‘Memphis Commercial Appeal’ Guild Will Vote on ‘Unfavorable’ Contract Proposal

By: E&P Staff

Memphis Newspaper Guild members will vote next weekend on a proposed contract that would give employees their first raises in seven years but allow the newspaper the right to outsource any work and lay off employees without limitation, according to the union’s description.

Guild leadership is not making a recommendation on contract — but warns that a vote either way carries “serious consequences.”

“A yes’ vote gives the company the green light to start outsourcing work and firing the people to do it now, without limitations. We believe many people would lose their jobs,” local President Daniel Connolly said in a message to union members. “A ‘no’ vote means the company could declare impasse and implement its last proposal, including unlimited outsourcing. The union would then be at war with the company and all options would be on the table, including boycotts and other methods to inflict economic damage.”

Earlier this month, the Guild said it had hired the Washington firm gmmb to design ads for a campaign to pressure the Commercial Appeal to moderate its bargaining demands.

According to the union’s description, the contract includes a permanent pension freeze; a payment of two weeks salary over the normal severance pay that comes from an employee’s pension; pay raises of 4% in the first year, 3% in the second and 2% in the third. The “evergreen clause” that keeps contract terms in effect if bargaining continues past its expiration date will remain in the news contract.

“On balance, the package is unfavorable to workers,” Connolly wrote.

Connolly said that “it became clear in recent months that the company absolutely wanted the right to fire everyone and outsource everything. No amount of other concessions would sway them.” Newspaper management has consistently declined to comment on the negotiations publicly.

Last February the paper made what it called a “final offer” that included no scheduled wage increase and an end to the evergreen clause.

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