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Christmas Comes Early for Children of FairPoint Strikers

Image from NH1 Facebook http://on.fb.me/1r8CXDZ

Fairness at Fairpoint Banner

 More than 1,000 toys and gift cards donated to children of FairPoint strikers are being distributed in Portsmouth today

 Public support for strikers is surging; in addition to toy drive, strike relief fund has received nearly $200,000 in donations

 With strike entering its tenth week, FairPoint families say they have the support to go One Day Longer, One Day Stronger

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Santa Claus is coming early for the children of striking workers at FairPoint Communications. More than 1,000 toys and gift cards donated to a union toy drive are being distributed today at the CWA union hall in Portsmouth.

The overwhelming response to the online toy drive marks the latest surge in support for the FairPoint strikers. In addition to the toy drive, the relief fund for the workers — who belong to the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) — has received nearly $200,000 in donations since the strike began on October 17.

“This incredible outpouring of support is going to make the holidays a whole lot happier for our families,” said Don Trementozzi, president of CWA Local 1400, which sponsored the toy drive. “Two months ago, we took a stand against corporate greed. And now, to see so many people standing up for us — and especially our kids — it gives you the strength to go one day longer and one stronger.”

The toys will be distributed to the children of strikers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, the three states served by the FairPoint workers.

The workers have been on strike since October 17. They began negotiations for a new contract in April, and from the outset FairPoint executives pressed for $700 million in deep and damaging cuts. The workers have offered more than $200 million in cost-saving compromises, but FairPoint has refused to modify its initial demand for cuts.

In August, the company walked away from bargaining and imposed the terms and conditions of its offer. Those terms slash benefits for current workers, impose deep pay cuts on new employees and promote the outsourcing of good jobs to poorly paid and unqualified contractors.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T-9 includes local unions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and represents nearly 1,700 employees at FairPoint Communications. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 represents nearly 300 FairPoint employees in the three states. For more information, visit www.FairnessAtFairpoint.com.

Help Save Christmas For The Children Of Striking FairPoint Workers

Fairpoint Strikers

Image from CWA 1400

When the IBEW and CWA workers said they were about to go on strike against FairPoint communications, I knew they were in for a long fight. The decision to walk is not an easy one. Workers weigh the decision to walk against their personal financial situation. How long can we afford to go without pay?

A strike can be especially hard on the children of the striking workers. Some older children understand the reasoning behind the strike, others just know that mommy or daddy are not getting paid right now.

Many workers have already begun to inform their children that Christmas is going to be very, very small this year. Buying gifts falls way down on the list of priorities when you are on strike. Just keeping the roof over your head and the food in the fridge become serious issues.

This is where you and I can help save Christmas for hundreds of children.

CWA 1400 has compiled a wish list of gifts on Amazon for the children of CWA 1400 members who are currently on strike.   There are hundreds of items to choose from, and every gift will bring a smile to child’s face this Christmas.

After you purchase the gift through Amazon, have it shipped directly to the CWA Hall at:

CWA Local 1400
Christmas Gifts
155 West Rd
Portsmouth, NH 03801

Help make the holiday season bright by buying a few items for the children of these striking workers.

No gift is to big or to small, and every gift is special. Help to keep the magic of Christmas alive by spending a few dollars buying gifts for children who otherwise won’t be getting anything this year.

How To Help The 1,700 IBEW FairPoint Strikers

IBEW 2320 (NH), IBEW 2327 (ME), and IBEW 2326 (VT) represent over 1,700 workers who are also out on strike against FairPoint. Support for their members comes directly from the union and from the generous donations to their IBEW-CWA Strike Fund.

Click Here to make a donation to the IBEW-CWA Strike Fund. 

Many people have generously supported the strike fund, and we thank you, but I am still going to ask you to make another donation.  These funds are being used to help the families of FairPoint strikers this holiday season.  (For FairPoint IBEW members, contact your local picket captains or you local hall directly for assistance with gifts this Christmas.)

Can you help by skipping that lunch out tomorrow and make a $10 donation to the IBEW-CWA strike fund?

Click Here to make a donation to the IBEW-CWA Strike Fund.

For local New Englanders there are even more ways to help.

If you live near one of the many strike lines, please stop by and show your support. Hold a sign for a while. Bring a box of Joe or a couple of Pizzas to show your support as they stand out in the cold.

