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-- An update on negotiations --



Published: Sat, January 22, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Dear Readers:

Strikes are not hard to start but are often hard to end. Unfortunately, this strike is no exception. Strikes also breed misinformation. After hearing the Guild's report of our last negotiating session, we feel that we must set the record straight.

On Tuesday, we met face to face with the Guild for two and one-half hours of negotiations. The Guild presented a proposal that it claimed contained cost savings. But the Guild's proposal INCREASED, not decreased, The Vindicator's costs and contained expenses that were substantially higher than our best, and final, offer.

The Guild's proposal would increase The Vindicator's costs by more than $620,000.

The Guild's proposal included:

UA combination of wage and bonus increases of up to 19.5 percent over the term of the agreement, depending on the wage classification.

UNo employee health-care contributions for one year, a period eight months longer than The Vindicator proposed.

URejection of an employee health-care contribution that has already been agreed to by the inserting operators (Teamsters) and press operators (GCIU).

UA continuation of unnecessary sixth-day overtime, except for eight district managers who would lose it.

UNo changes to the district managers' use of company cars.

The union's claimed $400,000 cost saving is simply wrong. About 40 percent of the claimed saving relates to two jobs The Vindicator had already eliminated.

The remaining claimed saving relates to a reduction of unnecessary sixth-day overtime for only eight out of 20 district managers, seven of whom crossed the picket line and came to work. The saving claimed is overstated by almost 300 percent. The eight district managers' sixth-day overtime actually totaled about $28,000 a year. The remaining 12 district managers would continue to get the unnecessary overtime. The Vindicator's best, and final, offer included elimination of all unnecessary sixth-day overtime.

We are very disappointed that the Guild persists in taking an unrealistic view of The Vindicator's circumstances. Nevertheless, we put our best, and final, offer back on the table for the Guild and its members to reconsider. That offer still contains wage increases and bonuses in spite of seven years of operating in the red.

On a more optimistic note, we are pleased to have reached a new agreement with our employees in the inserting operation represented by the Teamsters. On Jan. 10, the Teamsters returned to work, joining the press operators represented by the GCIU, the platemakers represented by the CWA/ITU, and our other employees who have continued to work and serve you.

We hope we will soon be able to welcome our Guild-represented employees back to work. This strike has lasted much too long.

But in the meantime, our thanks go to you, our subscribers, our advertisers, our employees (union and nonunion) who continue to work, and our carriers for your patience and understanding during these unfortunate times.

Betty Jagnow, publisher

Mark Brown, general manager




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