Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Financial frustration

Since negotiations began almost 17 months ago, MediaNews negotiator Jim Janiga repeatedly insisted that they did not have the resources to offer any sort of wage increase at the Press-Telegram in the first year. The company has reluctantly proposed an across-the-board wage increase at the P-T of 1% the first year, while sticking to the proposal giving management the ability to subcontract out our work.

Economic bad times was the message delivered to the Long Beach City Council by Executive Editor Rich Archbold, who cited industry-wide problems, while deflecting criticisms over the company's decade-long practice of shrinking the number of staff through attrition and layoffs.

And Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram publisher Mark Ficarra said he planned on telling the council members individually the details of the company's fiscal position.

However, Ficarra has found the resources to provide wage increases at the non-union Daily Breeze. This is incredibly frustrating to staffers at the Press-Telegram, who view the move as insulting to their hard work.

Joe Segura,
P-T shop steward

29 comments:

LordForkLand said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Len Cutler said...

*Spam deleted

PT staffer said...

It's my belief the company has no interest in giving their staff a decent raise because a "victory" by workers at the PT would be damaging for MediaNews execs who insist that unions are not needed in their workplaces.

It's interesting to note that the company's proposal on wages to the Guild when bargaining began in April 2007 would have cost the company significantly more than the Guild's own wage proposal now. In other words, they continue to insist that our proposal (3 percent wage boost) borders on the "outrageous", when in fact it's actually much less of a hit to their pocket book than their own starting point. This is because newsroom staffing levels have been slashed by nearly 50 percent since April 2007.

Another point: a rough tabulation shows a wage increase of 3.5 percent for all remaining PT Guild staffers would cost the company less than $62,000 total per year - or about $186,000 through a 3-year contract term.

Kinda drives home the point that somebody up the chain doesn't want Long Beach workers to "win" no matter what.

Now that's "outrageous."

Anonymous said...

As usual, they find money when they really want to...sounds like business as usual in Langland!

Anonymous said...

The company's move creates a giant credibility problem for management, which needs to get its stories straight on available resources.

Anonymous said...

"blog administrators" need to spend less time editing and more time organizing. that's their primary mission.

Anonymous said...

Why is there such a large gap in times between sessions? Looks like one session a month, it makes no sense to me.

Who is stalling?

Anonymous said...

I'm a breezer,
Sanfield was freaking out when the Guild came over and gave everyone the Patton speech that we don't need a union.

It's my opinion the wolves are at the gates.

Anonymous said...

sanfield needs to fall on the sword like the brave editors and publishers have elsewhere, instead of being party to the self-destructive and unprofessional slashes that are designed strictly to protect obscene profits. but he's simply a singleton puppet.

Anonymous said...

sanfield feeds peanuts, and ficarra farts around as though he's responsible for only one newsroom in torrance. they're both expendable. good going, joe, on your comments.

Anonymous said...

We here at the Breeze received the same medical benefits as every unionized worker at California's MediaNews papers. Yes, we Breezers received small pay increases this year. Last year we received nothing.

From what I can tell, the Breeze is financially in better shape than the P-T or Daily News. Copley cut this place down long ago with layoffs and buyouts, and MediaNews has continued that trend.

I am all for unions. Totally. I would be glad to join you. But from what I can see, this particular union hasn't done much to protect any jobs lost recently at the Daily News or P-T, and hasn't done much to get its members a decent pay increase.

(Our increase sucks too by the way, several of our friends got laid off, and some positions were eliminated. We aren't sitting pretty here.)

Last week, I asked the union rep who approached me outside our building what benefit she could provide me. Instead of saying "job security, better pay and better benefits," she said "a voice."

Well, I got my own voice and I use it. The problem isn't whether I want to be a union member. That'd be just fine.

The problem is a union needs to do more than complain and make noise. It needs to succeed once in a while against management.

Bring me some success and I would be glad to sign up.

Anonymous said...

i work for another lang paper. we get a raise every year with our performance review. we're not union. maybe if you don't have a union you'll get a raise, too. just a thought.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the guild needs to prove itself.
It's failed to find the right focus for its energies for the past 10 years. At least,
That's what we've been told here at the Breeze.

Anonymous said...

hey, mister lang-er, do you get a raise every like other managers?

Anonymous said...

i work for another lang paper. we get a raise every year with our performance review. we're not union. maybe if you don't have a union you'll get a raise, too. just a thought.


Are you telling me to avoid the union, or to get my MBA?

Anonymous said...

ever since ficarra approved the raise for the breeze folks he's been a low profile at the stress-telegram.--sc

Anonymous said...

