UMG to hold Local-wide meeting Sept 13

The United Media Guild will hold its next quarterly Local Meeting at 1 p.m. Sept. 13 at Kelleher’s Pub & Eatery in Peoria.

Kelleher’s comes highly recommended by Peoria unit char Phil Lucianp. It is on the riverfront at 619 SW Water St., Peoria, Il 61602.

This meeting is open to all members of the UMG. We believe this will be an especially good time for our members at GateHouse newspapers in Illinois  to come together and discuss the challenges ahead.

Our Springfield and Rockford units are negotiating first contracts. Pekin’s first collective bargaining agreement is up and the folks there are trying to negotiate a new deal.

Springfield unit chair Dean Olsen recently sent this update for this folks:

“Several things are obvious based on the comments from the GateHouse negotiator at the bargaining table: If it were up to GateHouse, there would be no raises for several more years. There would be higher health-insurance premiums. There would be a lower mileage reimbursement rate. And the company would have continued unfettered right to expand the use of freelancers — just in case more employees leave and GateHouse wants to further increase its profits by not replacing them.

“The message GateHouse is sending to its hard-working newsroom employees is this: Just be grateful you have a job. There is no more money for you, so shut up. And those positive messages you may be hearing about the advertising department’s performance? The negotiator says we should basically ignore them. The additional money the SJ-R is earning for GateHouse, he says, needs to be funneled to corporate to prop up other newspapers elsewhere and acquire more newspapers elsewhere. In other words, GateHouse wants to keep the gravy train flowing for GateHouse executives through six- and seven-digit bonuses for them and dividends for stockholders, most of whom are GateHouse officials themselves.

“We are butting up against the issues of pay and benefits at the bargaining table, and unless the company feels more pressure from us and the community, nothing is going to happen in our favor. Absolutely nothing!

“Labor Day will kick off a new level of pressure we plan to put on GateHouse — through new literature we will distribute during the Springfield Labor Day Parade, and through a schedule of events and activities that we will hold over the next few months. It all will start with the parade, which kicks off at 10 a.m. Sept. 1 in downtown Springfield.

“I am asking labor leaders, rank-and-file union members throughout the community, civic leaders and faith leaders to stand beside us and advocate on our behalf at upcoming events. There are people out there willing to help us, but we need to continue to show the community we’re willing to help ourselves.”

Expect similar escalation in Pekin and Rockford, two good labor communities that support working people.