Thursday, February 28, 2013

Amid company roadblocks, Guild okays $100k contract campaign at Scholastic

The Guild At Scholastic
In negotiations that began back in July, management has been demanding massive changes throughout our contract, all aimed at reducing compensation and eroding long-standing rights and protections that have given Scholastic its now questionable reputation as a decent employer.

For instance, management wants to have overtime pay begin after 40 hours worked in a week, instead of the current 35, a serious pay cut for many members. Overtime after 35 hours is a benefit that was won after a long, hard battle in the late 1980s. There is no reason management should be asking Guild-represented employees for this huge giveback.

Some of what management wants is both pernicious and petty. One proposal would snuff a little-used provision that requires the cash value of deceased employees’ unused vacation time to be paid to their survivors. Jay Krupin, a Scholastic outside attorney, actually laughed at the notion that members would be offended by the company’s denial of a few extra dollars to grieving families who have just lost a loved one and a breadwinner.

Management also continues to unilaterally reclassify employees, changing their job titles to deny them Guild protection and to reduce the size of the company’s Guild-represented workforce.

Management’s new anti-union strategy was illustrated by its recent attempt to limit the Guild’s access to members in the workplace, despite a long-standing practice of Guild reps visiting members at work. After the Guild filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), management rescinded its new restrictive access policy.

These are among many examples of management behavior that points to a dramatic change for the worse in its once-amicable relationship with Guild-represented employees.

In response, the New York Guild’s governing Executive Committee has approved a budget of up to $100,000 for what could potentially become a wide-ranging mobilization campaign aimed at winning a fair contract at Scholastic.

While the Guild bargaining committee hopes management will move off of its hardline stance, the availability of this funding should make clear that the Guild is determined to fight to make certain there is no erosion of jurisdiction, wages, benefits or working conditions at Scholastic.
Possible uses for the money include advertising, banners and buttons designed to create awareness that Scholastic management no longer values the employees who create the educational content used in schools across the country. The funds also may be used in joint efforts with teachers unions to inform schools and parents that Scholastic is no longer the worker-friendly employer we’ve come to know and respect for so many years.

“The committee felt $100,000 was enough at this time, if we decide to escalate our struggle at Scholastic,” said New York Guild President Bill O’Meara. “If it becomes apparent that we need more, we’ll revisit the matter.”

If management continues to insist on hurtful changes and givebacks, we are ready and willing to step up our efforts with a comprehensive, well-funded corporate campaign. With your help and support, your co-workers on the Guild bargaining committee will continue to fight for a fair and equitable agreement.

The next contract negotiating session is scheduled for February 28 at 1 p.m. at Scholastic. The negotiating committee welcomes any Guild members who would like to attend.

In Unity,

Your Scholastic Unit Bargaining Committee

Kathy Wilmore, Chair 

Winnie Whipple, Vice Chair 
Eric Russ 
Suzanne Bilyeu 
Bob Daraio, Local Representative

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