Thursday, January 15, 2009

At last!

After almost two years, it's finally over.

Our bargaining team announced today that a tentative agreement has been reached in negotiations with MediaNews' Press-Telegram, and all that's left now is for members to review and approve the plan.

The proposed contract calls for a 2/2/2 wage increase (two percent at ratification, and subsequent annual raises of another two percent), and perhaps most importantly, gives Guild-covered newsroom employees a one-year moratorium on layoffs. Given industry conditions at the moment, obtaining such a guarantee is no small accomplishment.

After a year, if employees are laid off, the team secured additional benefits and rights for our members, including 60 days advance notice (or pay in lieu of), additional severance, and extended health and tuition-reimbursement coverage.

This settlement was a long time coming, and clearly this could not have happened without the patience and support of our members. It wasn't always easy, but it was always important.

Additionally, political and civic leaders, advertisers, and everyday readers stepped forward during these long months to stand with us. We'd like to thank you all individually, but the list is staggering. This truly was a community effort, and the support we received has been invaluable.

Guild rep Vicki Di Paolo sent the following:

Words cannot express the respect I have for this bargaining team. Over the past two years Joe Segura, Kris Hanson and Steve Carr have gone above and beyond to do everything they could to secure this contract for Guild members. They have spent countless hours at my kitchen table planning strategy and preparing proposals. Although we have had our differences we were always able to come to the same page and move forward. This unity contributed greatly to our ability to get the best contract language we could have reached. I could go on and on, but I won't. I'll simply say thank you guys, you're the best. - Vicki

33 comments:

Kris Hanson said...

I want to personally thank all of our allies for sticking with us during these trying months. If nothing else, the agreement gives PT newsroom workers job security during what will likely shape up to be one of the worst years (and in one of the hardest-hit industries) in America's economic history. I find it fitting that our ratification vote comes on the day of Obama's inauguration - hopefully marking the dawn of something new and positive.

Anonymous said...

You sappy bastard...


Congrats guys! You did it!

Anonymous said...

Congrats.
Now use that that job security to plan your escape from the SS IncompeRich before it's too late.

Anonymous said...

Mad props to Hanson, Steve and Joe for persevering through so many months (years???) of b.s. I know everyone at the P-T must have been frustrated. Just imagine what those guys went through.

Len Cutler said...

Mad props to Hanson, Steve and Joe for persevering through so many months (years???) of b.s. I know everyone at the P-T must have been frustrated. Just imagine what those guys went through.

Agreed. This was nothing less than an ordeal for everyone involved, but the bargaining team put in more effort and endured more frustration than most of us realize. I know they took it personally whenever there was another layoff or they weren't able to resolve things quickly. Their dedication to the newsroom and their fellow employees is really remarkable, and the P-T is lucky to have them.

Anonymous said...

Excellent work getting the "no layoffs" pledge.

It will be interesting to see how Singleton's people get around that in the coming months. Guaranteed, they're already looking for a way. With the copydesk moved to West Covina, that leaves how many people in the newsroom in Long beach?

Or . . . they just realize that they've already cut what they're going to cut.

Anonymous said...

They will cut from management, that will be what happens.

Anonymous said...

"They will cut from management, that will be what happens."

What a pleasing fantasy.

Anonymous said...

There will still be layoffs, just not in Long Beach. There are plenty of other places they can wield the knife.

I expect things to get ugly in Los Angeles and Torrance pretty soon.

Anonymous said...

Do you guys get back pay for those two years?

Anonymous said...

thanks should go out to the people that took the bullet in order to get the contract signed

Anonymous said...

OK, we'll try this. It's fantastic for the people that kept their jobs, but really STINKS for the people that just got laid off. They really could have used the assurance of one year without layoffs and more severance. Why couldn't this have happened two weeks ago.

Anonymous said...

Because the company wasn't ready to agree to the Guild's proposal for no lay off language.

Anonymous said...

"Because the company wasn't ready to agree to the Guild's proposal for no lay off language."

In other words, this isn't a victory at all. The company waited until its business was finished, then said, "Oh, we're done laying people off now. So let's talk contract!"

The company has gotten the better of the Union every step of the way. It even has the Union celebrating this contract when the damage has long since been done.

If the Union really wanted to help P-T workers, leadership would urge everyone to find new jobs ASAP.

Anonymous said...

Is there going to be back pay?

Anonymous said...

wow celebrating after your co-workers got axed! Sad Sad Sad .... they will always get around the "no layoffs" clause ... enjoy little puppets

Len Cutler said...

In other words, this isn't a victory at all. The company waited until its business was finished, then said, "Oh, we're done laying people off now. So let's talk contract!"

That's how negotiations work. Both sides try to get what they want. But you seem to misunderstand what happened. MediaNews didn't simply "give away" a no-layoff guarantee and a raise, simply because they were feeling generous. The team fought for it, and over the course of two years we finally reached an agreement.

The company has gotten the better of the Union every step of the way. It even has the Union celebrating this contract when the damage has long since been done.

The union isn't celebrating, those are the employees. I think they've earned the right to it.

If the Union really wanted to help P-T workers, leadership would urge everyone to find new jobs ASAP.

MediaNews is the largest employer in the area, and Long Beach is home to many of our members. Getting a better job means either moving far away, or getting out of the industry. Rather than encourage people to run away and give up on a town and a job, our members choose to fight for something that's important to them.

Anonymous said...

If MediaNews ever was the largest employer in the area (a dubious claim), it's done a lot to close the gap with whoever was second.

Sorry . . . the fight was lost a long time ago. This settlement is a treaty signed by an organization - the Guild - that has been thoroughly beaten.

