THE VINDICATOR Teamsters OK pact, will end walkout
The mailers received signing bonuses and agreed to health insurance contributions.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Members of Teamsters Local 473 are scheduled to return to their jobs tonight after overwhelmingly agreeing Sunday to a new contract with The Vindicator to end a seven-week strike.
The Teamsters represent 24 employees in the newspaper's mailroom -- 18 full-timers and six part-timers. Mailroom employees bundle the paper, stuff papers with preprinted inserts and prepare the papers to be loaded on delivery trucks.
Mark A. Brown, the newspaper's general manager, said the paper's negotiators and the union's representatives renewed talks Saturday morning in Cleveland and reached a tentative agreement later that day.
"We're very pleased that we were able to reach an agreement with the Teamsters, and we're happy to have them come back to work," Brown said.
Local 11 of The Newspaper Guild, which represents newsroom, circulation and classified advertising workers, remains on strike.
"The Teamsters took a realistic view of the company's financial situation, and we were able to work out a reasonable settlement much as we did with the pressmen a few months ago," Brown added. "We hope that at some point the Guild will take a reasonable view, too."
The mailers' old pact expired Sept. 15, 2003, and the employees had been working under that agreement while it attempted to hammer out a new contract. But when Guild members went on strike last Nov. 16, the mailers joined them on the picket line a few days later.
Brown said the new agreement will last through Jan. 31, 2006. Full-time members will get a $1,000 signing bonus and another $1,000 bonus July 31. Part-time workers will get a $500 signing bonus and another $500 bonus July 31.
Mike Ross, chief steward for the mailers, said the members aren't getting any raises but agreed to the substantial bonuses to help "offset the costs of hospitalization we agreed to pay."
Brown said current mailers will pay a 15 percent contribution toward their health benefits. That figure increases to 25 percent for future hires. He said those are the same percentages agreed to by the newspaper's pressroom workers and what has been offered to the Guild.
Brown added the new pact makes changes in the paper's production incentive plan.
"We also received staffing changes and other operational changes that will allow us to save money over the life of the contract," Brown said. "We agreed to cut costs and give some of those savings back to the employees."
Ross said the mailers talked to the Guild's executive board to explain their actions.
"We had to take our best interests at heart," Ross said.