MEDIATOR CALLED IN
October 23, 2006
The Guild Monday asked for a federal mediator to help reach a settlement with the Company on a new contract. The action means that the government will provide a neutral party to narrow the issues that the Guild and the Company remain at odds over.
The mediator cannot force either side to accept a proposal. His value is to lend an objective hand to a process that now has spanned 11 meetings without much progress.
The mediator contacted the Company Monday afternoon and is expected to set up meetings with both sides.On Monday, the Guild also presented its response to the Company’s list of proposals from Friday. On the pension item, the Guild told the Company it has been advised by its lawyers that the proposal to freeze the pension and take over its funds is “illegal” and would constitute a violation of the fiduciary responsibilities of the Guild’s pension trustees. In another matter, the Guild gave the Company a counterproposal on sick leave that still protects payment from the first day of illness or accident at 100 percent of pay, but agreed to limit the amount of time to 26 weeks — down from the current 40 weeks.
The Guild rejected the Company’s demand that it give up a contractual right to base layoffs on seniority.
It made a proposal calling for a bump up in pay for journalists working in New Media, such as blogging, podcasting and appearing on television. The Guild said it is willing to wait two years before the increase would go into effect to give the Company time to build up its Web presence and other alternative media offerings.
The Guild told the Company that its proposal to combine the Daily News and Inquirer editorial departments into a “single common enterprise” is vague and clearly not well thought out.
With the Guild’s contract with the Company expiring Oct. 31, we will hold a general membership meeting Thursday night. Members will be asked to authorize the bargaining committee to take all means necessary to gain a new contract, up to and including a strike. The time and location of that meeting will be announced shortly. All members in good standing should plan to attend.
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