Baltimore Sun Workers Reject new contract p. 45

By: Kelvin Childs Employees at the Baltimore Sun rejected a management proposal for a new four-year contract.
Strictly speaking, members of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild (Local 35 of The Newspaper Guild) voted Dec. 29 not to decide on the Sun's offer. Guild representative Dick Ramsey says only about 20 of some 350 workers voted for the Sun's proposal. However, Sun public relations manager Carol A. Dreyfuss says that because it was a voice vote, it's difficult to specify what the total was.
The current three-year contract expires June 22, and bargaining is expected to begin in March. However, the Sun made an offer at the end of 1998 because "restructuring funds" from parent company Times Mirror were available only through Dec. 31, Dreyfuss says. Since the proposal was rejected, the paper's next offer will not include that money.
The Sun's proposals included an average $19 per week raise in each year of the agreement, a lump-sum payment of either four weeks' pay or $2,000, and a payment of up to $700,000 in the Guild pension plan.
Ramsey says the Guild objected to three parts of the proposal. One was language regarding contracting out and outsourcing, which he says would devastate entire departments at the paper. "Throughout December, we've been reading with horror at what Times Mirror has been doing with laying off, contracting out," Ramsey says. Dreyfuss says the language changes were meant to clarify the policy on outsourcing.
The second objection was to changes to the advertising sales force. Currently, an ad account worth $100,000 or more brought in by a commission-only sales representative must be turned over to a salaried sales rep. The Sun's proposal would have ended that practice.
Finally, the Guild disliked language giving management the ability to offer buyouts directly to employees without negotiating through the Guild. "We have a rich history with the Sun of buyouts, and we never found it onerous," Ramsey says.
Without commenting on the specifics of those points, Dreyfuss notes that the Sun and the Guild failed to agree on them.
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