The IBEW and CWA are also asking for people to drop off gift cards to local grocery stores and gas stations.

This holiday season dig deep and give a little extra to our brothers and sisters standing up for their rights against a greedy corporation who would rather outsource their jobs, than settle their contract disputes.


Direct link to Amazon Wish List:

Link to IBEW-CWA Strike Fund: http://www.gofundme.com/IBEW-CWA-Strike-Relief


In Midst of FairPoint Strike, Unnamed Company Luring Telecom Workers to New England with $300,000 Offer

Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 1.35.41 PM

 In “confidential” job posting on Monster.com, unidentified company offering telecom workers $5,000-$6,000 a week to come to New England

Job ad appears more than a month into strike in which FairPoint has struggled to provide service with unqualified contractors

The ad offers a wage that’s more than three times the average salary of striking FairPoint workers

An unidentified company is advertising for telecom workers and offering to pay them more than $300,000 a year to come work in northern New England. Many wonder if the unnamed company is FairPoint, the telecommunications firm that has struggled to maintain service during a strike now in its 39th day.

“FairPoint has been saying we make too much money, but now it looks like they’re offering people more than three times what we make,” said Peter McLaughlin, chair of System Council T-9 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. “Instead of settling a fair deal with its skilled workers, FairPoint is squandering tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars on replacement workers who can’t do our jobs.”

Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 1.35.41 PM

Screen shot from MONSTER.COM job listing

In a “confidential” posting on Monster.com, the unidentified company lists the job location as “Merrimack, NH.” The striking workers of FairPoint provide service in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont. The full ad can be seen here: http://tinyurl.com/n7v43zg

In statements to the media, FairPoint has complained about the salaries of its skilled union workers. FairPoint claims that those workers make an average salary of $82,000 a year. The $5,000 to 6,000 a week salary being offered in the Monster.com ad would amount to annual pay of up to $312,000 a year.

The ad from the unidentified company calls for workers who “are comfortable working at customer premise locations including large banks, hospitals, cellular towers, etc. ” FairPoint maintains service at all those locations.

“It looks like FairPoint is finally learning the real value of its experienced workforce,” said Don Trementozzi, president of Communication Workers of America Local 1400. “Now that they know what we’re worth, it’s time for them to stop wasting money on unqualified workers from out of state and reach a fair deal for New England.”

IN OTHER FAIRPOINT STRIKE NEWS: FairPoint workers will continue their wave of actions for a fair deal today in Washington, D.C. Dozens of demonstrators will hold another protest against the company’s biggest shareholder, Angelo, Gordon & Co.

An official from the Wall Street hedge fund, which owns more than 20 percent of FairPoint stock, will be making a presentation at the National Multifamily Conference and Expo at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Washingon. FairPoint workers and their allies will be on the street outside ensuring that the public is fully aware of Angelo, Gordon’s role in the attack on northern New England workers.

Angelo, Gordon manages billions of dollars in assets for public pension funds, but it has refused to publicly intervene as FairPoint has moved to gut the pensions and benefits of its employees.


WHEN: Monday, Nov. 25, 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.

WHERE: JW Marriott Hotel, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T-9 includes local unions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and represents nearly 1,700 employees at FairPoint Communications. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 represents nearly 300 FairPoint employees in the three states. For more information, visit www.FairnessAtFairpoint.com.

Union Picket Lines Stay Strong as FairPoint Stock Price Tumbles

IBEW Strikers from Brunswick Maine. (Image Fairness at Fairpoint Facebook)


IBEW Strikers from Brunswick Maine. (Image Fairness at Fairpoint Facebook)

IBEW Strikers from Brunswick Maine. (Image Fairness at Fairpoint Facebook)

FairPoint stock plunged more than 10% at the end of last week after the company acknowledged strike’s adverse effect in its latest earnings report 

 One day before drop, key financial analyst cited strikers’ continuing strength, warning of “significant negative impact” from “unsettled labor conditions”

FairPoint strikers maintained momentum Saturday with major rally that highlighted N.C.-based company’s attack on good New England jobs

The ongoing strike at FairPoint Communications appears to be spooking investors and taking a toll on the company’s share price. FairPoint’s stock dropped more than 10 percent on Thursday and Friday. (It had dropped another 1.46 percent as of 11:15 a.m. Monday.)