Breezer here. You know, you guys need to open your eyes. Phillip Sanfield works his ass off and has always, since day one, had our backs. If you guys weren't so damn worried about your freakin' union you'd realize that he's trying to improve your paper, your community and your standards. Or, I guess maybe we're trying to give you some standards because after working with some of you and dealing with the P-T, I wonder if you have any at all.

Anonymous said...

Breezer here. You know, you guys need to open your eyes. Phillip Sanfield works his ass off and has always, since day one, had our backs. If you guys weren't so damn worried about your freakin' union you'd realize that he's trying to improve your paper, your community and your standards. Or, I guess maybe we're trying to give you some standards because after working with some of you and dealing with the P-T, I wonder if you have any at all.

this clown sounds like herr sanfield's ghost writer or mother. herr sanfield silently stood by while singleton gutted the breeze -- an action this clown/ghost writer apparently endorses. you don't improve local journalism by outsourcing the staff with freelancers or "correspondents" or "staff writers" from woodland hills or some inland shell of a newspaper. folks can kiss sanfield's butt and salute all the cutbacks he's embraced, but go preaching that he's some saint. he's not. better yet, ask herr editor why he hasn't fallen on the sword like the brave editors and publishers in other papers across the country. go ahead, ask him. he will not be missed at the p-t.

Anonymous said...

Unions are worthless. Big waste of time and an insult to the workers' intelligence.

Len Cutler said...

Breezer here. You know, you guys need to open your eyes. Phillip Sanfield works his ass off and has always, since day one, had our backs. If you guys weren't so damn worried about your freakin' union you'd realize that he's trying to improve your paper, your community and your standards. Or, I guess maybe we're trying to give you some standards because after working with some of you and dealing with the P-T, I wonder if you have any at all.

Our policy is to try and allow an open discourse as much as possible, but I feel compelled to speak up here.

Regardless of your opinions on organized labor, I'm disappointed that you're insulting both your own co-workers, and the workers at a sister paper.

Remember, that newsroom has been reduced by almost 80% since the purchase by MediaNews. Now only will that affect quality, but it affects morale.

There are some great, hardworking, intelligent journalists working at the Press-Telegram, just as I'm sure there are at the Breeze.

Let's please try to remember that no journalist working in today's professional climate has it easy. Everyone is under extreme pressure - not only are they producing more with less resources, but many also face the added burden of an uncertain future and loss of job security.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight. You have a problem with someone questioning the level of quality the PT is working at but you have nothing to say about someone referring to your editor, who is Jewish, as herr? I'm appalled.

Anonymous said...

Wow.

When I wrote a post suggesting a union needs to show some me some success before I’d join -- which I would be glad to do – I thought somebody would respond with a list of accomplishments to try to sell me on it.

Instead, a couple of you decided to go after Phillip Sanfield. Hmmm. I guess you’ve proved my point.

I am against rich ownership and corporate salaries and profits and Republicans all that just like the next grunt, but I can’t believe your tactics.

I always wondered how you missed the fact that Sanfield could be an ally to you at the P-T.

When he got the job of Breeze editor, he wanted to simply make the paper better and work every day on journalism.

Instead, we were sold and he was asked to trim his budget. Then he was asked to provide oversight at the P-T, something I’m sure he’d prefer not to have to do.

He fought to keep the copy desks local – not in Woodland Hills – and kept as many of us employed as he could. His bosses would probably like him to cut more.

Now you’ve called him a Nazi.

Not only is that rude and misguided, it’s simply dumb and shows why you can’t get what you want. You could have gotten Sanfield on your side and working on your behalf. Instead you vilify him.

He has always been on the side of his employees,. He’s not our enemy. I’m not sure why you don’t get that. You want him to “fall on his sword?” That’s the last thing we want. We need him not just because he’s a fine editor, but he stands up for us. (Look what happened after editors fell on their swords at the Times. They found someone else to do the dirty work.)

And you know what? Despite what you think of Sanfield, he’d still be on your side.

Again, show me some success and show me some proper strategy before I will vote “yes.”

I don’t want to be against you.

guild and glad said...

To Anon (7/18 @11:10):

Your comments are worthy of a respectful response.

I'm told that recently this blog opened up comments at the request of some who suggested the moderators were screening them. Their hope, I think, was that in doing so, discussion and the free flow of ideas – whether we all agreed or not – would increase, and that people would be respectful and thoughtful when posting comments.

Anonymous personal attacks on individuals — management-types or otherwise — are cowardly. Our problems with the employer have everything to do with its business decisions we think are detrimental to us and the product we work hard everyday to produce, and nothing to do with personalities or individuals.

