Thursday, May 23, 2013

GE Says: Thanks for the Profits, Your Job is Gone

UE Research and Education Fund

GE earned a whopping $8.4 billion in profit in 2012.  GE's CEO Jeffery Immelt chaired Obama's Jobs and Competitiveness Council, supposedly focused on the creation of good jobs in the US.  What GE says is that they are dedicated to reviving American manufacturing and our economy.  

GE Profits Equal Corporate Greed
But what GE has done is close 42 factories in the US in the last five years.  And GE introduced a competitive wage campaign to squeeze even more profit out of their workforce by cutting pay by as much as 50%.  At the same time GE's CEO got an 80% pay raise, earning $20.6 million in 2012.  
GE needs to be held accountable.  Please sign our petition to save good jobs.   

At a highly profitable locomotive factory in Erie, PA, GE announced they would eliminate nearly 1,000 jobs.  A portion of those jobs would move South to a non-union plant where workers earn 40% less under GE's new nationwide pay-cutting scheme. 

 Thank you!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Newspaper Monopoly That Lost Its Grip

The Times-Picayune

 “We are excited about this opportunity to extend our daily reach in print,” an advertising executive at the newspaper said in the announcement.

You don’t say.

This daily newspaper thing may be catching on. Last week,
The Philadelphia Inquirer
The Philadelphia Inquirer announced that it would begin selling a Saturday edition on newsstands after a nearly two-year hiatus.

The much ballyhooed unmaking of daily newspapering seems to be unmaking itself, and there’s a reason for that. Most newspapers have hung onto the ancient practice of embedding prose on a page and throwing it in people’s yards because that’s where the money and the customers are for the time being.

The industry tried chasing clicks for a while to win back fleeing advertisers, decided it was a fool’s errand and is now turning to customers for revenue. But in order to charge people for news, you have to prosecute journalism.

The belief that historic monopolies will hold together just on the basis of inertia has proved to be wrong. Newspapers that have cut their operations beyond usefulness or quit delivering a daily print presence have suffered. The audience has to be earned every day.

Newspaper publishing will never return to the 30 percent plus margins it once had, but some people believe there is a business model. Warren E. Buffett thinks that a 10 percent return is reasonable, now that sale prices have sunk.

Advance Publications
Clearly, commanding a market to change on a dime because it suits your business plan does not mean readers will obey. Just ask Advance Publications, owned by the Newhouse family, which is back to where it started in New Orleans with The Times-Picayune.

Times Picayune Layoffs
Except that the name Times-Picayune, which had stood for quality and civic constancy for decades, does not mean the same thing anymore. The vaunted Web site that was to be the lifeblood of the new enterprise remains a creaky mess, and the newsroom has been denuded of remarkably talented people.

Several of those people, including the two former managing editors of the newspapers, have gone to work for The Advocate, the Baton Rouge daily that has introduced a New Orleans edition. With a new, rich owner, it has taken aim at the market The Times-Picayune once owned.

Advance made its decisions up against some very dark trends in the business, but they were made with the dead-eyed arrogance of a monopolist in a much-changed world. Columbia Journalism Review described The Times-Picayune’s strategy of the last year as a “rolling disaster.” 

It’s been a jaw-dropping blunder to watch. Advance misjudged the marketplace — the whole city and state went ballistic when the changes were announced — and failed to execute a modern digital strategy. Now it is in full retreat with new competition.

The company endlessly complicated what had been a simple proposition that has worked since the newspaper’s founding in 1837: deliver a printed bundle of its best efforts every day for a fixed price. The new distribution plan is hard to explain, but I will do my best.

On Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, a broadsheet called The Times-Picayune will be available for home delivery and on the newsstands for 75 cents. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, a tabloid called TPStreet will be available only on newsstands for 75 cents.

In addition, a special electronic edition of TPStreet will be available to the three-day subscribers of the home-delivered newspaper. On Saturdays, there will be early print editions of the Sunday Times-Picayune with some breaking news and some Sunday content.

There’s more, but you get the idea — or not. It’s an array of products, frequencies and approaches that is difficult to explain, much less market.

The move was clearly defensive, unveiled the day before John Georges, the new owner of The Advocate, announced that it would expand its incursion into New Orleans. Since early fall, The Advocate has been publishing The New Orleans Advocate, with 20,000 subscribers.

Mr. Georges, a successful businessman who had less success running for governor of Louisiana and mayor of New Orleans, held a news conference on May 1 where he was accompanied by the governor, Bobby Jindal, and the mayor of New Orleans,  Mitch Landrieu. It was an indication that the home team had chosen sides and the once-beloved Times-Picayune was on the wrong side of the field.

Last July, Senator David Vitter, a Republican from Louisiana, wrote a brutal letter to Steven Newhouse, the chairman of Advance.

“From a pure business perspective, you’re about to get smoked,” Mr. Vitter wrote. “The Advocate and others are moving in to fill the void you are creating. And TP subscribers, including me, will be eager to cheer them on by trading our subscriptions.” 
The Advocate has never had the assets or the reputation that The Times-Picayune built up over the years, but the management of The Times-Picayune managed to create the one thing the paper never had before: actual competition.

“The Web site is still mysteriously frustrating for those who are interested in accessing the information we used to get in The Times-Picayune,” said Jed Horne, a former editor at The Times-Picayune who now works at The Lens, an online investigative news site in New Orleans.

“They promised a Tesla and it performs more like an Edsel,” he said. “Our hope is that we will be treated to an invigorating old-time press war between The Advocate and The Times-Picayune, but of course, it could end up being two dinosaurs fighting over the last mud hole on an overheated planet.”

