Monday, March 24, 2008

Rally lifted our spirits, gave us voice but no contract — yet

* Edited and link added– While our bargaining committee met with the company today at a hastily convened off-site location perhaps to avoid our pro-labor rally, Press-Telegram alums, supportive community and labor leaders, union brothers and sisters, family and friends joined us today at our noontime rally where we gave voice to our demands for a fair contract and an end to corporate union-busting at the Press-Telegram.

Members of the Long Beach city council including Mayor Foster came by to offer support. Councilwomen Bonnie Lowenthal and Tonia Reyes Uranga grabbed signs and joined our parade as we strolled for an hour during lunch break on the Ocean Boulevard sidewalk in front of the Arco Building where P-T offices are housed.

"With the slash and burn techniques of the Singleton Group, the Media[News] Group ... what they're doing is debilitating a good neighborhood newspaper," Councilwoman Reyes Uranga told us. "You are the placeholders for democracy here in the City of Long Beach...we need to let the entire community know that they need to get behind you and that you need to ensure that you have a contract — a fair contract — and we have reporters at the Press-Telegram that are well paid. And no more layoffs! No more layoffs!"

Councilwoman Lowenthal added her support for us saying "There is no replacement for local journalism." Referring to last year's sale of the old Press-Telegram building by MediaNews for $20 million, she asked the crowd, "Has anybody in Long Beach, any local journalist seen a penny of that money?" No!

Fact is, we have seen no evidence that the $16 million profit was reinvested in Long Beach's Press-Telegram. Just more cuts to staff and resources. Our newspaper has been sucked dry.

Bargaining committee members joined us at the conclusion of what turned out to be a very short session. The company moved a nanometer: it offered to drop it's push for the right to freeze wages at any time and for any reason of its choosing, but only if we accept its 0-2-2 percent wage offer (over 3 years). See related story at presstelegram.com.

Hmm, so ten years ago we earned 5% more than we earn now. Now let's factor in current COLA and inflation rates ...

— Pictured: At top, staffers and friends raise voices in rally chants; bottom left, councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal; councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga, in bottom right photo at left with P-T alum and former unit chair Natalie Shore.
Photos by P-T photographer and Guild member Steven Georges

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful to see the Press-Telegram employees making their voices heard.

I wonder what the effect would have been if people had shown this much effort and passion for the Union back when it might have made a difference? Feeling strongly about the integrity of the Press-Telegram is great.

It's just that it took a complete gutting of the newspaper for people to finally show how much they care. And now these protests will do nothing to improve the lives of workers at the PT, even as the corporate owners hatch plans to finish the elimination of the Union.

These shows of support would usually be so great to see. At this point, they're depressing.

Anonymous said...

The company needs to respect its creative talent. Give em a raise already!

Anonymous said...

I wish Feenomite was there. I miss him

Anonymous said...

MediaNews is gonna win and there's NOTHING anybody can do about. That's the way the system is set up....get over it already.

former journo said...

Why fight? Consider this...

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

(- Edmund Burke, 1729-1797)

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to find out if the recently cut jobs could have been saved had the Union accepted management's (admittedly horrible) proposal.

Did the contract include a pledge to not cut jobs? Seems that should be the most important issue, since middling raises do nothing for people who have been laid off.

former journo said...

The company NEVER promises not to cut jobs. They always reserve the right to "restructure the workforce" when they want to.
In fact one major proposal on the company's side is to "subcontract out all work"-so that would mean even more job losses, not less.
I'm sure if it were all up to Uncle Deano everyone would be a freelancer...or unpaid intern if he could get away with it!

Anonymous said...

The personal attacks on Feenomite are hilarious.

Where was all this fire and brimstone (and focus) when the Union actually had a chance to accomplish something positive for the workers?