Friday, July 27, 2007

Guild fears it may be decertified

The East Bay Express's Robert Gammon, a former union official at the Alameda Newspaper Group, writes this morning that the planned merger of ANG's newsrooms with the Contra Costa Times might cause owner MediaNews to push for a decertification of the Guild at ANG. (Publisher John Armstrong described his consolidation plans in a memo posted here yesterday. Here's a link to a George Avalos story describing the consolidation.)

The merger would mix non-union employees at the Contra Costa Times with the unionized workers at the ANG papers, including the Oakland Tribune, San Mateo County Times, etc.

After the merger, if the combined news operation has more non-union than union members, the employees can circulate a petition calling for a decertification election of all employees in the bargaining unit. Gammon said Guild officials are counting heads.

Decertification means the Guild would no longer be the exclusive bargaining agent for employees, which would effectively end union representation.


Anonymous said...

You left out one important point. CC Times employees are paid better and have better benefits than their colleagues at ANG. The ANG workers are going to start comparing notes with their new colleagues and wonder why they're in a union.

Anonymous said...

CCT employees are paid better and have better benefits because they used to work for Knight Ridder. Now that they're controlled by Dean Singleton, you think those pay scales will stay the same? Think again. Salaries will be slashed, and new hires will be brought in at ANG pay rates.

MHerb said...

the cc times people are fools, they know singleton will cut their wages and a union is the only way to stop him ... this could backfire if cc times employees decide to join the guild in order to stop pay cuts

whip said...

It's simply UNION BUSTING! Singleton tries to bust the union every place he goes.

John said...

Having sat in on two meetings with Dean Singleton's Bay Area labor attorney earlier this year before I resigned as editor of the San Mateo County Times, I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that MNG's strategy here is to bust the union. For an accounting of those meetings, see

ANGcopyeditor said...

everyone--i mean everyone--at ANG is looking for new jobs. this union busting is really discouraging

inkstainedwretch said...

How is it "union busting" if the workers get to decide on decertification in an election with a secret ballot? The East Bay Express article, written by a former union organizer, failed to mention this important fact.

Other facts —

1. Singleton has had a year to cut salaries at the CC Times and hasn't. Yes, new hires are starting at lower salaries, but nobody has had their pay cut (at least I haven't heard about it).

2. The Guild has had several years to improve the pay of ANG workers and has failed.

3. ANG workers pay about 1% of their wages in union dues. Dumping the union would give them an immediate 1% raise. That's better than what the Guild has done for them some years.

4. Unions have made things worse for the CCTimes. After McClatchy acquired KR, it jettisoned all of its union papers. But it had a problem with the MN — it was so unattractive to buyers that McClatchy had to package it with other strong papers in order to sell it.

If it weren't for the MN's unions, the CC Times today would be part of McClatchy!

With a vote and a secret ballot, management can't force decertification on anyone. And the union can't continue forever if the employees don't want it.

Josh Richman said...

In response to inkstainedwretch:

1.) True, nobody's pay has been cut at the CCT - yet - but I think anyone you ask there would tell you the prognosis for future raises, even cost-of-living raises, is grim.

2.) The ANG contract, which expired this month, provided better than 3% raises per year, not counting any merit raises management deigned to give. Before we had a contract, some people had gone as long as a decade without any raise at all.

3.) We pay 1.659 percent dues; see #2, and consider the grievance arbitration process, layoff notice & severance, and other protections the contract granted as well.

As for decertification, one staffer's nascent effort was roundly rebuffed by his coworkers. Our dues-paying membership has surged in recent months as they've realized solidarity is the only way to stand up to the economic bullying for which this company has earned a reputation. And, yes, we intend to keep fighting.

Anonymous said...

could it be that singleton is holding off on the really devastating cuts at the CC Times until after this vote?