The company’s stock tumbled after FairPoint acknowledged the strike’s adverse impact in its weaker than expected third quarter earnings report last Wednesday. That same day a key financial analyst reported that even after three weeks strikers were not crossing the picket line.

“Our members are not backing down from this fight,” said Peter McLaughlin, chair of System Council T-9 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). “People are not crossing the line because we know the future of good jobs for every worker in New England is at stake.”

The proposals FairPoint has imposed would slash the pay of most new employees by more than 20 percent, undermine the benefits of current workers and eliminate health benefits for retirees who have given the company decades of service.

FairPoint cut off health care coverage for striking workers on Oct. 31. Some analysts predicted that the health care cut-off might cause workers to waver and end the strike.

But on Wednesday, Nov. 5, the same day FairPoint released its earnings report, financial analyst Barry Sine from Drexel Hamilton reported that “only a handful” of workers had crossed the line, and that there had been a “significant negative impact” from “the unsettled labor conditions.” Notably, Sine had earlier been one of the analysts predicting strikers might return to work when FairPoint terminated their health coverage.

“Our members saw this attack coming a long way off, so we were prepared for it,” said Don Trementozzi, president of CWA Local 1400. “FairPoint CEO Paul H. Sunu was a top official at Hawaiian Telcom when they launched a similar attack on their workers, so we’ve seen this playbook. We’ve been putting away money and bracing ourselves for this for more than a year.”

Roughly 500 striking FairPoint workers and supporters from across the Northeast rallied in Portland’s Monument Square on Saturday. Speakers at the rally recounted the troubled negotiations that led to the strike, which began on Oct. 17. During five months of bargaining that began in April, the North Carolina-based company made no substantive compromises. In August, FairPoint officials abruptly walked away from the table and imposed terms and conditions that include $700 million in savage cuts.

“This North Carolina company has imposed pay and benefit cuts that would turn good middle-class jobs into low-wage jobs with bare-bones benefits,” said Glenn Brackett, business manager of New Hampshire’s IBEW Local 2320. “This contract would also let FairPoint outsource good New England jobs to unqualified contractors from out of state and overseas.”

“All throughout these talks we’ve tried to find common ground with the company,” said Mike Spillane, business manager of IBEW Local 2326 in Vermont. “But they’ve never moved off their demands that would destroy good jobs at FairPoint. We’ve made $200 million in compromises, including a significant sharing of health care costs. It’s time for them to come back to the table with a constructive offer.”

FairPoint and union negotiators will reconvene in Boston on Nov. 18 at a meeting arranged by a federal mediator.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T-9 includes local unions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and represents nearly 1,700 employees at FairPoint Communications. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 represents nearly 300 FairPoint employees in the three states. For more information, visit www.FairnessAtFairpoint.com.

FairPoint Strike Becoming Major Election Issue in Northern New England on Campaign’s Final Weekend

Fairness at Fairpoint Vigil

Fairness at Fairpoint Vigil

Fight for good jobs by 2,000 FairPoint workers is impacting races in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont

With FairPoint poised to cut off workers’ health coverage on Halloween, the threat to region’s middle-class is a frightening reality pols can’t ignore

MANCHESTER, N.H.—In the final weekend before Tuesday’s election, the strike at FairPoint Communications has become a major issue in races across northern New England. The two-week-old strike by nearly 2,000 union workers has drawn candidates to the picket lines in all three states and factored in New Hampshire’s final gubernatorial debate.

“We’re not looking to get rich, we’re just looking to sustain our families.  We offered the company a compromise that would save them millions in health care costs, but they refused. We’ve got to stand up for our families and for good jobs.”

The dispute at FairPoint is set to get even more intense on Halloween, as the company has announced it will cut off striking workers’ health care coverage at midnight. With the strike—and the election campaign—heating up, following is an overview of the role the strike has played in the region’s races:

New Hampshire – In the Granite State debate on Wednesday, both gubernatorial candidates were asked about their stance on the FairPoint strike. Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan offered strong support for the strikers, saying “these are workers who for the last three years have been helping FairPoint recover from bankruptcy, working incredibly hard to get the company back on its feet.”

