Slight from The Times prompts early exit by Guild negotiators
Well, that was short and sweet.
Two days after Times management said it wanted to “jump-start” negotiations, its team arrived at the table on Thursday morning and changed not a detail of its insulting wage proposal, offered not a dime more toward our pension and raised by just a few hairs its offer on health care.
As a result, the Guild negotiating team walked away from the session. We will return for the scheduled meeting next Wednesday at the Guild, which members are welcome to observe.
Bernie Plum, the Proskauer attorney who has represented Times management for nearly two decades, was careful to couch his latest non-offer in, well, petty terms. The New York Times offer today, he noted, is “proportional to the disappointing” offer the Guild made last time.
Thanks for that, Bernie.
Management negotiators raised the additional contribution they would make to our health care fund to $600,000 in 2014 and to $700,000 in 2015 from the $500,000 they proposed on Sept. 21. This is some slight, stumbling progress, but would leave the company’s contribution far behind that of most private employers its size. More to the point, that level of contribution would soon blow a hole in the hull of the jointly run fund that covers our medical claims.
A couple of points are worth reiterating: The Guild has made every move worth talking about in these negotiations. We did our research and took the painful step of offering a new pension plan that, while still good, represents a reduction from the current level of benefits. We recently took the additional painful step of offering to shear $500,000 a year off of what The Times now contributes to the plan to meet its ongoing obligations. And we lowered our wage demand for 2011 to 3.5 percent from 4 percent. (Management’s wage offer for 2011? Zero).
We embraced from Day One management’s proclaimed desire to achieve a single contract for newsroom and digital employees, and we’ve made sacrifices to achieve that goal.
As New York Guild President Bill O’Meara noted, there’s no point in negotiating against ourselves. If the Times ownership relishes its world class newspaper, it needs to treat its world-class employees, from journalists to photographers to paginators to copy editors to sales reps to security guards to web and video wizards, with respect.
We are very much ready to negotiate intensively. We understand that such a process will entail difficult give and take. But we will not negotiate against ourselves.