Unfortunately, there are a few disgruntled, unhappy and very negative people out there who find it convenient to hide behind an anonymous post and spew vitriolic criticism in all directions. I sincerely hope they are not LANG employees, because their emotionally-charged views don't represent those of the professional people I know at the P-T or any of our sister papers.

I'm not sure the union will try to "sell you" on the idea of being union. We have wins. We sometimes lose on issues too. It varies. But at the end of the day, the union isn't some abstract object out there. It's me. And my coworkers. Together. When we're unified and strong we're usually successful. But if we fail, its not always just because we didn't do enough.

I'm just glad that because I am union, I have a chance, because when my union coworkers and I stand strong and work together we CAN negotiate for better wages, benefits and working conditions. Because the company HAS to bargain with us. Without the union, a worker is stuck with having to settle with whatever the company wants to give. I've worked for a non-union paper that cut the staff, gave long-time workers only 2 weeks pay then kicked them to the curb and then cut the wages of those of us left to do our own jobs and that of the ones laid off. We couldn't do a thing about it.

So we have our problems, yes. But I'm guild and I'm damned glad.

Anonymous said...

Look I don't think the " Herr " comment was meant to racial and I don't think anyone knows he's jewish.
I'm a PTer and think it's great that people question the union and hope they do the same for management.Actions speak louder than words. I also agree that Sanfield does have a passion for good journalism and has made the paper look better. With Archbold though the PT's ally has been neutered, Sanfield was put in a position that unfortunately creates animosity and worry that favoritism could come into play. When making more cuts from the PT or Breeze, I would hope he does it without bias.
The raises given are greatly deserved for the people at the Breeze but it really makes PTers feel like shit and makes the union look weak despite them working their balls off trying to get a contract that gives then some job security and a raise that all of them deserve so they can enter a 1999 pay scale.
I would think that even some of the anti -PTers know that management wants the Breeze and the PT to be divided.

IT WON"T HAPPEN !

Anonymous said...

Breezer.

Sanfield will never be "with" anything union as long as he answers to Dean. He's an extension of a failed system.

I've never heard anyone so rosy on the outlook of a paper that's Singleton owned. Maybe they should look to the past first.

Once Breeze misses its budget, the ax will fall like it did elsewhere.
Right now, your clerks and library staff are being weighed.

But Breezer's like a cow on the slow line to the slaughterhouse. "All good so far... Lovely day for a walk eh? Hey you, no cutting in line..."

Slurs have no place in this board. Not least against your co-workers.

Anonymous said...

1) Let's not start calling people racist. "Herr" means "mister." The only way it's more offensive than "senor" or any other word is if you believe german = nazi.

2) The guild didn't call anyone anything. Some anonymous schmuck did that. For all I know, that was someone at the Breeze, or the Daily News, or the Toluca Lake Gazette. So don't say those are the "tactics" of the guild. If you believe that a group can be defined by the actions of a single member, then Breezer has added insulting your own people and your partner papers to the the "tactics" of the Breeze.

Let's all take a deep breath and just calm down. I don't think the employees at any LANG paper are trying to make an enemy out of anyone else.

Anonymous said...

Fighting among yourselves is exactly what MediaNews wants. It keeps everyone distracted from the real problems. Don't fall for it, union or not, you're all in this together.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said: "Let's not start calling people racist. "Herr" means "mister." The only way it's more offensive than "senor" or any other word is if you believe german = nazi."

So why didn't you say "Senor Sanfield"? Because perhaps that would make no sense? Let's not pretend there was no inference with the "Herr" comment. I think we're all smarter than that.

The bottom line is Sanfield is a good and ethical manager who has fought to keep jobs for the Breeze and the P-T, and perhaps those who think he should "fall on his sword" might want to take a look in the mirror. Editors aren't the only ones capable of resigning on a matter of principle.

Torrance Daily Telegram Staff Writer said...

Despite the cutbacks, lack of equipment and uncertainty, many of us in Long Beach continue to very much enjoy our work.
The fact that the whole shop hasn't moved on to something more financially lucrative is proof of the staff's commitment to this awesome city. Or possibly it's proof that we enjoy suffering (as has been mentioned to me many times in recent years)?

Anyway, it would seem to me that management would find it in their best interest to channel this energy and dedication into better journalism - which in turn benefits them.
And a decent raise would go a long way toward directing staffers back on a positive track.
But maybe my dad's right when he tells me they want us frustrated to the point where we quit and they can save even more money.

I'd hate to think he's right, but I wonder?

By the way, I'm glad Breezers got a raise. At least that's money that isn't going to Singleton!