Newspaper Guild Plans Thursday Rally

Negotiations continue, but contract expires this weekend.

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.

Negotiations between Philadelphia Media Network and the Newspaper Guild are apparently going down to the wire.

The two sides reportedly for 11 hours with a federal mediator on Monday, but left appearing little closer to a deal. The current contract between the two sides expires this weekend, and the guild — which includes the journalists of the Inquirer, Daily News, and, as well as members of the advertising, circulation and finance departments — could choose to strike at that time.

Before then, however, workers plan a lunchtime rally on Thursday outside PMN’s Market Street offices, with city and national labor leaders on hand to show their support.

In a Monday night memorandum (see below) to members, Guild leaders said the company had made some concessions on healthcare and seniority at the bargaining table on Monday, but not enough to warrant a deal.

The company’s proposals, they said, leave workers in a bad position: “You pay more, make less, your jobs are less secure.”

More bargaining sessions are planned today and Friday.

The full memo:

From: Guild Bulletin

The Guild Bargaining Committee spent 11 hours with a Federal mediator and company negotiators today and here’s where we are:

You pay more, make less, your jobs are less secure and we’re holding a rally for a fair contract Thursday at noon.

With regard to healthcare, the Company inched its additional contribution up from $500,000 to $700,000 which could mean increases of approximately $36/week to singles ($2,912 annually in total) and $90/week to couples and families ($7,280 annually in total). The Teamster drivers continue to pay nothing.

The Company’s seniority offer remains a joke. Under their proposal, in the event of a layoff (which is almost sure to happen given their horrible revenue report), the Company seeks to exempt 40 PERCENT of a group targeted for layoff. With approximately 150 reporters at both papers, under this plan, the company could exempt the 60 LEAST senior from the layoff. Or they could exempt the bottom ten and lay off No. 11, then exempt the next three, lay off No. 15 and so on in reverse seniority (last in, first out). This is a ridiculous system which will cause havoc and stress in any job category designated for layoff.

The Company is also now proposing a two-year contract instead of a three-year deal. The Company also claims to have removed the contract’s nine-month no-layoff provision, one of their few favorable proposals.

The Guild will host a lunchtime rally outside the building at noon on Thursday with city and national labor leaders on hand to show their support. We urge all members to attend to let the Company see what the newsrooms (Inquirer, Daily News, and advertising, circulation and finance departments will look like with no Guild members.

We return to the bargaining table tomorrow afternoon and Friday. The contract expires Saturday night at 11:59 p.m. The clock is ticking.

In solidarity,

Howard Gensler
Bill Ross
Diane Mastrull
Cindy Burton
Melanie Burney
Regina Medina
Brian McCrone

Lastly, check out Lance Haver’s letter in support of the Guild at (