2017 Labor Day Parade!

Sep 1, 2017 by

 

Every year the United Media Guild marches with our CWA sisters and brothers.  This year the CWA is second in line!  The line starts on Olive, at 15th St.), travels east to Tucker, turns right and goes to Market and turns right again and goes a couple hundred yards on Market.  That’s it.  It’s less than a mile.

The parade starts at 0900 but you need to get there early in order to get a CWA shirt (all the various unions hand out shirts to their members, usually it’s a common color).   Also, there will be a rally at 19th and Olive at 8:00 a.m. and everyone who is lining up is encouraged to stroll on over to check it out.  With organized labor and the middle class coming under constant attack, there are some wonderful organizations and coalitions doing good work to push back on behalf of working families and this rally promises to highlight some of that work (the rally is expected to run about 40 minutes).

As usual, once the parade is over, everyone gathers near the finish line for some refreshments.  I hope to see you all there!

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Rockford Register Star Bargaining Update

Mar 31, 2017 by

Proposals and counter proposals went back and forth during our two days of bargaining on March 14 and 15. We presented GateHouse with a comprehensive proposal addressing outstanding issues, including pay, health insurance, maternity leave, time off and mileage reimbursement.

We were hoping to reach compromise with GateHouse on multiple outstanding issues and reach tentative agreements on these matters. However, the company left after rejecting our third proposal during the two-day session.

Some concerning developments arose during this session.

The GateHouse negotiator said the increase in paid time off days, given to nonunion employees not long after our last bargaining session in November, was meant “to address retention.”

He calculated out that the seven additional days given to non-union employees carried a value of a 2.7% raise. He called it “free money” because employees would be paid and not have to work those days. He voiced the company’s position that management does not want to give parity with non-union employees by giving those seven days plus a pay increase (even after more than eight years without ANY raises).

So we countered by saying that we didn’t want the extra days off and would, instead, take an immediate 2.7% raise (they kept saying the extra days off were “like a raise” – – after we did this, they said “it’s not like a raise!”) since the seven extra days off in question were  not listed by the company as a one-year occurrence.  But the company’s representatives were not willing to talk about raises of any kind and would not, alternatively, give our members the seven paid days off that non-union employees already have been granted.

In the lengthy section called “Management Rights,” we were willing to agree to the wording ­ which GateHouse wants – with two slight additions – a mere 30 words stating that the company cannot discriminate against an employee because of his or her union activity nor use the Management Rights clause to evade any other provision in the contract (once it is finished and ratified). It’s pretty tame stuff, actually.  The GateHouse negotiator called this “insulting.”

Apparently insulting employees is quite acceptable, though.

The union also proposed adding a provision, which already is in use at another Guild-represented GateHouse paper.  That provision states that female employees who go out on maternity leave will be able to return to their former assignment when they return from their leave. This would prevent women from being penalized just for going on maternity leave; making sure no woman is removed from a plum beat or one that they really love simply because they choose to give birth.  This, unfortunately, happens at far too many newspapers.  At many papers, female journalists are only guaranteed they will keep their job (reporter) but not their assignment (or “beat”) that they have spent so much time working and developing.  It can (and often does) lead to mixed feelings when a female journalist is pregnant.  Male journalists suffer no such indignity and our proposed language addressed that inequality.

The GateHouse negotiator said that women who go out on maternity leave have a medical disability and he likened the experience to when he tore his Achilles heel. He said that Rockford Register Star Executive Editor Mark Baldwin opposes our proposal to restore a beat to the employee upon her return from maternity leave, saying that Baldwin told him “this is a talent business” and management will give these beats to others based on the substituted reporter’s talent (but, for the life of me, I can’t understand how a female employee loses her “talent” after giving birth).

During this back-and-forth, the Guild even offered to include the company’s sought-after provision stating management has the right to determine the frequency of publication. Yet, despite our willingness to move in the employer’s direction, management was still unwilling to agree to our proposed maternity leave language and GateHouse representatives walked away from two rather large provisions the were seeking.  What’s going on here?  Are these people just the ultimate control freaks?  Do they actually want to be able to control every single aspect of your life – including the deeply personal ones?  Or do they just not respect women and the contributions they make?

Your union remains committed to bargaining for a fair and equitable contract for both sides and hopes that there will be terms upon which the parties can agree when we return to the bargaining table on April 25.

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Right-to-Work is being debated right now in the Missouri Senate

Jan 24, 2017 by

Here’s a link to listen:

 

http://chamber.senate.mo.gov/SenateChamber

 

 

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Wanted: Full time copy editor

May 19, 2016 by

                                                              Full-Time Copy Editor

Truthout is looking for a full-time copy editor to edit articles and other content in our fast-paced virtual setting. This editor will also assist in determining style guidelines, writing headlines and article summaries, and preparing material for publication on our website. The ideal candidate is hard-working, detail-oriented, deadline-driven, politically savvy and kind.

