Newspaper Guild Accuses Lenfest of Stirring Trouble With Bonus Announcement

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Gerry Lenfest was trying to stir trouble when he announced Wednesday that some — but not all — employees of Philadelphia Media Network will get a $1,000 bonus, the Newspaper Guild said in an angry memo to members Thursday.

“It was the equivalent of your boss coming to you and telling you that your colleague was getting something and you weren’t,” Guild leaders wrote. “In a workplace seeking harmony and cooperation, that values trust, respect and honest communication, who does that? What purpose does it serve?”

A spokeswoman for Philadelphia Media Network said the company would have no comment. Read more »

Gerry Lenfest Awards $1,000 Bonuses to Philly Newspaper Workers*

Philanthropist H.G. "Gerry" Lenfest speak at a news conference after a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Photo | AP, Matt Rourke

Philanthropist H.G. “Gerry” Lenfest speaks at a news conference after a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Photo | Matt Rourke/AP

Here’s the good news: If you work for the Inquirer, Daily News, or Philly.com, Gerry Lenfest is going to give you $1,000.

The not-so-thrilling news? If you’re a member of the Newspaper Guild, you won’t see any of that money in cash. Instead, it’ll go to help pay for your health insurance costs.

“As negotiated by their leadership, in lieu of the $1,000 bonus being paid to the Guild’s individual members, a payment of $1,000 for each Guild member is being made to that union’s (health and welfare) plan,” Lenfest said in a Wednesday afternoon email announcing the bonus. Read more »

Newspapers Offer Buyout to Older Inquirer, Daily News Workers

inquirer-daily-news-philly-com-940x540Philadelphia Media Network is trying to shed some of its longest-tenured employees — Newspaper Guild members with 25 years or more working for the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com are being offered voluntary buyout packages.

The buyout offer went out Monday afternoon to roughly 150 members of the Guild, which represents journalists, ad sales employees, and other support staffers at the news organizations. The buyout was negotiated as part of the recent two-year contract between PMN and the Guild.

Unlike many buyout offers, this effort is not a prelude to layoffs, company officials said. Read more »

Newspaper Guild Files Grievance Over “Dress Code”

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Shutterstock.com

Last week, the Newspaper Guild ratified a two-year contract with Philadelphia Media Network and it seemed a new era of labor peace might be at hand at the company that owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com.

This week, they’re feuding again. Over clothes.

The Guild — which represents journalists, ad staffers, and other support staff at the newspapers — said Wednesday it had filed a labor grievance against the company — over a “dress code” on workers that union leaders said had been unfairly imposed by management. “We believe that institution of such a code, without discussion and without the grandfathering in of employees of who have repeatedly violated the alleged code for decades, would be a change in work rules that was not negotiated,” Bill Ross, the Guild’s executive director, said in a memorandum to members. “We believe such a move would be a mandatory subject of bargaining.”

Management at PMN declined comment. Read more »

Inquirer, Daily News Staffers Approve New Contract

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Shutterstock.com

Members of the Newspaper Guild on Monday night decisively approved a new contract that governs reporters, ad staffers and other support staffers at the Inquirer and Daily News.

“It was an overwhelming ratification vote,” said Bill Ross, the union’s executive director, of the 259-12 approval vote. “We think our membership is ready to make these newspapers and website the best they can be.” Read more »

Newspaper Guild Releases Details of Agreement

With the future of Philly’s two major daily newspapers at stake and the clock ticking down toward a likely work stoppage, both sides on Friday gave a little something to get something.

Philadelphia Media Network — which owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com — decided that it would pay the increased health insurance costs of its employees. The Newspaper Guild — which represents journalists, advertising staff and other support workers at the papers — decided it would give a little bit on seniority, allowing the company some bit flexibility in deciding which staff it wants to keep in the event of future layoffs. (The details of the deal were released in a memo to guild employees this morning; see the full document below.)

The result? After eight months spent at impasse mostly over those issues — and barely 24 hours before their contract was due to expire — the two sides struck a deal, with the resulting handshake (seen above) between Stan Wischnowski, the company’s vice president for news operations, and Howard Gensler, the guild’s president.

Read more »

No Strike: Newspaper Guild, PMN Reach Tentative Agreement

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Shutterstock.com

There will be no Philadelphia newspaper strike after all.

On Friday night — after an exhausting 11-hour negotiating session with a federal mediator, and 25 hours before their contract was set to expire — the Newspaper Guild and Philadelphia Media Network announced they had reached a “tentative agreement” on a two-year contract.

The Guild represents journalists, ad sales people, and other support staffers at Philadelphia Media Network, which owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com. Read more »

Newspaper Strike Countdown: Scenes From Today’s Rally

Photos by Joel Mathis

Photos by Joel Mathis

Tick, tock.

Hundreds of Newspaper Guild members marched during a noontime rally Thursday at the Market Street office of Philadelphia Media Network, chanting demands for a fair contract as the clock ticked down on just more than two days left before the current work agreement expires. Read more »

PMN to Journalists: Here’s How You Can Cross Picket Lines

The Newspaper Guild has already printed picket signs in case of a possible strike.

The Newspaper Guild has already printed picket signs in case of a possible strike.

With a possible strike by the Newspaper Guild looming, Philadelphia Media Network today sent employees a memo apparently aimed at getting them — or at least a few of them — to stay on the job during a walkout.

Yes, you can keep working if a strike is called, said the memo from the company that owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com. We’ll provide security and a safe way to report in to your managers. And if you’re worried about being fined by the Newspaper Guild for crossing the picket line — well, here’s a template for a letter you can send that exempts you from most responsibilities that come with union membership.

And, oh yeah, if you do walk out? Don’t necessarily expect to come back, ever. Read more »

Lenfest to Journalists: Newspapers Aren’t A Charity

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Gerry Lenfest may be one of Philly’s foremost philanthropists, but he’s not going to treat the newspapers he owns like a charity.

That was the message Lenfest, owner of Philadelphia Media Network — which owns the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com — sent to employees this morning as negotiations continue between PMN and the Newspaper Guild race toward this weekend’s expiration of the contract between the two.

“I have given substantial donations over the years to charitable institutions,” Lenfest wrote in a memo emailed to all of the company’s employees. “PMN is not a charity but rather it is a business, and as such it must be self-sustainable.”

The Guild’s leadership shot back in a memo of its own:

“For us, this company has been a charity. We have lost our pension. We haven’t had a raise in six years. In fact, we have given back raises. We have paid more for health care because the company has not increased its contribution in 15 years,” they wrote, and added: “The company negotiators do not appreciate these sacrifices. They won’t even acknowledge them.”

Read more »

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