JTA seeks right to cut salaries, fire employees without cause
Unit Chair Marc Brodsky and Local Representative Susan DeCarava met with JTA management on October 26 to commence bargaining for a new contract. Management was represented at the table by Ami Eden, publisher, and Lee SIlverstein, director of finance and admin. No proposals were exchanged, though there was general discussion from management about “needing greater flexibility.”
So we were not surprised when, at our second meeting on November 26, management made a series of far-reaching proposals that would significantly worsen the workplace environment at JTA for Guild-represented employees.
Among the most significant and harmful of the company’s proposals is a fundamental change that goes to the heart of Guild representation: The deletion of job security and the requirement for just and sufficient cause in dismissals. While many employees may never see examples of this, this provision silently sets a civil tone in the workplace. The “just and sufficient cause” provision is central to our contract because it makes the disciplinary process fair and allows employees time to address problems that may arise. Without it, management is under no obligation to go through the steps of progressive discipline and may instead fire employees at will.
Another fundamental change the company is proposing is in the wage provision of our contract. Currently, there is a pay scale that mandates minimum salaries and annual negotiated increases for Guild members, which are separate from any bonuses and merit pay the company may award at its discretion. Management wants to do away with that system, and instead institute a minimum $35,000 salary for all Guild positions regardless of experience, and eliminate classifications and general increases. Raises, if you’re lucky enough to “qualify,” would be wholly determined by JTA managers and based upon “annual performance.” How will your performance be determined, what is your performance worth, and who decides what you get from year to year? All good questions that remain unanswered by management’s proposal. Management was quick to point out that under its proposal current employees would get a one-time 3 percent bonus at the end of 2011. Of course, there’s a catch. Management has also proposed that it can reduce salaries at any time. Currently our contract bars wage reductions.
There are other company proposals that raise serious concerns for the Guild bargaining committee, like limiting the future jurisdiction of Guild work; the unlimited right to subcontract our work (and our jobs); the expanded (and in some instances unlimited) use of temporary employees; limits on vacations, including eliminating the option to cash out and/or carry over unused time; cost increases for medical coverage for single enrollees and new limits on work you may do outside of JTA, whether it’s paid or unpaid.
The Guild is strongly committed to resisting these proposals, which undermine the rights and protections of our contract. Our next negotiating session is scheduled for Wednesday, at which time the Guild bargaining committee will make its counterproposals to management.
Guild Bargaining Committee
Marc Brodsky, Unit Chair
Susan DeCarava, Local Represenative