 2006

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.


At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They raid their own pension fund, we bail them out and this is what we get? Put me down for a "NO".

At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More on the Blethens from
Unions suspect Blethens plan to sell their Maine newspapers
Union officials negotiating new contracts at the Blethen family's three Maine daily papers -- the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Morning Sentinel, and the Kennebec Journal -- base that on the cutbacks sought by management. "If the union position were substantially weakened, that would make the papers -- which are struggling financially -- far more appealing to outside buyers," notes Jeff Inglis.

At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Anonymous Nostradamus said...

From the blog on Aug. 11, regarding the 2-in-10 language:

Get ready for the big "in the interest of a deal, we're making another giant concession" speech when they pull it off the table at the last minute, with the intended effect of making the membership sprint to the polls to approve a contract with only a simple reduction in wages to swallow.

At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's up here? Everytime I look at this site the company seems to come out on top. This is very depressing to us in the field. Does any one feel the same as I do?

Please let us know what is happening! Why is management so much in command?

Why even bargain if we are going to loose anyway?

This is my second try to log on to this blog. I hope this goes thru.

Please look at your updates. They are giving the impression you are beat.

Please answer the hard questions so we can feel that we did the best we can.

At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Anonymous Chris said...

I worked for the Times for six years before being unceremonously dumped. This is all so reminicent of the last time the Union tried to "deal" with the Times' management.

Time to face facts: the Union is weak and selling you out. They accept a wage freeze over the 2 and 10 clause? Does this stink to anyone else? Everything I've read on this blog has been basically, "We'll accept no wage freeze". I haven't heard jack shit about "We'll accept no 2 and 10"? Why? It's clear there are things important to Union officials and things that are important to the front line employees and those interests don't really seem to intersect.

If you're smart, you'll get the hell out of Dodge while there's still some time. When I left the Times, I got a better job with better benefits and better pay. MUCH better pay. It took a while, but it happened.

My prediction: Exactly what happened last time. Everybody will bitch and moan and you'll go on strike. Then, when the going gets tough the Union will admit defeat and you'll accept exactly what management wants you to accept.

This should be news to nobody that was around 6 years ago. This is business as usual with the Times. Remember all the scabs that got to stay on even though the contract specifically said they were to be replaced with real workers? That was the joke about that whole bailing out their retirement fund. They don't stick to their agreements. They don't care about you or your families or the community. All they care about is that you realize that they are in charge and you're to do as they tell you without griping.

This was my favorite part of the Union's blog entry:

>>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.<<

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.

Yes, you read it right both times. You'd think the experience from 6 years ago would be a "galvanizing one" for the Guild. You'd think they'd have put everything into preparing for this negotiation, knowing full well how Times management operates. What happened? Did they come back this time stronger? Doesn't sound like it. This sounds way worse than the last shitty contract the Times force fed their employees.

So find a new job. You're never going to be treated as anything other than commodities by both Times management and the Guild.

Or just bend over and take it.

At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This "tenative" agreement is completely unacceptable. We got nothing. Even if the contract IS for only two years, I think our guild representatives could have done much better. There are so many of us that are hanging on by a thread financially, besides the SOP issues, the sick leave issues, and the shady "doings" in advertising. It's ridiculous. The Guild needs to rethink their stance, and figure out which side they are truly on.

At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There won't be a Seattle Times without any employees if you know what I mean.

At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Blogger Susan Kelleher said...

Thanks very much to the negotiating team, not only for their efforts, but also for the tenor and frequency of their updates.

Unlike former employee Chris, above, I'm glad to be working here. I'm also a little bothered by someone who no longer works here weighing in on our contract.

That said, it has been disturbing to watch the negotiations unfold and to see the final results. The way I understand it, we're not getting a wage freeze, but a likely wage reduction when you factor in our share of medical insurance premiums.

Gene Balk said that by the end of the contract, we can expect to earn about 20 cents less an hour because of increases to the amount we pay for medical insurance. Gene said the medical wage diversion has historically increased, on average, about 10 cents an hour each year. During bargaining, Chris Biencourt said he expects that trend to continue.

If that's the case, the highly probable scenario is that we can expect to make 10 cents per hour less next year, and then another 10 cents per hour less the following year.

At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know about you guys, but I have about 700 hours of sick leave accrued. Cough, cough...

At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Blogger ivan said...

So you "think our guild representatives could have done much better," whoever you are.

Well, because I have been in their shoes, across the table from the Times, and you almost certainly have not, let me tell you that you're dead wrong.

I don't know some of these folks. They have come onto the scene since I have left the Teamsters, and certainly since I have left the newsroom.

But I'll tell you why they couldn't possibly have gotten any better than they got. It's because Guild members, in their infinite wisdom, elected certain officers whose livelihood and well-being depended on sucking up to management.

