Union rejects Vindicator offer; replacement process to begin
Union leadership did not recommend approval of the contract offer.
YOUNGSTOWN -- After the rejection Wednesday night by The Newspaper Guild Local 11 of The Vindicator's wage increase and bonus proposal, the newspaper today will begin the process of hiring permanent replacements for striking employees.
Vindicator General Manager Mark Brown said the union rejected by an 85-17 vote a package of raises and bonuses totaling almost 6 percent over three years, with higher percentages of increases at lower classifications.
"We're very disappointed, because we were hopeful that we would have a settlement," Brown said.
Brown said that a federal mediator had asked Vindicator management earlier Wednesday to accept the Guild's March 11 wage and bonuses proposal.
It also called for about 6 percent in total increases, but Brown described it as more "front-loaded" than the newspaper's most recent proposal, with 1.3 percent pay increases for each of the three years, compared with the newspapers 1-1-2 percent proposal. The Guild proposal also provided higher raises for lower classifications.
But Brown said that union membership didn't get to vote on that proposal, and instead was presented with the paper's prior proposal. The newspaper had presented that proposal with a midnight Wednesday deadline for acceptance.
"We agreed to accept the Guild's [March 11] proposal in the interest of settling the strike," he said. "It appears that the union has no interest in trying to settle."
Guild officer responds
Union Vice President Debora Shaulis Flora said the proposal was rejected because the sides remain at odds over contract language regarding the newspaper's ability to lay off workers.
"The layoff language is more important at this point," she said.
Union members were informed about what could happen if they rejected the offer, which union leadership did not recommend for approval. No further negotiations have been scheduled, Shaulis Flora said.
In recent negotiating sessions, The Vindicator reached agreement with the Guild on issues involving the use of company vehicles by circulation employees. But Brown said the Guild presented new demands with wage increases and bonuses of from 15 percent to 30 percent over three years at a session Friday.
Employees of three other unions -- Teamsters, GC.I.U. and CWA/ITU -- have continued working for the newspaper during the strike. Guild members began their strike, now in its ninth month, on Nov. 16, and about 145 Vindicator employees remain on strike.
But Brown said that as of today, about 40 percent of the newspaper's reporting staff and 35 percent of its circulation district managers will be at work.