Talks begin for new Purple Communications ASL interpreter unit
Purple Communications unit
Bargaining Bulletin #1
In an historic first, representatives of Purple Communications met with a Pacific Media Workers Guild Local 39521 bargaining team in a San Francisco hotel yesterday. The meeting kicked off negotiations for a labor agreement to cover Purple’s Video Interpreters in the Arizona, Denver, Oakland and San Diego centers.
Representing the company were Attorney Robert Kane; Vice President of Human Resources Tanya Monette; Vice President of Operations Fran Cummings; and Denver Center Director Danelle Jansen.
The stage for the meeting was set last October when employees from those four centers voted to be represented by PMWG and its parent union, The Newspaper Guild/Communications Workers of America.
After a somewhat rocky start caused by confusion about the actual meeting location, the two teams got down to business. Both sides came with proposals, and both proposals included a “just-cause” provision; a grievance procedure; and binding third-party arbitration if differences cannot be resolved. The language of those proposals was considerably different, and those differences will have to be worked out in future bargaining sessions. But the fact that the two sides seemingly agreed in principle that the contract will include those very basic tenets of any labor agreement was seen as a positive sign by the union team.
A just-cause provision will require the company to have a good reason to discipline an employee. Without such a provision, employees may be disciplined or fired for pretty much any reason and, unless a discipline violates anti-discrimination laws, management’s decisions are not challengeable in any meaningful way.
While differing considerably in their approaches, both sides’ proposals included language covering what would happen in the event of a layoff and anti-discrimination clauses.
Probably the most controversial proposal from the company is one that defines full-time employees as those who work 36 or more hours a week, rather than the 32 hours that is now the standard. Under the company’s proposal, anyone who is “regularly scheduled to work for less than 36 hours per workweek” is a non-benefited employee. The company argued that it wants the change because it “wants to get more out” of its full-time employees.
Much of the rest of the company’s proposal involved legal issues that are unlikely to interest anyone beyond the bargaining team, but two noteworthy proposals in their offer were a health and safety clause and a “reasonable accommodation” for disabled employees provision.
For its part, beyond the provisions already described plus union-shop and dues-deduction procedures, the union did not make proposals on many matters of concern, and will do so at later sessions. The shortage of union proposals was primarily due to the fact that we had not been provided information we need to formulate our proposal prior to the meeting. Purple representatives promised to move to provide that information promptly.
No proposals were presented concerning economic issues like wages, health benefits, paid leave and the like. The two sides agreed that we will bargain over non-economic contract items before moving to the money matters.
After a lengthy hiatus caused by scheduling conflicts, the two sides will next meet in San Diego on April 18. The precise location of the meeting will be announced well in advance of the meeting and individual VIs are encouraged to attend as observers.
PMWG Purple Communications Unit
National Bargaining Team:
Mary Jane Moore, Arizona: National Unit Chair
Lindsey Antle, Denver: National Vice Chair
Margie Brooks, Oakland: National Vice Chair
Michelle Caplette, Arizona: National Vice Chair
Martin Yost, San Diego: National Vice Chair
Bruce Meachum, PMWG Representative: Chief Spokesperson
Also serving on the bargaining team for Tuesday were Jo Linda Greenfield, Denver Assistant Vice Chair (AVC) Laurie Rivard, Oakland AVC; and Norma Villegas, San Diego AVC.