Thursday, February 26, 2009

Save Our Trade: Los Angeles Times Pressmens 20 Year Club: LA Times Response To Pressman's Protest

This is Ronnie Pineda's response to Nancy Sullivan's message yesterday.

GCC/IBTLocal 140-N
President's Response

In these economic times, is it fair to offer pressroom employees a severance package substantially less than non-union employees just because we organized and ratified a contract? The contract states that the company can fashion severance for our members, so why is it being fashioned far less than ALL other employees being laid off? Because were union? The Times could give our members the same as the non-union employees, actually, they could give more if they wanted to! How does that respect our rights to organize Nancy?

The Los Angeles Times has NEVER respected our right to organize! And it is obvious by the numerous changes our shops have undergone since ratification. Prior to organizing, the company had the right to make these same exact changes to our operation, but they didn't, and there is only one reason why they did after ratification. The contract didn't change anything because they had the right to do these things all along, but they didn't and they don't have to now. These are all calculated moves by the company and another example of how the company continues to employ union busting techniques and coerces employees into blaming the union. How does that respect our rights Nancy?

We were subjected to union-busting throughout the organizing process. The Times has ALWAYS hired union busters to help trample all over our right to organize! Our former SVP admitted in an anti-union meeting that "third party Attorneys were used, all the while referring to the Teamsters as a third party. The services they provide are used to dissuade employees from voting in favor of representation. On company time, we were corralled into captive audience meetings and continuously given anti-union propaganda literature that was intended to induce fear, focusing on strikes, violence and intimidation. How does that respect our rights Nancy?

We have endured union-busting tactics during negotiations as well. Attempts to change working conditions, refusing to assist employees in need by telling them, "go talk to the union" and also by teaching supervision union busting techniques to dissuade employees from organizing taught to them in union busting classes by union-busting Attorneys. How does that respect our rights Nancy?

Management has exploited the contract language with the intent of making employees regret organizing our shops. Their goal is to cause pressroom employees to blame the union for all that is now wrong in our shops. We did not make or negotiate these changes nor would we agree to the changes, for they were not specifically discussed in negotiations. Alot was not discussed in negotiations when management abruptly presented their "Best Offer" The bankruptcy notification had a major influence in many voters decision to ratify. Had we not ratified this contract, the bankruptcy would have allowed the company to rape us further with absolutely no defense. How does that respect our rights Nancy?

The company is using their management rights in an abusive fashion and continually says "You wanted a contract". How is that respecting our rights Nancy?

The 63 employees targeted for layoff have approximately 1510 combined years of "Company"service with an average of 23.92 years per employee and almost 1000 years of pressroom service, with an average of 15.46 years!
(statistics courtesy of Operator Steve Grant)

With all these years of service, the company chooses to ignore the contributions we have made to the production of this newspaper. We spent practically every Thanksgiving, Christmas, 4th of July and many other holidays and family events spanning 3 decades to get a quality newspaper in the hands of subscribers and advertisers yet we don't deserve a comparable severance package. How does that respect our rights Nancy?

The Times should be embarrassed for ignoring that dedication and commitment to this company? Has the company really respected our right to organize? NO Nancy, because we chose to organize and won. That did not sit well with Newton and Walker and they have both taken it personal. In thirty years at the Times, I have never worked for such arrogant, abusive, and spiteful individuals. It is impossible for these two to views their subordinates as human beings because they don't respect us as human beings. Cruelty seems to be included in their daily diet based on the way they choose to interact with their union employees.

In these economic times more workers are seeking representation to protect their interest in the work place and to insure fair and equal treatment from their employers.
This company is historically known for it's anti-union sentiment and it continues to exhibit that philosophy in both our shops and in severance negotiations. We can all benefit from a cohesive labor/management relationship, but management chooses to operate from a position of power, rather that one of mutual interest. That ignorant position is making it even more of a stressful, hostile and extremely unsafe work environment.

What is the reason we are being offered less severance? The contract doesn't say they can't give equal severance to our members. All laid off employees deserve equivalent severance regardless of whether their union or not. We have to go through protracted negotiations for equal severance, simply because we organized and the company does not, nor have they ever respected our rights, Nancy.

Management, supervision and you, as spokesperson can deny all you want, but the fact is we are being punished for exercising our federally protected right to form a union.
Retaliation began immediately upon ratification and it will continue as long as Publisher Hartenstein fails to investigate and correct the unfair treatment of our members.

Stop the retaliation and punishment and resolve our disputes in a harmonious fashion as we agreed to in the contract and we won't be compelled to file grievances or board charges. Management wants us to abide by the contract, yet when they don't.
How does that respect our rights Nancy?

Your sterile response should be ignored and I'm sure it already has been, because you personally have absolutely no idea what we have gone through over the last decade, specifically the last 4 years in order to succeed in organizing. Nor do you know or understand what we continue to go through at the hands of SVP Newton and L.A. pressroom Superintendent Walker, so in my opinion, you are far from qualified to respond to our Rally.

End Of Rant!

In Solidarity,
President Pineda
GCC/IBT Local 140-N

Save Our Trade: Los Angeles Times Pressmens 20 Year Club: LA Times Response To Pressman's Protest


dkoval said...

awsome re=sponse ronnie glad to have you as our union rep i think its only fair to give the pressmen who are leaving a fair sevrence package this lady has no idea the commitment all these employes who are leaving have done for our paper.

grandspud said...

President Pineda's Response:

"...The contract states that the company can fashion severance for our members..."

Mr. President, why would you and your negotiation team not have specified severance terms in the contract? You guys had an obligation to address such obvious things!

I think you're going to make an excellent president. You've already mastered the crucial, political skill of diverting blame.

Ronnie Pineda said...


As always you speak without facts. We had clear severance language in our original proposals which the company rejected.

They weren't willing to commit to any specific terms of a memorialized severance in our contract. Ask Russ why not.

The company gave our members the same severance in the previous buy-outs and they can also this time, there is nothing in the contract saying they can't. So ask Russ why not.

Why don't you ever view the Newton, Walker and the company under the same microscope?

grandspud said...

With all due respect,
Mr. President.

You failed to even negotiate basic severance conditions into the contract. The very contract you brought back and sold to your people.

What were you and your negotiating team doing? Don't you take any responsibility for this debacle?

The lame excuses you cite (in above post) for your nonperformance are:

"...They weren't willing...""

"...the company rejected..."

" gave our members the same severance before..."

...and my personal favorite...

"...there is nothing in the contract saying they can't..."

Well, Mr. President, there is nothing in my home mortgage contract saying the bank can't just stop requiring me to pay the money back. However, I'd never count on that happening.