Indy Guild Voting Today on New Contract With 10% Pay Cut

By: Joe Strupp The Indianapolis News Guild, which overwhelmingly rejected a contract offer from The Indianapolis Star in June that included a 12% pay cut, is voting today on another proposal that has a 10% pay cut and a two-year salary freeze.

In an e-mail to members, Guild President Tom Spalding said the offer is the "best deal" the union could get. "It isn't a great package, but it's the one that does the least amount of damage," he wrote.

The agreement, if ratified, would apply to about 170 Star employees, including reporters, photographers, librarians, copy editors, clerks, and some maintenance workers. It also allows more flexibility to the paper to assign "non-traditional" jobs to guild members, but keeps seniority rights in place in the event of layoffs.

The guild spent nearly 10 months in contract talks before reaching a tentative agreement on the two-year contract Aug. 7.

This follows the guild rejection of a previous offer June 30, which went down in a 97-9 vote. The latest deal came about after talks included a federal mediator who attended negotiating sessions Aug. 6 and 7.

Among the elements of the new contract proposal:

* Permanent pay cut of 10% beginning Aug. 30 for all
Guild-represented employees.

* A wage freeze for the term of the contract.

* No merit pay increases for Guild-represented employees for the term of the contract.

* New language to allow the paper flexibility to assign Guild members "traditional and non-traditional tasks" and requires the publisher to "be cognizant of and sensitive to its policy relating to ethics and conflicts of interest."

* In the event of layoffs, the company will consider seniority rights
first in regard to staff reductions. The Guild gives up the right to grieve or seek arbitration on individual layoffs, but it has the right to grieve and arbitrate if the company ignores seniority or fails to use the
criteria properly.


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