This was a classic stalling exercise by the company. The company waited until it was finished gutting the PT before giving in. I'm not sure how this can be seen in any other way.

The contract does not protect the copy editors who have been outsourced to Torrance (and now West Covina). It does not provide solace for the many who lost jobs during the long negotiation. It DOES protect the few remaining reporters and photogs in Long Beach. Congratulations on the reprieve. It will give you all time to grab a lifeboat.

This contract would have been great a year ago. Now it's just a punch in the gut, akin to coming up with the rent money AFTER being evicted and put out on the street.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the LANG wide memo from Janiga that they cannot gaurantee no layoffs in the future.... all of sudden the PT is the golden child of media news.... cmon people get real.... stall stall stall... so what happens when Singleton files for bankruptcy

Len Cutler said...

If MediaNews ever was the largest employer in the area (a dubious claim), it's done a lot to close the gap with whoever was second.

Sorry...the largest NEWSPAPER employer. I didn't think anyone would infer that the Press-Telegram was larger than Boeing or Con-Ed, but I apologize if that was unclear. And yes, they've done quite a bit to narrow the margins down. Unfortunately however, there are still few alternatives in Southern California.

Sorry . . . the fight was lost a long time ago. This settlement is a treaty signed by an organization - the Guild - that has been thoroughly beaten.

They're still here, and still fighting. And our members supported this proposal.

This was a classic stalling exercise by the company. The company waited until it was finished gutting the PT before giving in. I'm not sure how this can be seen in any other way.

You're making a lot of assumptions that can't be proven or refuted. How do you verify the company was "finished gutting" the P-T? How do you verify that they didn't have plans to lay off any other employees? Especially in light of the fact they've acknowledged looking at the budget and planning things on a week-by-week basis. So essentially you're arguing that you know more about the company's plans and finances than they do.


The contract does not protect the copy editors who have been outsourced to Torrance (and now West Covina). It does not provide solace for the many who lost jobs during the long negotiation. It DOES protect the few remaining reporters and photogs in Long Beach. Congratulations on the reprieve. It will give you all time to grab a lifeboat.

The Press-Telegram contract only affects employees of the Press-Telegram, yes.

This contract would have been great a year ago. Now it's just a punch in the gut, akin to coming up with the rent money AFTER being evicted and put out on the street.

The employees in Long Beach don't seem to feel that way.

Anonymous said...

This contract would have been great a year ago. Now it's just a punch in the gut, akin to coming up with the rent money AFTER being evicted and put out on the street.

The employees in Long Beach don't seem to feel that way.

The former employees of the Press-Telegram definitely feel as if they have been punched in the gut and left to bleed in the alley.

Anonymous said...

Speak for yourself. I don't feel that way, because the union didn't lay me off. That was MediaNews.

Anonymous said...

No layoffs? Sure, what the hell....step back and take a look at the big picture...

You've been had. The company's been firing dozens of people, now, when they are all done with it they agree to no more layoffs...tell that to colleagues who were fired as recenly as a week ago...


Jeez...this is small potatoes...

Anonymous said...

Congrats guys, you earned it.
Of course it's gonna be much cheaper for the company now since there are so few members left to give a raise to. But that's how 'ol lean Dean operates.
I can't help but wonder if the board ruling against the company didn't help grease those wheels a little too. Either way it's about time.

Anonymous said...

"colleagues who were fired as recently as a week ago.."

Just to clarify: they were LAID OFF,
NOT fired.
Fired implies "just cause", these people weren't let go for "just cause" they were just screwed.

(To anyone who doesn't think there's a difference, the unemployment office will be glad to explain it to you.)

Anonymous said...

I have a question. Are we doing the vote at the meeting, or by mail? I'm hearing different stories about what to do?

Len Cutler said...

I have a question. Are we doing the vote at the meeting, or by mail? I'm hearing different stories about what to do?

Sorry if there's been any confustion. The vote to ratify the proposed contract is scheduled for the following dates and locations:

Motz Station - 6:00 AM - 7:30 AM Tuesday January 20

Signal Parkway Station - 8:00 AM - 9:30 AM Tuesday January 20

300 Oceangate - 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM Tuesday January 20 - 15th floor

There will be no mailed ballots, so you'll have to vote in person if you want to approve this contract. We're asking members to please take the time to come out and participate.

Thanks, and we'll see you there!

Anonymous said...

This is great it buys you some time.
Look this is a wake-up call for you all, stop concentrating on your facebook pages ! and work on your resume. Consolidation is here and is happening up north and will continue down here. Dean Singleton is going to be in town next week and it's not gonna be pretty.

Anonymous said...

"so what happens when Singleton files for bankruptcy"


The Tribune's debtholders don't want to run a paper, they want money. Hearst is different.
They will never let MediaNews file for bankruptcy, when they can just seize some of the properties.

There won't be any Chapter 11 filings by Dean, guaranteed.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to those who get to hang onto their jobs. But what a hollow victory considering the paper already was gutted and "merged" with the Daily Breeze. I worked for a bankrupt catalog store that was better to its employees than MediaNews. You've bought some time ... use it to polish your resumes, or pray that Singleton sells the publication to someone with a soul.

Anonymous said...

It's NOT a hollow victory.

The workers are celebrating.

The Union said so.

Anonymous said...

The only people I'm praying for is the Breeze. $50,000 from you city government to help with the move ? That's chump change, Dean Singleton uses that when he flies in his Jet from Denver to LA.

Pray for the editors

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you guys got your contract but I leave you with this thought.

Your one-year moratorium on layoffs (if Dean ever honors that) means the people in the other newsrooms will bear the brunt of the next round of layoffs. And unlike the PT, they don't have a union.