August 31, 2017
DENVER —Representatives of 13 NewsGuild and CWA Mailers bargaining units met Thursday with management of Digital First Media to press union demands for a 2017 pay increase.
DFM management brought no new wage proposal to the Denver meeting, but held open the possibility of making one soon — and suggested that it was looking for additional savings in the area of pension administration that might influence its willingness to make a wage proposal.
Guild representatives said they were open to hearing more about the idea, but insisted that pay increases not be held hostage to complex pension matters. The parties agreed to review the situation at the end of next week, after some initial discussions among pension officials. No further face-to-face meetings were scheduled Thursday.
The Denver talks were convened under terms of a 2017 wage reopener — part of a three-year national agreement reached last year with DFM management covering workers at The Mercury News, East Bay Times, Monterey Herald, The Denver Post, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Pottstown Mercury, Norristown Times Herald, The Trentonian, The Delaware County Times, Daily Freeman, and The Macomb Daily.
We stand united
Representatives of 13 NewsGuild and CWA Mailers bargaining units at Digital First Media will convene this week to set in motion new plans to win a pay increase after management failed to make a promised wage proposal last Friday in Denver.
Anger, coupled with resolve, best characterize the initial reactions from union leaders across DFM: anger at the company for showing up empty-handed, and resolve to stay strong and united in our latest campaign to win a pay increase.
That feedback was communicated to management on Friday, but representatives know that the message will need to be clearly communicated as soon as possible at each DFM location. That’s among the topics that will be discussed in this week’s national conference call.
While DFM began its new fiscal year on July 1 and has approved its budget, management said it would need additional time before making its wage proposal.
Management’s stated reason for the delay: Financial performance at some newspapers isn’t as good as it would like, and internal discussions continue about whether – and how – to address that fact in a joint proposal to be made to all 13 bargaining units.
In response, your bargaining committee made these things clear to DFM management:
EMPLOYEES ARE ANGRY: The anger is fueled, in part, by management’s delay in responding to a proposal that unions presented in March. But that anger is magnified by layoffs, buyouts, and attrition that have reduced our ranks by 300 nationwide since early in 2016. In some cases, layoffs were announced immediately after members have won state or national awards. The effect on morale has been devastating.
EMPLOYEES STAND UNITED: The resolve behind our proposal for an across-the-board increase at every DFM newspaper remains stronger than ever. All employees deserve a raise for their amazing, award-winning work despite the cost-cutting ordered by Alden Global Capital, the New York hedge fund that owns DFM. At a minimum, responsible employers budget for annual cost of living increases to preserve their employees’ buying power as the cost of living rises. We expect no less.
Last Friday’s meeting was the second between management and the 13 unions since negotiations opened in March. It’s part of a joint wage re-opener included in all 13 contracts jointly negotiated last year.
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DFM management said it would present a wage proposal to representatives for 13 NewsGuild-CWA bargaining units at a bargaining session in Denver on July 14.
That proposal would represent management’s first formal response to a union proposal in March. In June, union members across all DFM bargaining units signed petitions demanding a response to the unions’ proposal.
Beginning July 12 and continuing for two days – each DFM bargaining unit will take part in a joint solidarity action in support of the unions’ bargaining committee. Unit leaders at each paper will provide details.
This year’s wage negotiations were a key part of the historic three-year agreement in 2016 covering 13 DFM bargaining units, which included a 3 percent pay increase effective August 1, 2016.
A second wage re-opener will occur in 2018.
Unions proposed a $1-per-hour, across-the-board pay increase for all employees effective July 1, the beginning of DFM’s fiscal year.
Here is a link to a pdf of the current bulletin for posting in the workplace: