PMN to Journalists: Here’s How You Can Cross Picket Lines
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.
“If there is still work available, employees will be able to return to work after the strike. If there is not work available for everyone, then some of the striking employees will not be able to return at that time.The Company will recall employees to work in accordance with its legal obligations.” said the memo sent by Keith Black, PMN’s vice president of human resources, later adding. “It is a lawful option for the Company to hire permanent replacements when employees conduct an economic strike.”
Bill Ross, executive director of the Newspaper Guild, decried Black’s “scare tactics.” “If the employer (had) spent the last eight months trying to reach a fair deal … we probably could have reached a settlement,” he said by email.
The Guild’s constitution does allow it to discipline and fine members, Ross said.
“As we have stated in the past, we do not want a strike to happen, and we do not believe it would be in the best interest of our employees,” Black wrote. “We understand, however, that a strike could happen.”
The guild responded with a memo that characterized Black’s memo as “a rather clumsy and predictable attempt to frighten our members to accept the Company’s inferior contract offer.” It also notes that his “helpful advice” is “a disingenuous blueprint on how to become a scab, that has been used by union-busting employers for decades” and “plagiarism in its purest form.” Then it gets nasty (read the full memo below): “Black’s absence of credibility and incompetence has been consistent throughout these negotiations.”
The Guild plans a rally today outside the offices of PMN, at 801 Market Street. The Newspaper Guild represents journalists, ad salespeople, and other support staff at PMN. Their contract expires this weekend.
See PMN’s memo, and the guild’s response, below.
Subject: GUILD BULLETIN: RESPONSE TO KEITH BLACK EMAIL
Keith Black’s memo regarding strike –related issues is a rather clumsy and predictable attempt to frighten our members to accept the Company’s inferior contract offer. His ‘helpful advice’ in the FAQ on how you can work in the event of a strike, that he claims the company “created” is a disingenuous blueprint on how to become a scab, that has been used by union busting employers for decades. Plagiarism in its purest form. As your bargaining committee can assure you, Black’s absence of credibility and incompetence has been consistent throughout these negotiations.
If the Company is concerned about our members’ welfare in the event of a strike, it has the absolute power to prevent a work stoppage. All it has to do is withdraw its proposal to eviscerate the seniority rights you have earned through your dedicated service during your tenures with the company and increase the Employer’s contribution to the Health & Welfare Fund, and thus avoid the devastating economic and job threatening consequences that its proposal represents.
Will there be consequences if there’s a strike? Of course.
If a work stoppage occurs because the Employer refuses to deal fairly and honestly with us we will discuss the lawful steps the Guild will take to protect you, including strike benefits, as well as the Employer’s continuing obligations, in a candid and accurate fashion.
Instead of hiring a union busting law firm, perhaps the money could be better spent in making a fair contract offer. After all, “It’s not charity, it’s an investment!”