Truthout offers a competitive salary, benefits, and a friendly and open work environment. Applicants should have at least two years of experience copy-editing for a journalistic publication. Please send resume and cover letter to jobs@truthout.org, as well as one writing sample. People of color, women, and queer, trans and gender-nonconforming people are encouraged to apply.

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Not since David slew Goliath . . .

Apr 5, 2016 by

umglogoOn January 28, Rockford Register Star Copy Editor Paula Buckner was discharged for “rude and disrespectful” comments to coworkers.  Buckner, who worked at the paper for 22 years, had the temerity to comment on how the newly formatted obits looked (she said they looked “like shit”) and question their oversized appearance.

**NOTE:  The Register Star recently went with a larger font on its obits and now squares them off as well.  Employees and readers alike don’t approve of the change and remark that it makes their paper look “really small town.”  This change gouges families by forcing them to buy bigger (and therefore more expensive) obits.

A management executroid was on hand during the exchange and informed Buckner the change to the size of obits was so older readers could see them easier.  Her reply (which I love, btw) was, “We had old people 20 years ago and we just now figured out that they have difficulty reading 8 or 9 point type?”

Days later, the paper called in Buckner and gave her a letter which cited other instances of her speaking out and terminated her.  The Guild, in turn, claimed that Buckner was a conscientious employee and pointed out that her colorful remarks were always about the quality – or lack thereof – of the work product and filed a grievance demanding her reinstatement.  The parties are now headed to arbitration.

**NOTE:  Even though we have not yet completed negotiating a contract at the Register Star, we are able to file and arbitrate grievances as a result of a mutual agreement signed and made enforceable on 2-24-15. 

In the past, when a bargaining unit member would depart, their unemployment insurance was always contested by the paper (but after a cursory review, the departed employee would still receive it).  I’d remarked on more than one occasion just how pernicious I’d thought their position was, only to be told that it was something they (the Register Star) were required to do by their insurance company and assured that, if anyone didn’t qualify and then appealed, the paper would never object or voice opposition (thus ensuring that the employee would qualify to receive their unemployment).

After Buckner was terminated, she filed for unemployment insurance.  As usual, the paper contested her unemployment but, this time, her case was rejected.  She then filed an appeal and it was at this point that we all got to see just how truthful Register Star management is in matters of employee relations.

The appeal hearing was conducted over the phone as a conference call.  The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) was in Chicago, Buckner was home and also on the call were: Register Star Executive Editor Mark Baldwin (seriously), Managing Editor Ann Durocher (I kid you not), HR Director Mona Kidd, the executroid who was present at the verbal exchange and a freakin’ corporate attorney from GateHouse (for those of you keeping score at home – that makes it five to one)!

Several of the Register Star representatives spoke and Paula replied to each, giving her version of events.  It was very matter of fact and the ALJ said that he would render a decision soon and that everyone should expect to hear from him in about a week.

One week later a letter arrived.

From the letter:

Conclusion:  820ILCS 405/602A provides that the term “misconduct” means the deliberate and willful violation of a reasonable rule or policy of the employing unit, governing the individual’s behavior in performance of his work, provided such violation has harmed the employing unit or other employees or has been repeated by the individual despite a warning or other explicit instruction fro the employing unit.

The Claimant made in error in judgement.  She did not set out to harm her Employer.  She did not realize that her actions could result in her discharge.  She had not been warned about this specific issue.  She did not raise her voice.  It was an isolated incident of little severity.

There was no competent evidence which could establish that the Claimant willfully and deliberately violated any company rule or policy of the Employer or that the Claimant’s actions caused harm to the Employer.  The Employer has failed to establish that the Claimant deliberately set out to violate the Employer’s reasonable rules or policies.

Based upon the preponderance of evidence presented at the hearing, and considering THE CREDIBILITY OF THE WITNESSES WHO TESTIFIED (emphasis is mine), it was concluded that the Employer failed to establish that the Claimant was discharged for Misconduct connected with work within the meaning and intent of Section 602A of the Act.

WHILE THE EMPLOYER MAY HAVE HAD ECONOMIC OR PERSONAL REASONS FOR THE CLAIMANT’S DISCHARGE (again, emphasis is mine), these reasons fail to constitute Misconduct as defined by the Act.

Decision: The Local Office determination is SET ASIDE.  Pursuant to 820 ILCS 405/602A, the Claimant is eligible for benefits, as to this issue only, from 1/31/2016″

A complete victory for the good guys!

Next item on the agenda is Paula’s arbitration hearing, where her union will argue for reinstatement and full back pay.  We are currently in the process of selecting an arbitrator.  Stay tuned.

 

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