Local Meeting Minutes February 2021

Executive Officer Kim Leiser called the meeting to order at 12:05 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15, 2021 via Zoom.

Mobilization Committee Report

Vice President for Communication and Mobilization Rachel Lenzi said the Guild would be rolling out its mobilization campaign in coordination with the start of bargaining. There would be a Twitter campaign including pinned tweets, “something that is visible and shows our solidarity.” There will be weekly or biweekly mobilization activities focusing on members displaying buttons, magnets, window clings, etc. via selfie photos.

Grievance Committee Report 

Leiser said there are three active grievances: sports clerk work being done outside the unit; inside circulation work being done outside the unit; and a grievance filed over sponsored content. 

The sponsored content grievance was filed for the second time; the first time for violating contract rules over labeling, which was rejected by The News; the second time for violating the contract’s journalistic standards clause, which was also rejected by The News. 

President Sandy Tan arrived and detailed the proposals by Lee Enterprises/The News. 

“Their proposals really do amount to the biggest assault on our contract since anyone working here can remember,” 

Tan went over the numerous proposals. 

“I wish I could tell you this would be easy bargaining, but obviously based on these proposals, it will not be. That was a lot. We have our own set of proposals that we will be proposing.”

A question and answer was held on The News’ proposals. Members asked about how our contract compares to other Lee contracts; the bargaining timeline; other Lee papers’ outsourcing situations; if The News realizes how outsourcing design work would affect the nightly workflow in terms of flexibility;     

Leiser said the bargaining team could not go over The Guild’s many own proposals because The Guild has not yet made them during bargaining. 

Tan said district manager and executive committee member Joan Portman has joined the bargaining team as there are very specific DM issues brought up by company. 

The next bargaining meeting will be next Thursday, Tan said. 

A question was posed about the company’s pension proposal and the timeline for the discussion of that during bargaining.  

Tan turned to mobilization. “Just because they are introducing this tough set of proposals doesn’t mean that we don’t have the power to fight back.”

Tan put out a call for Guild members to join the Mobilization Committee. 

Approximately 25-30 members were in attendance on the Zoom call. 

Further questions was posed regarding the district manager proposals and the pension proposal.  

The meeting was adjourned at 12:57 p.m. 

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Another general meeting was held via Zoom at 5:30 p.m. at which many of the same topics were discussed. 

There were approximately 30 total Guild members on the Zoom call. 

Members mentioned two more incidents of freelance digital stories that Guild members construed as being traditional core coverage performed by Guild members. 

After the company’s proposals were explained, members asked questions regarding Lee’s end game; about proposals that have yet to be fully explained by management (which are regarding outsourcing of page design work, print desk work, inside circulation work and accounting work); management’s claims behind their pension proposal; 

Tan said the opening proposals did not include anything in the way of health care or wages.  

“They know that we have to put a contract before members that our memberships will support,” Tan said. 

“We are a really, really strong union,” Tan said. “That’s why we have near-model contract language, that’s because we have been super, super unified.”

Members asked questions regarding Lee consolidating work and if more work could be transferred to The News; and about how The Guild’s contract stacks up against other Lee paper contracts.