April 2011: Executive Committee minutes

President Henry Davis called the meeting to order at 5:37 p.m, April 12, 2011 at One News Plaza, second-floor meeting room.

New business

Vice President/Grievances Phil Fairbanks explained The News was looking to promote Guild members and seeking Guild agreement to that end; this is something the Guild has done in the past and was last done with Brian Connolly’s promotion to online editor.

Motion/Second/Carried Fairbanks/Tan to pass a resolution that Melinda Miller, Geoff Nason and Lisa Wilson be promoted to features editor, online editor and executive sports editor for six months with certain conditions: all three remain members of the guild; at any time they can revert back to their former position; and at the end of six months, if they choose to go back to their former position, they will not incur any loss of seniority, benefits or pay.

Treasurer Kim Leiser is looking into software that will enable her to access the financial information the Guild keeps on its computer at the Guild office from her home. It would free her up to get work done at home instead of traveling downtown to the Guild office and having to find care for her children. Originally she thought she would be asking for approval for $100 per year for software but will try using a free version first and will report back next meeting.

Discussion of the company’s request to extend Scott Zasowski’s temporary district manager position by six months; Zasowski is filling in for Paul Bovi, who is out on extended sick leave (more than a year). This is the second extension the Guild has considered.

Part-time district manager Kevin Zielinski and Executive Committee members Pat Gormley, Dick Fay and Brian Long discussed possibly bringing bought-out district managers back via the recall list, but Tammy Turnbull explained that didn’t apply because this is a temporary position.

Long requested that the extension be non-precedent setting and Fairbanks said the Guild could ask for that.

Fairbanks/Davis M/S/C to extend temporary district manager Scott Zasowski for six months or until Paul Bovi returns from his extended sick leave.

Fay stressed that “we have to come up with a plan” to best get former full-time DMs work that becomes available.

Committee reports

Vice President/Mobilization Sandy Tan reported on a mobilization training session that she called “fantastic” and “very energizing.” Fairbanks and Davis discussed a history of past mobilization efforts and there was some significant brainstorming. Tan said there would be another training session.

Tan requested that executive members from ABC and the DMs try to find a representative to serve on the mobilization committee and let her know; right now there are no representatives from those groups.

Tan did an overview of the Guild surveys that were distributed to membership in order to learn what members’ thoughts were entering negotiations.

Job security and health care were in the overwhelming lead as Guild members’ concerns.

Finance Committee had nothing to report.

The Grievance Committee report, from Fairbanks, was that the Guild is working on a grievance regarding holiday pay in circulation; it is also working on a grievance regarding vacation in ABC.

New business (cont.)

Henry Davis discussed bargaining, including the Guild’s Bargaining Committee’s recommendation to propose an extension of the current contract.

Davis said it is an attempt to be helpful and proactive, and one in which the benefits would include avoiding a management-labor fight at a critical time in our industry and our newspaper.

“With the industry in turmoil, we believe that we’re a lot better off trying to improve the products and services we offer. … Nothing can be gained by long labor dispute. … We are also undergoing major changes in the newsroom, including the leadership. It’s a time to be focused inside the newsroom, instead of spending time on fight.”

Davis on the health care clause in the current contract, in which employees would take on 5 percent of health care costs in the event of the current contract expiring: “We feel this is terribly unfair. If you look at the numbers, before the end of the decade, most of an employees’ take home pay will go to health insurance — and that’s if health care premiums are better. We don’t feel that’s it’s right that people would be spending that much.

“It also speaks to our sense of professional identity. What kind of place do we work in? How are we going to keep people, or attract talented people to our newspaper, by not offering people more in pay than the poverty level?”

Davis said he expects bargaining to take place no later than early May.

Davis/Clark M/S/C to approve the proposal by the bargaining team that the Guild offer the company a proposal to extend the current contract by two years with small salary increases, which the Guild would consider taking in lump sums, and the Guild will work cooperatively to reduce health care premiums — as it has consistently done through the years — and work cooperatively to fashion separation agreements with the longest-tenured editorial members.

The letter will be presented to management Thursday; the Guild is giving management until Monday for a response.

New member: Vincent Sherry (editorial).

Gee/Davis M/S/C to adjourn at 6:35 p.m.

Attendance: President Henry Davis, Vice President Phil Fairbanks, Vice President Sandy Tan, Secretary Keith McShea, Treasurer Kim Leiser, ABC Chief Steward Felice McMillion, Classified Chief Steward Beverly Gwiewecki, District Manager Chief Steward Dick Fay, Editorial/Clerks Chief Steward Susan Kelley, Editorial/Nightside Chief Steward Geoff Nason, editorial delegates Aaron Besecker and Denise Gee, inside circulation delegate Tricia Clark, district manager delegates Pat Gormley and Brian Long, at-large delegate Tammy Turnbull, district managers Scott Zasowski and Kevin Zielinski.