By: Mark Fitzgerald
Newsday’s union, having overwhelmingly rejected a proposed contract last weekend, has a new message for management: We won’t accept cuts demanded of no other New York City-area newspaper union.
In a statement released Tuesday about a meeting between Newsday management and the executive board of Graphic Communications Conference/ International Brotherhood of Teamsters (GCC/IBT) Local 406, the union said that “while it is true that other unions have made concessions recently at financially troubled papers, Newsday is located in the New York City metropolitan area where no newspaper has made such cuts.”
The union “will not give up everything in exchange for nothing,” the statement said.
Newsday management and the union tentatively agreed to meet early in February. Union negotiators will be led at all discussions by the national GCC/IBT president George Tedeschi, the union said.
“If Newsday is serious about resolving its financial problems, it should be willing to work in partnership with the union and not dictate company edicts,” Tedeschi said in a statement.
But a spokesperson for Newsday, Deidra Parrish Williams, said a partnership was exactly what the talks prior to the contract proposal had been.
“Despite union claims, the contract was not an edict, but an agreement reached in true partnership by both Newsday and the Union after several weeks of negotiations,” she said. “The goal of those negotiations was to preserve as many jobs as possible and to ensure that Newsday remains a strong and viable company. These are important matters that we must resolve immediately.”
On Sunday, members voted 473 to 10 to reject a proposed contract that lowered salaries by 10% to 15% depending on the job; lengthened the workweek to 40 hours from 35; reduced vacation time by a week; and cut mileage reimbursement for journalists on assignment by 20%. The union said changes in seniority and buyout provisions “appeared to make it easier for Newsday to cut jobs — not preserve them, as a Newsday spokeswoman suggested.”
“These, along with numerous other items, added up to nearly a 25-percent cut in the hourly wage for some employees,” the union added.
Local 406 represents newsroom employees, truck drivers, press operators, pre-press workers, platemakers and maintenance workers at the newspaper.