Friday, September 15, 2006

Employee Letter to Los Angeles Times Workers

From: David Rascon
To all operations employees
Subject: NO FATE

First I want to thank all of you that have shown your support in our efforts to organize the remaining two plants.

I’ve been looking at a lot of paper work from past union campaigns and one thing is very clear.
Senior Vice President Mark H. Kurtich will say or do anything to keep you an AT WILL EMPLOYEE.

OCT.22, 1999
Mark writes, “All of you have spoken loudly more than once in the past several years about your unwillingness to have a third party represent your interest in the company.”
Correct me if I am wrong, but you need a second party to have a third party.
Oh that’s, right the blue ribbon committee.

You remember the blue ribbon committee made up of two or three pressmen and the rest management.

They negotiated your manning from 5 pressmen to 7 pressmen.
That’s far less than a majority vote.

It’s not the committees’ fault because they are given a path to follow; a road map if you will.
The committee is steered toward its only conclusion, which is what management wanted in the first place. The same is true in focus groups and task teams. You really don’t have a voice. And what’s up with that safety inquisition? The only way to get out of this is to imply that it was your fault that you got hurt or get a lawyer.

He also writes in the same letter, “Why must we continue to periodically waste each other’s time with distractions from a small group of disgruntled employees with their own agendas?” Mark is right. We do have an agenda; to get a contract that locks in wages, benefits, working conditions, and keeps his hands out of our pockets every December.

He also likes to say things like, you can end up with far less than you already have in negotiations. If this is true, why does he fight it? Wouldn’t it be better for the company if we got less? It is not because he cares about us and our families or that he wants to protect us from the big bad unions. No, it’s because from the publisher down to middle management they have managed to keep the union out and cut costs to the bone. Needless to say, this management team has made a big splash with Tribune. They need to be able to cut what ever, when ever, and where ever, all for profit and to have complete control over you. By Now it’s business as usual for Mark and his team. I’m not saying that he doesn’t have feeling about things that are happening to us here at the Times. It’s just business; the business of profits. Their interests are not in your best interest. Wages, benefits, working conditions these three things are what unions are in the business of protecting. GET IT IN WRITING!

In your first contract you will trade up, not down.

When our drivers were let go and hired by Ryder their wages and heath care were cut way down. They began to organize. They also were told by Ryder management that they could get less on a fist contract. They didn’t. They now have better health care than the Times have ever had and their wages went up. Why would anybody vote on a contract gives you less than you already have?

If you don’t believe me, walk over to docks and just ask any driver they will tell you the truth. “TEAMSTERS BABY

Mark has also said in other letters that the GCIU had very little power to negotiate good contracts in California. What he has left out is that the GCIU has merged with the TEAMSTERS. With 1.4 million Members it is the biggest union in the country.

Do you still believe that we could not negotiate a good contract with Tribune in Southern California?

Should we win an election, the GCIU has asked that we form our own local between the two plants. Who better than ourselves could work with management on issues that only Times pressroom employees understand. From the two plants we would vote on officers, the amount of dues paid per month, and other things that involve running a local. So you can see there is no third party. It’s just us and them. The GCIU/IBT is the legal part of the process. From this point forward everything is done by a majority vote.

Mark likes to write scary stuff like failed contracts, strikes, and lock outs. He makes comparisons to other companies like Coach and Equipment Sales Corp. and Ludwig Motor Corp. None of this has anything to do with us. If you’ve seen a NEWSDAY contract it has a no strike, no lock out clause.

Can you really trust Mark or his team? What about the two new guys, we haven’t seen their true colors yet. Time will tell. I know this they are not here to look out for your best interest.
Our new VP Russ Newton, on more than one occasion, has said in so many words you guys are over paid. Why would he say this and then try to gain your trust and respect in his crew meetings. Trust and respect are things earned over time. He has also said that if it were up to him you would not choose crews. He would build crews based on talent. Gee, how fair is this? Trust him? I think not.

When the valley plant was closed it was big blow to all of us. To say that I wasn’t pissed off about the way things were handled, I would be lying. Nine months later, I am over it. If any of you still have bad feelings because you lost seniority please try and move on. There is nothing we can do change that. The valley pressroom had nothing to do with any of this. Management gave them two weeks to make a life changing decision.

Channel your anger and frustration where it belongs, with upper management.
With the majority of the Oly. Plant well in to their 40’s, does it look like this company plans on keeping our pressroom staffed with press personal that are paid our wages? Take a look around you don’t see new apprentices to take our positions as we retire. They are systematically taking us out. Management says that they don’t plan ahead about things that affect us such as; the lay offs of our drivers and mechanics, the closing of the North Ridge plant. We now know this is lie, they know well in advance. This management team is very capable of calculated deceit. Is Tribune calling the shots? I don’t know, but I do know you just can’t trust management anymore. Hard to believe that when I first met Kurtich I had complete trust in him, he has that affect on people. My trust in him was gone within a year or so.

Management thinks well ahead and you should be doing the same. Unions are in the business of protecting workers rights. Corporations are in the business of making profit from the work their employees perform, and any other way it can; cutting benefits, wages, and staffing.
We don’t work for a family run news paper anymore. This is the Tribune Corporation.
I think Tribune could care less if we went union. After all, practically everything they own is union. By the time Kurtich gets a copy of this letter I am sure someone from Tribune will write something against the union at Marks request. They’ve been taking away things for years, there’s no bargaining going on here.

