Friday, July 26, 2013

Red-Shirted N.Y. Newspaper Guild Members Jam Standard & Poor's Bargaining Session

Guild President Bill O'Meara addresses members who showed up to watch contract talks with S&P management on July 23. Seated at table are Guild Bargaining Committee members Lan Lecour (left) and Randye Gilliam, Guild unit chair. - See more at:  
July 25, 2013 The Newspaper Guild of New York
Guild members at S&P negotiations
With an overflow crowd of Guild members on hand -- despite Standard & Poor's best efforts to keep them out -- New York Guild negotiators this week restated the importance of employment and retirement security as both sides reviewed their respective positions after higher level principals from both sides joined the talks.

They came despite management obstacles

Guild members at S&P negotiations
With an overflow crowd of Guild members on hand, Guild negotiators on Tuesday restated the importance of employment and retirement security as both sides reviewed their respective, often conflicting positions after higher level principals from both sides joined the talks.
For the first time since negotiations began in March, S&P Guild members, many sporting red Guild T-shirts, came to watch their co-workers on the bargaining committee take part in the process that – subject to members’ ratification – eventually will determine their working conditions for the next few years.
Guild members at S&P negotiations
The turnout of some 60 Guild members for the talks at 55 Water St. came despite the best efforts of S&P management to deter observers from attending. After requesting on two occasions that the talks be moved to the midtown offices of its outside counsel, management negotiators abruptly moved the meeting from a very accessible conference room to one on a floor with no Guild-covered employees that most members cannot access and arrived 40 minutes late for the negotiations. 
Undaunted, members came anyway, jamming the small conference room while they listened to a summary of the status of the talks, current Guild proposals and the list of items on which there are tentative agreements.
Guild President Bill O'Meara addresses members
The members heard New York Guild President Bill O’Meara, who joined the talks for the first time, tell management, “We believe our longstanding good relations with S&P can continue and we believe we can reach an agreement that supports the continued success of the company, while protecting our members.”
O’Meara pointed out that “with the uncertain future of Social Security and the volatility of the stock market, a retirement plan that guarantees lifetime payments is key to retirement security for our members.” 
He said that the Guild has offered a number of alternatives to S&P’s proposal to trade Guild members’ defined benefit plan for a 401(k) plan. The Guild continues to offer ways to address the retirement plan issues and the Guild and its actuaries will continue to make every effort to help find a way to resolve the pension issue, O’Meara said.
Showing less willingness to find common ground was Bernard Plum, one of S&P’s more senior outside attorneys, who also joined the talks for the first time. “Any new collective bargaining agreement must include freezing the defined benefit pension plan and address bumping rights,” he declared.
Bernie Plum
Bernie Plum
Plum reiterated numerous times that “until there is substantial movement from the Guild on the company’s pension and job security proposals, there will be no movement on the Guild’s proposals.”
He dismissed some Guild proposals as unimportant distractions that “clog up the process and will go nowhere.” Plum dismissed Guild Representative Bob Daraio’s assertions that replacing experience-based pay step-increases with discretionary "merit" pay has not been successful and that members want the wage step-ups back as a “waste of time,” adding that S&P would not consider “going backward.”
Plum said, “bumping is very disruptive and it is unreasonable to expect S&P to go through months of inefficient job changes and retraining. The current process is unsustainable and inappropriate for any modern workplace.”
O’Meara responded by insisting that “job security is very important and bumping is rooted in fairness.” He said that “the Guild will continue to negotiate toward a solution and a fair and equitable collective bargaining agreement.”

The Guild Bargaining Committee would like to thank the members who came to observe the negotiations and remind everyone that observers are welcome at all bargaining sessions. Contact Randye Gilliam to get a Guild T-shirt, wear it and use it to cover the back of your office chair in solidarity with your Guild co-workers.
The next negotiating session will be at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6 at Proskauer, (management’s law firm), 11 Times Square (corner of 8th Avenue and 41st Street).  
Members wishing to observe the session must give their names to Randye Gilliam beforehand.