Those same people either crossed our picket lines in 2000-2001 or didn't actively support the strike. Those same people caved on the pension, and campaigned actively against Guild participation in the Committee for the Two Newspaper Town.

The effects of their actions were to tie the hands of your hard-working, long-suffering Administrative Officer, and of your negotiating team, because, after all, the bylined elite have theirs, and they don't give a rip if you don't have yours.

They think "the family" will take care of them. But they are all Steve Dunphys in waiting.

Maybe some people think I should shut up and butt out, because, after all, I got mine, too. But you see, I have this devotion to calling it as I see it, which is why I decided on a career in journalism 40 years ago.

I thank my lucky stars every day that I am out of that hell hole, and when every one of you is out of there someday, you will thank your lucky stars as well.

My biggest regret is that I didn't do more to make my union stronger. Those of you who know me know also that I gave it my best shot. The truth, whether you like it or not, is that most of you did not give it *your* best shot.

So those of you who are looking for someone to blame for the terms of this tentative agreement should start by looking in the mirror.

The next thing you should do is give every single member of your negotiating team a big hug and all your thanks. It's the least you can do, because you're the ones who sent them bare-handed into a knife fight.

Ivan Weiss
CWA-Guild Local 37082, 1968-2000
Teamsters Local 763, 2002-2003

At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So basically, the Guild bent over and took it from management. They got everything, and we got nothing. We got a wage CUT, and can't even take our own birthdays off as an exchange. Put me down for a no, and I hope others will follow. Management is used to beating us down, and the Guild seems to be ok with that, from looking at these recent agreements. I hope that other employees see that this is the chance to stand up for ourselves, unless you want to endure this type of treatment for who knows how many more years. I'm embarassed to work for this company.

At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't help feeling angry, at the company but also at the negotiating team. I know you guys spent many long hours "negotiating" with a wall. I know that was hard, and tiring, and frustrating. But at the same time, you've been reading posts on here for weeks that screamed "no wage freeze." Did those pleas fall to deaf ears? Apparently.

I understand a 2-in-10 agreement weakens the union, but no one was wailing about that like we were about wages. You were elected to represent the union's wishes. The only message we've given the company is that we have absolutely no power whatsoever and we'll accept whatever they demand. That's the same in my opinion as a 2-in-10 agreement, or a 5-in-10 agreement - either way, what's the point of a union???

At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Blogger TribbleKat said...

Quick note to let you know we're not ignoring you: I've been at work all day, and now I'm going to go eat something.
(So be patient if your comment doesn't show up for a while.)
Back later this evening,

At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am completely disgusted with the bargaining team. They heard 2-in-10 and immediately panicked. And now, is it surprising that the wage freeze is going to go into effect? No, because the team was too busy campaigning to prevent the 2-in-10. Well what good is a union if it doesn't do the job it's supposed to do?

And I see no reason for people who no longer work for the company to be tossing in their anti-company rhetoric. You don't work here. We get it. Some of us still do, and some of us like working here.

Deal with it.

At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Blogger TribbleKat said...

Just a quick note to clear up a misconception: The 2-in-10 proposal was not traded for the wage freeze.

(Our offer was to trade 2-in-10 for card-check/neutrality, because they're sort of two sides to the same coin.)

Members of the bargaining team are your co-workers at the Times, so a wage freeze comes out of our pockets, too.


At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What good is a union? If it weren't for our Guild contract, do you think the company would have given us wage increases these last six years instead of giving them to management? Don't kid yourself - we'd be into our 4th or 5th year of wage freezes by now if it weren't for the union.

At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's pointless to imagine what we'd be without a union. The point is, we have a union, and elected representatives, and it doesn't seem that those representatives heard what members have been saying for the past weeks - no wage freeze! I believe in a union, that's why I'm saying that our representatives should have demanded what WE asked for - raises. Let's not sidestep that issue by using similar rhetoric to what the company uses ("where would you be without us? - Nowhere.") Why was the 40 cents dropped to 25, and then tossed out altogether? That's what I want to know.
And for the record, it's possible to believe in and support the union, respect the bargaining team, but not agree with the agreement. That's where I stand.

At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been on a negotiating team previously and want to thank the tean for doing everything possible.
But what they need more than anything right now is for all of us to send a loud and clear message to management by voting this down overwhelmingly and by showing up in good numbers to vote and ask questions.
If we are to accept a wage freeze it should be for one year only, and there must a re-opener next year for wages only. Again, this would be after the arbitration decision has been made. Should The Times win it, it should be in a position to invest in us with a decent wage increase.
Also, I would recommend that with a one-year wage freeze we should fight for any medical-insurance increase being paid by The Times.
Sure unaffiliated have gone without a raise for several years in an economic climate in Seattle where inflation was 1`/2 to 1 1/2 percent. All indicators are this year it will be 3 1/2-4 per cent. That's ridiculous for us to be asked to take a hit like that and still support a family.

