The strike by The Newspaper Guild Local 11 against The Vindicator is now in its ninth month. We need to end this strike so we can concentrate on running our business and serving you, our readers, carriers, advertisers and community.
The Vindicator has called for three negotiating sessions in the last two weeks. During these sessions, The Vindicator and the Guild reached agreement on the major issue of the use of company vehicles and a few other issues. We were hopeful that a new contract would soon be negotiated. Unfortunately, that did not happen.
In a startling turn of events Friday afternoon, the Guild presented new wage demands with wage increases and bonuses totaling 15 percent to 30 percent (depending on the classification) over three years. The Guild's wage package was particularly upsetting because the Guild's prior wage proposal called for wage increases and bonuses totaling about 6 percent over three years with higher percentages for the lower classifications.
A wage package demand two to three times higher than the previous proposal is obviously not responsive to the economic realities faced by The Vindicator, which has lost money for eight years. To further complicate matters, the majority of strikers has no incentive to return to work since more than 60 percent of them receive strike benefits equal to or almost equal to what they received while working for The Vindicator.
That fact, coupled with the Guild's new wage and bonus package proposal, led The Vindicator to the obvious conclusion that the Guild has no desire to negotiate a contract, to end the strike and to return to work.
Nevertheless, The Vindicator has presented the Guild with a complete proposal, which includes wage increases and bonuses totaling almost 6 percent over three years with higher percentages for the lower classifications. This offer is contingent upon the Guild's acceptance of the offer on or before July 27. The Vindicator has an obligation to protect the union jobs of employees in the three unions (Teamsters, G.C.I.U. and CWA/ITU), which have all been working during the strike, and of its other employees. The Vindicator told the Guild that if the offer is not accepted, it would begin the process of hiring replacements for workers, beginning July 28. We hope we will not be forced into this action, but if after nine months the issues cannot be resolved, it will be time for the parties to go their separate ways.
We want there to be no doubt that we are and intend to continue to be the only union newspaper in the Mahoning Valley. Even the Guild's weekly strike paper is produced with a nonunion publishing company, printed in a nonunion shop and distributed by a nonunion company. We have employees represented by three unions that have been working during the strike. We will continue to work with our fourth union, the Guild, in the future even if its members change.
We hope that we will soon be able to welcome our Guild-represented employees back to work. Thank you for your continued understanding and support.
Betty Jagnow, publisher
Mark Brown, general manager