Indy News Guild Approves New Contract With 10% Pay Cut

By: Joe Strupp The Indianapolis News Guild in a close vote Tuesday approved a new two-year contract with The Indianapolis Star that includes a 10% salary cut.

The new agreement, which Guild President Tom Spalding compared to "a gun at our head," includes a two-year wage freeze. It passed by a 56-45 vote.

"We really had no other option," Spalding told E&P. "This will hopefully save jobs, but people are very upset and we cannot blame them."

Star Publisher Michael Kane was not immediately available for comment.

The vote follows the union's rejection of a previous proposal in June that included a 12% pay cut. That contract went down in a 97-9 vote.

In an e-mail to members before Tuesday's vote, 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 affects about 187 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 on Aug. 7.

Among the elements of the new contract:

* Permanent pay cut of 10% beginning Aug. 30 for all
Guild-represented employees. Employees whose pay would drop below the federal minimum wage with a 10 percent pay cut will be reduced only to the federal minimum wage.

* 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 we do have the right to grieve and arbitrate if the company ignores seniority or fails to use the
criteria properly overall.


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