At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did we get any assurance that we would be rewarded if we accept this contract? Alayne said in her e-mail that we were in "tough" times and if we all worked together we would be better off. She was thanking us in advance for accepting this contract. I say we do not accept this contract with out some future promises in writing. Have "what if" clauses put in the contract so that we will at least have something to look forward to. You say this is "only" for two years? then what? We are going to "fight" hard in these next two years? For what? Require the Times to put "promises" in writing so we won't have to go through this again two years from now. Frank crys about the Hearst corporation bleeding them dry. Well, what happens if the arbitrator rules in the Times favor. All that "money" that Hearst is "bleeding" from the Blethen's will be "available" Don't make us have to fight for it again in two years. Put it in now!!

If this or that happens then this amount of money will be passed on to the employees. It should be easy to put these types of clauses in a contract. There are only three or four different senarios that might happen. Put them all in the contract. "If this happens then..."

At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know most of us post anonymous for various reasons and there may be those that post "anonymous" that no longer work here. But I for one could give a shit what Ivan Weise thinks about anything. He no longer works here and apparently is still bitter about it. Nobody cares what you think Ivan and I would ask the moderator not to allow him to post on this personal matter.

At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since we now all know how much sick leave we have and you really want to "make a statement" we could all get "sick" on the same day?

I don't feel like going to work at all anyway because of the way the company is treating all of us. All we have to do is act on how we "really feel" It has made us all violently ill.

Some of us have only taken three or four "sick days" in 20+ years. Maybe it's time to challenge that "new sick leave policy."

At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no feelings of entitlement. Demanding a raise from a company that has been losing money for years in a dying industry is folly.

However, if that company then refuses to make even the most benign and token goodwill gesture of a birthday holiday, then I know that my morale is of less value to them than my wages.

At Wednesday, August 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well isn't this just a fine kettle of fish? Half of these posts are illiterate, the misspellings and tense torture make me wonder how you all got hired in the first place. Yes the union is looking after itself, but in the old days it would share the bounty. Now it looks like the only "raise" we can get is to decertify the union, not pay $70 a month in dues, and take it in the shorts directly from the "da family." And Ivan, you are a know-it-all fraud who should have been fired years before you got your (very lucrative) walking papers. Really what should happen is 50 layoffs from the newsroom and raises for those who make the cut. The Blethen/Boardman/Fancher "excellence" is just a cheerleading fraud -- they get kicked upstairs (can they admit they got raises, too?) right in the middle of these negotiations and called a big meeting so we could all clap for them. Does anyone need a barf bag? I don't know whether to vote no to send Blethen/Boardman/Fancher a message or yes to get rid the flaccid Guild. Plus I'd like to hear from Judd, whom I respect.

At Thursday, August 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

$.40 per hour does equal close to $70.00 per month. So if we didn't have to pay guild dues we would in essence be getting a raise a least the first year.

Of course we would all be fired by the time that happened though so it's kind of a catch 22.

At Thursday, August 24, 2006, Blogger James Geluso said...

I don't work at the Times; I (and many of my coworkers) want to work there someday, so I watch this closely and care about what happens.

My guess is that the Guild team didn't trade 2-in-10 for wage freeze. All the protesting y'all did that you didn't want a wage freeze was heard by the team. But the company didn't give the Guild a choice between wage freeze and 2-in-10. The company wanted a wage freeze, and was going to make sure you had a wage freeze, period. Anything else it got was just gravy.

James Geluso
Reporter at the Skagit Valley Herald
Guild e-board member

At Thursday, August 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since "comment moderation has been enabled" why are we allowing comments from people who don't work at the Times? Isn't this supposed to be a place for us to discuss our issues? Do we need outside agitators?

I don't believe that really is Ivan writing that crap. It has to be a management stooge trying to get people angry and trying to divide Guild members before we vote on the contract.

At Thursday, August 24, 2006, Blogger TribbleKat said...

If you've met Ivan, you know he'd be well-nigh impossible to imitate. I knew from his writing style that it's him, but I also got an e-mail from him.

So it's either Ivan or someone who's hacked his longtime e-mail account and become fiendishly clever at writing like him.

We'd like to keep this forum as open and unrestricted as possible.

It's up to each reader to give anonymous or "outsider" comments the weight you feel they deserve.


At Thursday, August 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yeah. Let's decertify the union. We've already given up the pension for nothing and gotten out of the CTNT 'cuz it was putting Frank's tail in a knot. Maybe Frank will reward us for dumping the union. Only, then we'd just be defenseless when he cuts wages by the amount of our Guild dues because "you weren't seeing that money anyway."