Kurtich has said that union supporters have promised to get a contract like New York Times, or even a Newsday contract. Never have we made that promise. Some of you asked to see some contracts so we provided them again. These contracts have nothing to do with us at the Times they’re just examples of what bargaining can do.

I am urging all of you don’t let this chance to get a contract slip away again. Talk to someone a family member, your neighbor, your co workers and try to make it to meetings. But for god sake don’t leave it up to FATE. That will get you nothing. This is your future were talking about, take control of it. Were not asking for the moon, just a fair contract so that we may survive in their world.

I’m sorry for going on, I wanted to keep this short but when start to think about the past and future, stuff just comes out. Please get hold of a pledge card as soon as possible and sign it. Time is running on this one. You can get your cards back to me Dave Rascon or some one you know is union supporter.



Anonymous said...

Mr. Rascon , what is the UAW doing to the save the jobs of Ford Motror Co. employess ? How many are going to lose there jobs ??

Anonymous said...

I know many Ryder drivers. I use to be one. Yes, they will tell you they did better under the Teamsters, and I believe they did. After all, they were not even going to be guarenteed a full work week at the time they joined Ryder.

However, ask them if they believe Times pressmen need a union. Most every one of them I know (and that's a lot) would laugh at that question. They recognize Times pressmen, and other departments, still have some of the best jobs in the nation.

Anonymous said...

So many negative opinions about unions, corporate takes advantage of our ignorance to discourage people. If it's that bad, let us try it, if it does not work, we can alwas vote it out.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #3 is this the way you do things in your personal life ? Our lives and careers are not an experiment. Unfortunatly people have that same outlook on marriage, pets , finances , etc..

Ignornace ?? I will not even go there.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #3 , Can we VOTE YOU OUT ??????

Anonymous said...

How about organizing the newsroom, too!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Dave. The possibilty of carpet pulled from under our feet if this newspaper folds or sells. For all thats worth. Presspeople do the manual labor that gets out to the public. The mos important part of the process. Most of us are in our 40's and 50's and its important that we have some future to lead us into retirement. Most office suck ups kill our opportunity to finish our careers with some dignity and respect. Many times its been reported THE TIMES is the only core asset of Tribune making money. Right now there making 20% profit. Civic leaders are asking Tribune to get rid of the Ax. Many of our Presspeople sitting on the wall hoping they dont fall off, instead of overcoming lies and fear to protect each other.

Anonymous said...

Third comment makes it sound so easy.Not the case.The union people make it sound terrific yea right.I like it just the way it is a great place to work.Go try working in a real sweat shop like OC REGISTER.I did for 2 and half years.Just my opinion most pro union people are the whiners and lazy press people.CORPORATE has taken care of my family for 28yrs

Anonymous said...

your right anonymous we did vote " it " out in 68' and look at what happened

Anonymous said...

humm...anonymous 1 # please tell us what does the UAW have to do with us ???..... let the UAW handel their situation and we'll handel ours

Ed Padgett said...

Dear Readers,

It would be nice if you would select a username instead of anonymous. This would allow users to direct their comments to you.

Quick Tip: Before posting your comment, click on other, and enter a username for all your comments.

Example: Flyboy

Thank you,

Mr. OC said...

anonymous #10 the UAW has nothing to do with the Times obviously, it is simply an example of the union not being able to stop what Ford needs to do to stay in busines . I am sure all of those Ford union employees feel safe right now, you know with union representation and all.

Anonymous said...

Half you Oly press people should learn how to run the press first, then worry about a union!

Anonymous said...

Only half??

Anonymous said...

We must be lucky at Oly, with just half knowing how to run the presses, Irony, paper still comes out on time (most of the time) I guess luck is on our side, maybe the same luck will help us keep our jobs or better yet, our salaries the way they are.

Anonymous said...

WOW! talk about hitting the nail on the head. How come most of the "union supporters" have not made it out of the basement?
"Save our trade"? How about "learn our trade".

OC Operator said...

Yea listen to a paster maker R.P. Since 1968 its never been back. What does that speak volumes.Happy just the way our department is in OC a lot of great coworkers and a few grumpy unhappy people.

Anonymous said...

OC operator...I hope you feel the same happiness when they decide to close that plant also, Oly has printed over 60% of production for generations, What if?.... what's another 40%, maybe combining sections here and there? If you can smile about that, God speed!!

Anonymous said...

generations?? has Oly been open that long??

Anonymous said...

soon.. OC Operator will be L.A. Operator ( without a crew )
hope you like the commute OC Operator ( LOL ) OH....and peace be with you


A very short commute 32 miles from tustin most oly commutes are longer. Also OC numbers are much better. So you take care of oly and we will worry about OC PEACE BE WITH YOU Also a very good seniorty number below 50 both plants SEE YEA

Anonymous said...


It’s true unions can’t stop companies from closing their doors. But is it fair to compare Ford motor Co. to a newspaper? You know apples to oranges.
Unions believe in American jobs for American workers.
Corporate America believes in outsourcing American jobs.

Don’t blame unions for corporate greed. UAW negotiated a good buyout package for their members.
I don’t believe Tribune or Times management would mention this in any meetings, or the anti union letters they put out.

Holly crap, I feel another letter coming out

Anonymous said...

your right anonymous mark & co would most likey " forget to mention " that Oh... and keep those letters coming LOL