Hassan went on to say, “I’ll continue to urge this North Carolina company to think about New Hampshire-specific solutions and the New Hampshire workers who are really trying to come to the table and work with the company.”

Republican challenger Walt Havenstein initially hedged his response to the FairPoint question, saying “both sides are right.” But Havenstein went on to say of the workers that he “respected their right to negotiate.”

Vermont – On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch issued a letter to FairPoint CEO Paul H. Sunu noting that he’d “visited with those walking the picket line in Burlington” and heard their “passionate commitment to customer service.” Welch said, “I strongly urge you to return to the bargaining table in good faith and find common ground with the working men and women of your company.”

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, though not up for re-election, held a press conference with FairPoint strikers on Wednesday and criticized the telecom firm for “putting the interests of the multi-billion dollar hedge fund companies who own the company ahead of its workers and customers.”

MaineU.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree has made multiple visits to FairPoint picket lines, as have Democratic candidate for governor Mike Michaud, Senate candidate Shenna Bellows, and congressional candidate Emily Cain.

The FairPoint workers—members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T9 and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400—have been encouraged by the high profile attention the strike has received.

“It’s great to see that we’ve got so many allies in this fight,” said Todd Bedard, a FairPoint service technician in New Hampshire and a member of IBEW Local 2320. “The company’s move to cut off our health care coverage shows that they’re out to gut good jobs in northern New England. But we’ve been preparing for this fight, so we’ve got our money saved and our friends standing with us, so we’re not going away.”

“The stakes in this strike are becoming very clear,” said Nicole Johnston, a FairPoint customer service representative in Bangor, Maine, and a member of CWA Local 1400. “If a telecom company can cut benefits to the bone, then no middle-class worker is safe. I grew up in a phone company family, so these were the benefits that gave us a good life. But what am I going to do for my daughters if our health care goes away?”

“We’re not looking to get rich, we’re just looking to sustain our families,” said Mike Gauthier, a FairPoint service technician in Brattleboro, Vt., and a member of IBEW Local 2326. “We offered the company a compromise that would save them millions in health care costs, but they refused. We’ve got to stand up for our families and for good jobs.”

Contract talks at FairPoint began on April 25 when the company came to the table with proposals that would cost workers more than $700 million. The company sought to freeze pensions, dramatically raise health care costs, cut retiree health care, and institute a two-tier wage system that would pay new hires as little as minimum wage. In addition, the company sought to outsource union members’ work to out-of-state and foreign contractors.

Though the workers offered compromises worth more than $200 million in savings for the company, the company rejected every significant union proposal. The company declared an impasse on August 27 and imposed the terms and conditions of their proposals on the workers. The unions have charged the company with violating federal labor law and are seeking injunctive relief from the National Labor Relations Board.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T9 includes local unions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and represents nearly 1,700 employees at FairPoint Communications. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 represents nearly 300 FairPoint employees in the three states. For more information, visit www.FairnessAtFairpoint.com.

CWA-IBEW Fairpoint Workers Are Ready To Strike When The Time Comes


Despite working past contract expiration,
FairPoint employees can still strike at will

Union leaders say company still refusing to compromise on any proposal

On Saturday night, just before the midnight expiration of contracts covering nearly 2,000 FairPoint workers across Northern New England, leaders of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T9 and Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 announced that their members would continue working and not go on strike. According to union leaders, negotiations will continue and employees will be covered by most provisions of the expired contracts. However, the unions can now call a strike or the company could lock workers out at any time without prior notice.

Union leaders and management have been in bargaining over a new contract since April, and negotiations have been tense from the start. In the last two weeks, the company has resorted to increasingly aggressive tactics meant to intimidate workers. Union leaders say this demonstrates management’s lack of commitment to reaching a fair agreement. In addition to posting new “no trespassing” signs and spray-painting strike lines on the pavement at many company locations, management went as far as housing strike-breaking replacement workers at the same hotel where bargaining is taking place—an open and hostile attempt to intimidate union leaders.

“They are trying to bully us into submitting to their demands,” said Glenn Brackett, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2320 in Manchester, NH. “But we will not be bullied, and we’ll continue fighting for our families and our communities as long as we have to.”

Union negotiators have put forward several proposals that would save the company over $180 million. The company has rejected these and every other cost-saving proposal that the unions have made.

