THE VINDICATOR Guild OKs new pact; back-to-work issues remain

Issues of how union members return to work must be worked out.
YOUNGSTOWN -- After nearly nine months walking the picket line, members of the Youngstown Newspaper Guild have narrowly approved a contract that provides signing bonuses and a 4 percent raise over three years.
The vote passed Wednesday 50-41.
The three-year pact includes raises of 11/3 percent each year and bonuses of $400 in the first year and $200 in the second year for each employee.
"We look forward to reaching an agreement on the back-to-work issues so that we can concentrate all of our efforts on serving our advertisers, readers and the community," said Mark Brown, general manager of the newspaper. "We are grateful for the support of our nonstriking employees, both union and nonunion, who have worked so hard for nearly nine months to preserve jobs for everyone at The Vindicator."
Finalizing the contract
A settlement agreement that spells out when and how employees return to work remains to be worked out.
Members of the guild, which includes newsroom reporters, photographers, nonsupervising editors, page designers and clerks, classified advertising personnel, and circulation district managers and drivers, struck the newspaper Nov. 16.
The wage and health care provisions approved Wednesday mirrored what the newspaper offered and the union rejected in December.
Contract language regarding the newspaper's ability to lay off workers was the final obstacle in negotiations. The union no longer has as much protection, but it still has the ability to challenge the newspaper over layoffs, said Debora Shaulis Flora, union vice president.
"We gave things, but we achieved some things," she said.
The strike started with 179 union members, but shrunk as many workers resigned from the guild to return to work or found other employment. Wednesday's vote total, however, shows that about one-third of the remaining membership didn't vote.
They had rejected previous contract proposals three times over the nearly nine-month work stoppage. Representatives of their international organization, The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America, had recommended approval of those offers.

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