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 After the Guild filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), management rescinded its new restrictive access policy.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

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tribune Co. listening to offers for newspapers

By Robert Channick | Tribune reporter

Tribune Co. has hired two investment banks to manage offers to buy its newspapers, executives confirmed Tuesday afternoon, saying no decisions have been made about whether to sell any properties.

JPMorgan Chase and Evercore Partners will oversee a process to consider offers for Tribune Co.'s publishing assets,  including the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and six other daily newspapers. JPMorgan is a minority owner of Tribune Co.

Peter Liguori,Tribune CEO
Peter Liguori,Tribune CEO
"There is a lot of interest in our newspapers, which we haven't solicited," Gary Weitman, Tribune Co. spokesman, said in a statement. "Hiring outside financial advisers will help us determine whether that interest is credible, allow us to consider all of our options and fulfill our fiduciary responsibility to our shareholders and employees."

Chicago-based Tribune Co. emerged from four years in Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Dec. 31, owned by senior creditors Oaktree Capital Management, Angelo, Gordon & Co. and JPMorgan.  Television executive Peter Liguori was named the new chief executive of Tribune Co. last month.
WPIXLiguori's first month on the job has been focused on assessing Tribune Co.'s diverse media assets, including WPIX and 22 other television stations; national cable channel WGN America and WGN Radio. Newspaper holdings also include the Baltimore Sun, Hartford Courant and Orlando Sentinel. 

Despite its roots as a newspaper company, broadcasting has supplanted publishing as the core profit center for the company. Tribune Co.'s newspaper holdings have withered to $623 million in total value, according to financial adviser Lazard last year.  In 2006, entertainment mogul David Geffen made a $2 billion cash offer for the Los Angeles Times alone.

CNBC first reported that Tribune Co. had hired the investment bankers.

With a clean balance sheet and the company operating profitably, Liguori has said that there will be no "fire sale" of Tribune Co.'s newspapers. The move to hire investment banks to gauge interest is not inconsistent with Liguori's pledge to hear out offers from potential buyers.

Tribune Co.'s print properties are not the only major market newspapers potentially in play. Last week, the New York Times Co. announced that it plans to sell the Boston Globe and its related properties. Evercore Partners has been retained to advise on that process. | Twitter @RobertChannick

A Place at the Table: Actors' Equity Now Affiliated With AFL-CIO

By Kenneth Jones
26 Feb 2013 

Actors' Equity Association, the labor union representing more than 49,000 professional stage actors and stage managers in the U.S., received a national charter from the AFL-CIO on Feb. 26, giving AEA direct association with a wider community of labor leaders.

AEA Logo
The charter — given at the morning session of the AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting — means that Equity has direct affiliation with the AFL-CIO, giving the actors' union a seat at the labor table alongside major international unions like IATSE, top entertainment unions like SAG-AFTRA and many other labor unions in various industries across the country. The affiliation means Equity will be part of AFL-CIO's annual conferences, executive meetings and discussions concerning various issues — health, pension, wages, safe working conditions and more.

The "direct charter" makes AEA the 57th labor organization to receive the honor of formal association with the national federation of American unions.

Pictured (L-R): AFL Secretary Elizabeth Shuler, AEA E.D. Mary McColl, AEA 1st VP Paige Price, AFL President Richard Trumka, AFL VP Arlene Holt-Baker Photo: Julie Fletcher Photography - See more at:
Pictured (L-R): AFL Secretary Elizabeth Shuler, AEA E.D. Mary McColl, AEA 1st VP Paige Price, AFL President Richard Trumka, AFL VP Arlene Holt-Baker
Photo: Julie Fletcher Photography - See more at:
AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka presented the charter to AEA first vice president Paige Price and executive director Mary McColl at the AFL-CIO's annual executive council meeting.

"For nearly 100 years, Actors' Equity has stood for excellence in the American theatre, and for dignity, fairness and respect for stage actors and managers," AFL-CIO president Trumka said in a statement. "Today Equity has affirmed those values as well as its affiliation with all of American labor, and we are happy to be presenting this great union with a new AFL-CIO charter."

"As actors and stage managers one wouldn’t think of us as union members but Actors' Equity Association has a long and proud history of being part of the labor movement," said Equity president Nick Wyman in a statement addressed to the assembly. "It is a cornerstone of Equity's foundation and we are pleased to receive this direct charter in this, our 100th year. To quote our first president Francis Wilson, 'Our trail is out of the wilderness and that trail is affiliation with organized labor.'"

"This is an important milestone in Equity's history and we are proud to receive this direct charter," said AEA executive director Mary McColl. "Equity works to ensure fair compensation, benefits and safe working conditions for its members. By doing that, this Union joins our sister unions in the fight to maintain the dignity and rights for all working Americans."