Union leaders say they are deeply concerned about management’s demand to be able to replace local, well-trained workers with low-wage, out-of-state contractors. “Most of the current employees have been working for the phone company for decades and we know our customers and our systems better than any outside contractor ever will,” said Peter McLaughlin, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2327 in Augusta, Maine. “Customers will suffer if the company gets its way. But management cares more about cutting costs and giving that money to their hedge fund owners than in investing in our communities.”

“Our unions have shown a willingness to compromise from the start,” said Don Trementozzi, President of CWA Local 1400. “But it looks to us like the company’s strategy from the beginning has been to lock out workers so they can replace them with out-of-town contractors. It’s a blatant attempt to gut good jobs in this region. Our members are unified and have the support of many allies and community members. We will not stand by and let this corporation and its Wall Street cronies get away with it.”

FairPoint Strike On Hold As Talks Continue — From InZane Times

Image by Arnie Alpert


Image by Arnie Alpert

Image by Arnie Alpert

A strike by Fairpoint workers is still possible but negotiations have not ended, a union spokesperson announced an hour short of the strike deadline this evening.  “Make no mistake, this fight is not

Image by Arnie Alpert

Image by Arnie Alpert

over,” Glenn Brackett of the IBEWtold a hundred or so union members and allies outside Fairpoint’s downtown Manchester office at 11 pm. “We will continue to mobilize until we get a contract that’s fair.”

Brackett said workers should return to work but that a strike could be called at any time.  Terms and conditions of the expired contract will remain in effect while negotiations continue.

“The company has been very unresponsive to many of the major proposals we have made,” Bracket said, adding that the company’s attitude has been dismissive and antagonistic.  


Image by Arnie Alpert

Image by Arnie Alpert

He explained that the company had turned down a union proposal that would have saved the company millions of dollars.  

Fairpoint workers are represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Communications Workers of America.




Long Island Railroad Labor Dispute Could Leave Thousands Stranded

SMART Protest
SMART Protest

June 21 Rally to end the LIRR Strike.  Image from SMART Facebook

The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) members who keep the Long Island Railroad running are about to walk off the job in strike.  The SMART members have been in a bitter labor dispute for months with the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) over the MTA’s demand for benefit cuts and mandatory concessions.

“MTA management has rejected recommendations from two Presidential Emergency Boards that would end the dispute,” wrote Paul Pimentel, communication representative for SMART in an email to the NH Labor News. “Union members ask for nothing more than what both these neutral federal boards have already recommended.  “Rejecting the findings of a Presidential Emergency Board would be unprecedented and would create uncertainty for future events that involve similar mediation efforts.”

Workers have agreed that July 20th with be the day that the strike will begin, if MTA does not work with SMART to resolve their dispute.  A work stoppage would cripple Long Island, stopping millions of people from getting to work, and tourists from visiting the luxurious Long Island beaches.

The MTA boasts that over 2 billion people ride the MTA every single year.  How many of those people are coming from or going to Long Island?

“SMART and its partner unions have no interest in a work stoppage that would hurt Long Island Rail Road riders and small businesses dependent on tourism during the crucial summer months,” wrote Pimentel.

This dispute could be solved with strong leadership from New York’s Governor Mario Cuomo.  Gov. Cuomo, who is pursuing a possible run for the Democratic nomination for President, has yet to get involved in this dispute.  Even after a group of Democratic and Republican State and Federal leaders sent a letter to Governor Cuomo and the MTA Chairman Prendergast to end this dispute before any harm comes to the people of Long Island.

What is Governor Cuomo waiting for? Does he really want to see thousands of people stranded as the trains stop moving?

Take a moment and tell Governor Cuomo to step up and show what a true leader is by ending this dispute before any work stoppage occurs.  Send him a letter by clicking here.


The “Fight For Fifteen” Spurs Protests Around The World

Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times

photoYesterday hundreds of workers across the country walked off the jobs in protest, demanding higher wages from their multi-billion dollar restaurant employers.

Workers from McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC and other restaurants participated in a national day of action calling for a $15 wage and the ability to form and join unions.

The USA Today posted a great article highlighting some of the events across the country.

“At the end of the day, there is more than enough money to pay these workers $15 an hour,” says Kendall Fells, 34, the leader of Fast Food Forward, who marched with the protesters in New York.”