Jim Amoss, the editor of Times-Picayune, said he is proud of the various products the paper is producing and believed he had the talent and the support from ownership to compete for attention. He suggested that journalists are far more obsessed over the particulars than the audience is.

“I try to take the approach that readers’ habits are changing all of the time,” he said, “and while I share the gut reaction from journalists whose world has been turned upside down, the appetites for news here is as voracious as it has ever been.”

Still, after the deep personnel losses, Mr. Amoss is increasingly the captain of a ghost ship.

That fact was etched with some degree of finality last week when The Advocate raided The Times-Picayune and hired Gordon Russell, former city editor and investigations reporter; Martha Carr (no relation), a veteran of the city desk; and two city reporters, Claire Galofaro and Andrew Vanacore. Collectively, the departures represented what the Gambit, a local weekly, called a “shock-and-awe hiring.” 

“I hate to see when talent walks out the door,” Mr. Amoss said. “But as I told the people here on the day that happened, I am incredibly proud of the people we have and the job we are doing.” (’s excellent coverage of a mass shooting on Sunday that injured about 17 people at a parade in the city demonstrated that the site still plays an important local role.)

Nevertheless, the raid served as a reminder that The Times-Picayune’s former monopoly over talent was a thing of the past. 

That doesn’t mean that The Advocate will have anywhere near the impact on New Orleans that The Times-Picayune once did, or that it will magically defy the laws of contemporary publishing economics. 

But it does suggest that Advance’s belief that it had New Orleans to itself and could do as it wished was deeply mistaken.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Newspaper Guild Represented Employees at WPIX Unanimously Ratify New Contract

The Newspaper Guild of New York Local 31003 CWA

May 8, 2013
The Guild is pleased to announce that it has signed a new three year contract agreement with WPIX management, having been ratified unanimously by the membership on Monday May 6.

WPIX Plaza
Two ratification meetings were held on Monday, May 6th in the 10th floor conference room at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The unanimous vote was taken by a show of hands as per the Guild's long-standing practice.
Major highlights of the agreement include:

$200 signing bonus for all full-time employees and most part-time employees.

Two percent (2%) wage increase for all full-time and part-time employees effective upon the first pay period following ratification, a two percent (2%) wage increase effective January 1, 2014, and a one and a half percent (1.5%) wage increase effective January 1, 2015. 

Joe Punday and Bob Daraio with New Guild/WPIX Contract
Guild Unit Chair, Joe Punday and Local Guild Rep, Bob Daraio with the new Guild/WPIX Contract

 Dinner money increases to $15

Minimum wage increase upon being promoted increases to twenty dollars per week ($20) from the current $10.

Severance will be computed at the terminated employee’s highest weekly base salary rather than current base salary in return for signing a separation agreement

Night travel allowance increases from $18 to $20.

Requirement to work a minimum of four hours between 12:01am and 6:59am eliminated. Any hours worked during those hours will earn the 15% Night Differential pay.

Higher Classification: $5.00 increase for each per shift upgrade, except graphic artists, whose current upgrade pay will continue.

Mileage increases to $.42/mile with further increases “as per Company policy”

Military leave includes Reserve and National Guard; Company shall pay the difference between an employee’s military pay and their regular base pay while they are on active service.

Current short term disability (STD) plan will be replaced with Company’s STD policy including conversion of sick pay to STD program. 

Any unused sick leave days remaining at the end of a calendar year may not be carried over to the next year, however, the Company shall convert any unused sick leave days remaining to a disability bank of up to 20 full disability pay days, which will substitute for partial short-term disability pay or long term disability pay should an employee be out on such leave.

Current health plan will be replaced with Company’s medical plan, which will potentially reduce premiums as much as between 1% and 2% of pay, depending on the type of coverage chosen. All supplemental insurance plans will now be available to Guild-represented WPIX employees. 

The company agrees to contribute an amount equal to one percent (1%) of a part time employee’s monthly wages to the Entertainment Industry Flex Plan (“EIFP”) on behalf of all part time employees that worked at least 500 hours in the preceding year.

Minimum wages will now be based on maximum top of weekly scale with exception for News Assistants, whose wages will remain based on applicable minimums.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Newspaper Guild Issues Statement About Tribune, Koch brothers and Objective News

QTNG Quote

“We call on Tribune to make a pledge that they’ll only sell to a buyer that will protect the objectivity of the news product by making a public commitment to doing so,” say the Newspaper Guild and Communications Workers of America.

The Newspaper Guild logo
The Newspaper Guild & Communications Workers of America Call on Tribune Company to Protect Newspapers’ Integrity as Sale Proceeds

Recently you’ve seen many petitions asking that the Koch brothers not be allowed to buy the Tribune Company’s newspapers. We understand why the Kochs breed this distrust. They are active political proponents of harsh right-wing positions. We’re also not certain that Tribune will listen to anything but money when the final decision is made.
What we do know is that great papers publish credible, trusted journalism online and on the printed page. Whoever comes to own these mastheads needs to understand that protecting newsrooms from ideological taint is no small thing. The future of American journalism depends on the ability to print truth, not opinion.
We call on Tribune to make a pledge that they’ll only sell to a buyer that will protect the objectivity of the news product by making a public commitment to doing so. The Newspaper Guild-CWA and the Communications Workers of America seek your support in this goal.
The Newspaper Guild
Communications Workers of America
501 Third Street N.W Washington, D.C.