|Robert Daraio (r.) with Newspaper Guild members Photo by Marc Bussanich|
Daraio noted some of the contract issues at stake.
“The company wants to freeze the pension plan and replace it with a 401k plan that will result in a value loss of one-third to one-half for our members.”
|Guild member outside shareholder meeting. Photo by Marc Bussanich|
Daraio said while the company is seeking a three-year contract with no wage increase in the first year, a one percent raises in year two and a one percent bonus in the third year, the union has proposed a five-year contract with a four percent increase each year.
“Our members haven’t had been offered serious wage increases in the Times current proposal. Guild members took a temporary 5% pay cut in 2009 at The Times request to help the company during financially hard times.”
In addition to placing more of the burden on the employees to fund their retirements, the company wants to underfund the health plan. “The company hasn’t increased contributions to the plan for years,” Daraio said.
He noted that the industry-standard for health care contributions by employers is 12 percent, but the company contributes only slightly more than six percent. The union is asking the company to increase the rate to 12 percent over the life of a five-year contract.
Despite the request for concessions and givebacks from the union members, “the company paid out a $24 million severance package in January to a failed CEO, Janet Robinson,” noted Daraio.
Although the union does not want its members’ pensions frozen, it is trying to negotiate a deal with the company that would still allow it to contribute at current rates.
“We are willing to work with the company to find ways that helps it reduce its liability and the plan’s volatility by possibly making changes in investment strategy or pension formula, but that expertise should be supplied by pension experts and investment professionals” Daraio said.
Standing with Guild members outside The Times Center were six members of the Labor Outreach Committee with Occupy Wall Street. A member of the outreach committee said she was participating in the “dignified silent protest” with the Newspaper Guild because it’s “99 Percent Pickets” day, the beginning of the buildup for a massive march and rally on May 1 coordinated by OWS and the city’s multiple unions.
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