McDonalds workers in Orlando were treated to a refreshing shower when the McDonalds management turned on their laws sprinklers.

In an ironic twist, McDonalds violated local water ordnances when they turned the sprinklers on the protesters.

(See an additional image on Instagram of what appears to be the manager turning on the sprinkler)

“Working families everywhere are inspired by the spirit and the courage of fast food workers who are striking today in over 150 cities,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.  “Every worker deserves fair wages and the right to form a union without retaliation because no one who works full time should struggle to support their family. That’s why the ‘Fight for Fifteen’ movement is growing bigger and protests are happening across America and six different continents. The message is clear: corporations should pay their employees fair wages and Congress should act so no one gets left behind. Only then will we have an economy that works for all working people.”

In a show of solidarity, workers around the world went of strike with US workers.

The USA Today reports:

“In Europe, Lorenz Keller, who works for the Swiss trade union Unia, said that union members were protesting at several McDonald’s stores in Zurich and planned actions in Geneva.

Banner-waving activists in New Zealand were the first to hit the streets on Thursday, at a McDonald’s in Auckland.

In the Philippines, young protesters held a singing and dancing flash mob inside a McDonald’s on Manila’s Quezon Avenue during the morning rush-hour.

In South Korea, activists gathered outside a McDonald’s in Seoul, including one protester dressed as Ronald McDonald.

In Japan, co-organizer Manabu Natori, who tried but failed to find a Ronald costume in time, was encouraged by the public response to the minimum-wage protest outside a downtown Tokyo McDonald’s.”

Fast Food Forward organized the worldwide walkout in conjunction with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).  After the protests SEIU President Mary Kay Henry released the following statement:

Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times

Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times

“The fast food worker movement is a story about hope. It gets bigger as each month goes by because a growing number of Americans are worried about finding jobs that pay enough to live on.

“Americans know that it’s wrong that so many families have no financial security, no matter how hard they work. 

“Americans know that inequality is destabilizing the economy. Communities are out of balance because of the falling wage floor.

“These workers are fighting for $15 per hour because that’s a wage that will allow them to cover their basic needs and help lift our entire economy. By putting more money into the pockets of workers in fast-growing service sector jobs, we can get our economy moving again and rebuild the middle class.

“The movement continues to gain support and these workers are determined to fight for a better life and to stick together in a union. We are all better off when people whose work makes their companies profitable share in the success their work creates.”

NH Union Leader’s Demands Lead Manchester Newspaper Guild To Launch A ‘Byline Strike’

The Newspaper Guild

The Newspaper GuildFighting back against “the worst contract proposal ever seen,” the Manchester Guild mobilization committee is launching a byline strike effective Wednesday. “We need to push back to get a better offer. To alert the publisher to our unity and strength, and to get the attention of the public, the local is asking all reporters and photographers to withhold their bylines and credit lines beginning with the editions of Wednesday, Feb. 5 (to coincide with bargaining), continuing through the editions of Saturday, Feb. 15.,” the committee says in an email to members.

Local officers subsequently described the contract proposal in more detail:

This is a “third” offer from the company, and takes giant steps back from the “Option 2″ we never even got to discuss.

Presented Jan. 22, the one-year “deal” would include:

An 18% pay cut, RETROACTIVE to Jan. 5, to be paid back in 10 equal installments, and subject to payroll taxes for a second time;

–A hike in insurance deductibles from $1,250 to $3,000 for single (non-union it’s $2,000) and from $2,500 to $6,000 family (non-union it’s $5,000);

Gutting of seniority language in event of layoff, giving publisher choice of who to lay off “in good faith” as to ability with no regard to seniority and elimination of the rehire list.

–This gem, which I’ll quote, and which seems to eliminate even lost time for local officials to defend the contract and our members…”Bargaining unit members shall not conduct union business during their assigned working hours without the express approval of the Publisher or his representative.”

The first option presented in September would have totally gutted our contract (and included the layoff and anti-union language). Members rejected that unanimously. Option 2 was to become the company’s only proposal as of Jan. 1. Bargaining dates on Jan. 2 and Jan. 21 were snowed out, so it never even made it to the table to be discussed as such. Then came this. It’s like we’re being punished for the weather.

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