"We are concerned that Philadelphia Newspapers delay of bargaining and its failure to disclose its bargaining proposals are tactics designed to leave the Guild membership with no leverage in the event it submits a [bankruptcy] plan that includes contract concessions and that plan is accepted," a memo from Philadelphia Newspaper Guild leaders to its members Wednesday stated.
The guild is the only one of the 15 unions at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News that has not agreed to extend its current contract for 30 days beyond the Aug. 31 expiration date, according to Publisher Brian Tierney.
The newspapers' owner, Philadelphia Media Holdings, is in the midst of a bankruptcy that was filed in February. It is planning to submit a reorganization plan next week and had requested the unions extend contracts so that negotiations could be put off until after the reorganization is completed.
"We have 4,200 full-time and part-time employees, the guild represents about 510 people," Tierney told E&P. "We have agreements from all of the other unions to extend. Like a lot of publishers, I don't always understand the guild. But they're family and we love them and I am sure it will all work out."
The guild memo is below:
Dear Guild member,
As we advised you in our last bulletin, on Monday the Guild Executive Board informed Philadelphia Newspapers that its request for a 30-day-extension of our contract prior to any collective bargaining negotiations was unacceptable. Our refusal to extend the contract on the basis proposed by the company was based, in part, on the June 16 testimony in federal court of Richard Thayer, PN's Chief Financial Officer, in which he maintained the company would not engage in collective bargaining with any of its unions until its reorganization plan is submitted. The plan is scheduled to be filed on August 31, the same day our contract expires.
In a court filing last week, the company requested an additional 60 days to submit its plan. The company's obligation to bargain with us is independent of the bankruptcy.
On Monday, we renewed our request to immediately commence collective bargaining. The company did not respond. This morning we directed our attorneys to file an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board as a result of the Employer's refusal to bargain.
The charge was hand delivered this afternoon to the Philadelphia Regional Director of the NLRB.
We are concerned that Philadelphia Newspapers delay of bargaining and its failure to disclose its bargaining proposals are tactics designed to leave the Guild membership with no leverage in the event it submits a plan that includes contract concessions and that plan is accepted.
In bankruptcy court yesterday a company attorney informed the court that all but one of its unions had agreed to 30-day-extensions. Our counsel addressed the court that the Guild was the group that had not signed on as we believe it is in our members' best interests to begin the bargaining process at once.
Bill Ross, Administrative Officer, Dan Gross, President and the Executive Board of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia/CWA Local 38010.
By: Joe Strupp The Philadelphia Newspaper Guild, which recently rejected a request from the city's two major newspapers to extend their contract for 30 days, has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board accusing the newspapers of bad faith bargaining.