After 18 months of negotiating a unified print and digital contract, the Guild today reiterated its desire to continue on that track. But when asked if the company would agree to join in that effort, its lead lawyer, Bernard Plum, said that even though management also wants one contract, he has to be prepared to proceed with dual contracts.
What’s not being said is that The Times wants to be able to go to impasse, which would allow it to impose its “last, best offer” on Guild members, which certainly would lead to a pension freeze, financial trouble for the health care plan and drastic changes to work rules.
In response to the company’s bizarre insistence on bargaining along two tracks despite its stated desire for one unified contract, the Guild informed management that it would have to consult with representatives of the newspaper unit, and the digital unit to discuss how to proceed.
As we have explained previously, under the law the newspaper and digital units remain under separate contracts until the members of each vote to consolidate under one contract.
Today’s bargaining session also featured an explanation of the company’s counterproposal on profit sharing, the metrics of which are said to be the same as the plan for a select group of excluded employees. However, the proposed payouts for Guild employees are far less. When asked about the history of payouts, which are based on meeting budget projections, one of The Times’s chief financial officers, Roland Caputo, said that over the last 10 years, the plan had paid a bonus averaging 11 percent of salary, and that there had not been a year in that span when there wasn’t a payout. The Guild will discuss the information provided with its financial adviser and consider a counterproposal.
The Guild ended today’s meeting by informing the company that our committee would use the next scheduled meeting date to caucus so that it can meet with its financial adviser and prepare a counter-proposal on profit sharing, as well as the issue of how to proceed with negotiations over one contract or two separate contracts.
We will keep you informed.