Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Guild: Philadelphia Newspapers Using Bargaining as an Assault on Guild Members

The Bargaining Committee of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia Local 10 issued a memo to all Guild members last week saying that management has turned the bargaining process into an assault on Guild members and their work ethic.

The memo was published this morning on Romenesko. Here is the text:

From: Guild Bulletin
Sent: Wed 10/14/2009 4:07 PM
Subject: Philadelphia Newspapers Insults Guild Members, Stalls Productive Bargaining in Apparent Attempt to Sabotage the Enterprise.

Dear Guild member,

Philadelphia Newspapers today turned a contract bargaining session into an assault on the Guild’s members and our work ethic. The lack of substantive bargaining on the company's part suggests that it might be trying to sabotage its own bankruptcy reorganization plan and the entire enterprise in recognition that it may not prevail.

In what should be considered demeaning to every member of the Guild, the company's high-priced out-of-town lawyer said that an online enterprise such as Philly.com has a different work ethic than what is commonly found at major metropolitan newspapers such as those that we have devoted our lives to. Another company official referred to our contract as a "burdensome industrial model."

We also heard the company say our advertising reps' performance goals and disciplinary programs are not strong enough to compete with other media operations.

The battery of unspeakable insults, a thinly veiled attempt to stall productive talks, came during discussion of the Guild's proposal to make Philly.com a part of our bargaining unit.

The company's failure to submit economic proposals to accompany proposals that already seek to destroy our contract is the opposite of constructive, good-faith bargaining. It appears increasingly clear that the company has no intention of actually reaching a contract with our Guild thus jeopardizing its own survival plan. The company's own bankruptcy plan calls for having contracts acceptable to its Stalking Horse bidder (made up of company insiders Bruce Toll and the Carpenters Union Pension Fund, and philanthropist David Haas) before that group puts up any money.

While the company pursues bargaining proposals that strip our contract of seniority, claiming it is necessary to achieve an economic advantage in an increasingly competitive market, it continues to throw money at a costly and time consuming legal battle in the courts. This approach keeps draining assets from the estate, possibly in efforts to do further harm to the operation to spite the senior lenders in the event they take control.

The Guild and Philadelphia Newspapers have not set our next bargaining date.

In solidarity,

The Bargaining Committee of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia Local 10

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