1/5/08

Writers Guild collectivism fails at home

While The Writers Guild of America continues its nationwide strike, a small group of its staff represented by the Newspaper Guild is claiming unfair labor practices and has filed a series of charges with the National Labor Relations Board.

The Newspaper Guild of New York, which represents 19 staff employees of the Writers Guild of America East (WGAE), filed several unfair labor charges with the NLRB on Thursday, according to a release. This is the same guild local that represents newsroom employees at several outlets, including The New York Times, The New York Daily News, and Reuters.

The charges claim the WGAE "has reneged on a ratified contract with its own staff, threatened a staff union leader and delayed holiday bonuses because its employees’ union asserted its rights."

"At the heart of the dispute is the WGAE management’s refusal to sign a contract that was ratified in October by its staff, who represent, organize and provide service and support to WGAE members, including those who are now out on strike," the Newspaper Guild release stated. "WGAE leaders do not deny that a contract has been ratified and is in place, but now contend that they did not mean to propose all of the wage increases that were contained in the contract offer that was accepted by the staff."

Added Newspaper Guild President Bill O'Meara: "It’s unbelievable that a union doesn’t understand that it can’t pick and choose the language it wants to live up to in a contract. The contract language clearly supports our position regarding money owed our members that management is now refusing to pay.”

O’Meara said the dispute arose after the Writers Guild rewrote the previously ratified contract and insisted that the Newspaper Guild sign the revised version. “It’s like a car salesman demanding that you sign a contract after he’s changed all the numbers that you had agreed upon,” he said.

But WGAE Spokeswoman Sherry Goldman told E&P the complaint was "making a mountain out of a molehill." She said the dispute centers primarily on the Newspaper Guild incorrectly interpreting the unsigned contract to provide a 6% raise for 2007 when it was a 3% raise.

She also said that bonuses were paid, although three days late.
Goldman said that the WGAE had filed its own charge with the NLRB in early December over the same contract dispute. "I'm not surprised," Goldman said about the Newspaper Guild filing. "The National Labor Relations Board is designed to make these decisions."

The Newspaper Guild stressed in its release, however, that it "supports the striking writers in their dispute with television and movie producers, which is entering its ninth week."

"Out of respect for our striking fellow union members we tried to work this out quietly, and we even offered to submit the dispute to arbitration,” O’Meara said. “But the WGAE leadership’s anti-labor stance against its own workers and its filing of a baseless charge against us two weeks ago, while we were still trying to resolve the issues, forced us to reluctantly take this public step to defend our members and their contract.”

(editorandpublisher.com)

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