And for all you morons claiming the negotiations committee sold us out: They got what they could. They deserve our gratitude for having to sit across the bargaining table from Frank's minions.

They are bringing back the package the "benevolent" family wants us to have.

Our choice is simple: Vote the m'f**ker down and send the negotiating committee back to the table with a unified message to the company that we are not going to take this crap.

At Thursday, August 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am SOOOOOO voting NO! ! ! !

Wage freeze? Come on ! ! ! !

Can I tell THE CITY when my tax bill comes with an increase that I can't pay anymore because the Times is under financial hardship and cannot afford to give me a raise? Can I tell my UTILITY & CAR INSURANCE companies when they raise their rates, that I'm paying last years rates, and will continue doing so until my employer choices to give me a cost of living raise?

HELL NO ! ! ! ! ! ! VOTE NO ! ! ! !

At Thursday, August 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

those Bastards.

Hell No, Vote No ! ! ! !

At Thursday, August 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd sure like to hear from negotiating team members, particularly those who oppose the agreement. Is there something in particular that is missing from the agreement that causes you to oppose it? And if we vote it down, is there a suggestion about what we do next?

At Thursday, August 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So 2-in-10 is totally out? Because if the Guild isn't going to fight for us, but instead back down and sell out on us, why the hell are we wasting $70 a month? If I'm expected to take a wage CUT -- let's face it, it's a cut, not a freeze -- then sign me up to be one of those two people who doesn't have to waste my hard-earned money on a union that apparently does not care about a damn thing we have been saying for the past few months. We said "absolutely no wage freeze." No one listened. This is crap.

At Thursday, August 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

likewise, it would be nice to hear from the majority of negotiating team members who voted to approve the contract. Why do you think this is the best deal we can get.

At Thursday, August 24, 2006, Anonymous david turim said...

I don't understand the ire of those who are so bitterly ragging our committee members for having failed to thaw management's wage-freeze proposal. Did any of you actually attend the negotiations? If so, the company's inflexibility on this issue would have been apparent; and if not just, scroll down this blog a few weeks and read for yourself about the the committee's repeated efforts to negotiate pay increases. Trading 2-in-10 for a payraise was never an option--for the company a wage freeze seems to have been a non-negotiable item, a fait accompli from the outset.
Frustration at this fact is understandable, but holding the committee accountable for it makes little sense.

At Thursday, August 24, 2006, Blogger Pat Fry said...

These are all very good questions that the bargaining team is prepared to answer at the meetings on the 13th and 14th. We understand everyone has immediate questions and concerns, but such concerns would be best voiced and discussed at these meetings. That's why we're having them. See you all there.


At Thursday, August 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems unreasonable to expect the bargaining committee to get blood from a turnip. In my many years here I have NEVER seen the company negotiate on anything. What is it about their string of no's that you didn't hear?

The next question is: What can we do about it?

Any ideas?

At Thursday, August 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to be honest, I don't see how there is going to be any way at all that I would ever even consider voting yes on this contract when the company is asking for a Wage Freeze but no exemption from Wage Diversions over the next two years. Given that Wage Diversions in the past have been upwards of .20 to .30 cents an hour per year (although someone earlier said that it was as low as .10 cents, but even that would bite), this could mean nearly half a dollar an hour LESS in pay in this time period for us people who are at the top of our tiers. I realize that there are very few of us "old folks" left around here who this will directly impact, but I still don't see why I should be made to accept what amounts to a REDUCTION IN PAY over the next two years and not receive anything at all in return….

With that said, if they provided a protection against Wage Diversions during this time period, I would definitely vote yes. Without it though, you can count on my vote being a resounding NO.

At Thursday, August 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My observation:

At Thursday, August 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's put the blame where it lies -- with Times management. Clearly they have no interest in the financial well-being of their employees. The passionate pleas from our bargaining committee fell on deaf ears, and that is no fault of their own.

I just wish the public could see this side of our "family" newspaper.

At Thursday, August 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is too bad the negotiating team won't answer questions in this forum, as well as at the meeting. Some people are uncomfortable asking -- or answering -- questions in a public forum. Others grandstand.

This blog should be a two-way communication tool. I urge individual negotiating team members to share their thoughts here. Otherwise, this is just venting.

At Thursday, August 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want a general membership meeting to debate this issue before we vote.

At Thursday, August 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a general membership meeting. That would allow P-I and members from other places to come talk about our contract.

A unit meeting. From the bylaws:

Section 4. Unit/chapel meetings will be subject to the call of the unit/chapel chairperson. Special meetings will be called by the chair at the written request of ten percent (10%) of the unit/chapel membership.


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