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Banished by Blizzard: WPIX Reporter Dan Mannarino Misses Live Shots Due to Snowed-In Truck

By Jerry Barmash

It’s a worst case scenario for a reporter covering a blizzard–not having the ability to go live. However, snowstorms make difficult “partners.” WPIX newsman Dan Mannarino was all set for for his Saturday morning coverage until the accompanying live truck got snowed in.

Mannarino and the truck operator left New York City Friday night, taking four and a half hours to reach their destination in Suffolk County, which was expected to feel the brunt of the storm in our area. They arrived during the overnight hours in Commack, Exit 53 of the Long Island Expressway.

Related: FishbowlNY, Wragge Shines Through Blizzard in WCBS’ Mobile 2

PIX 11 Live Truck
WPIX began its blizzard “programming” at 7 a.m. with Mannarino planning to show viewers the unplowed highway. However, Mannarino and the truck operator split up to catch a few hours of sleep. The reporter went to a nearby hotel, while the driver stayed at his house a mile away. It turned out to be a serious error in judgment.

“In the morning he went to leave,” Mannarino tells FishbowlNY. “Taking the truck over to me, he drove two blocks and the truck got stuck on the side of the road.”

With two feet of snow and no plows in sights, the WPIX truck had no way of reaching Mannarino, meaning the live reporting would be scrapped.

But the conscientious reporter had no designs of spending the day in the hotel.

“I called the DPW [Department of Public Works] of that town and they came and sent a plow to get him out. That plow got stuck.” Mannarino says.

As the clock ticked down before his first shot in 45 minutes, Mannarino says a front loader was brought to the scene to remove mounds of snow. In the process, the plow was removed. The Channel 11 mobile unit, though, could not able to be extricated.

Now with a live truck and the rescuing plow casualties of the snowstorm, Mannarino took matters into his own hands. He walked several blocks to the L.I.E. where he shot some photos of abandoned vehicles on the snow-covered road.

“I did photo interviews from my location,”  Mannarino says. “Because that’s all I could do while the truck was being dug out… From where I was, there was 30 inches and I couldn’t bring that to the viewer. It was very frustrating.”

Finally, Mannarino was reunited with his truck for a live report at 6 p.m. on the Nesconset Highway in Lake Grove.

In summing up, it’s Mannarino’s feeling next time the two of them must be at the same location, even if it means going live from the hotel parking lot.

Former Staffer Alleges a String of Poor Decisions Made By Fox 5 Management

By Jerry Barmash on February 12, 2013 3:58 PM

The changes at WNYW/Channel 5 since last July could fill a book. While it has become a revolving door in the evening, one constant has been the “other anchor.”

Steve Lacy and Dari Alexander
That would be Dari Alexander, who keeps sitting on set at 5 and 10 p.m., no matter if it’s with Ernie Anastos, Greg Kelly, or Steve Lacy. Readers of FishbowlNY have been leaving comments since the summertime anchor debacle about her ability.

For example, last week, Alexander was caught inadvertently calling “sitting shiva” for Mayor Ed Koch as “shitting” shiva.

That led to these remarks on the posting:

Dari seems like a nice person, but speaking strictly on her work, she is easily the worst anchor in NYC. Completely [miscast].

Sad to say, she is horrible!

The sentiment about Alexander extends well beyond a handful disgruntled viewers.

A former colleague who worked with Alexander tells FishbowlNY that her work ethic was non-existent.

“I’ve never worked with anybody who does less preparation before she gets on the air.” [She] seems to not really care where the show is going next or what’s really happening. [Alexander] just seems to be absolutely unaffected and oblivious to the consequences of that,” the former colleague says. “It was so strange. I had never worked with anybody like that.”

Alexander, 43, began at Fox 5 as the 6 with Rick Folbaum. When Rosanna Scotto moved to mornings in 2008, Alexander was tabbed as the station’s lead female anchor on the 5p.m. and 10 p.m. opposite market icon Anastos.

One reason for her ascension, the former WNYW staffer contends, is her strong family ties with Fox.

“There’s an alliance there with her family and Roger Ailes. She is in his camp. She’s a personal project there.”

We reached out to WNYW. A spokesperson would not comment for the record.

Another person familiar with the management structure at Fox tells FishbowlNY that Ailes has a rotation of favorite talent, much like a recycling of baseball skippers.

“In his mind, Fox 5 is, for lack of a better term, a convenient dumping ground for people who can’t really cut it at the [Fox] News Channel, but he still wants to employ them for some other reason—some political alliance or some allegiance to somebody.”

There has been a laundry list of talent shuttled from FNC to Fox local. Kelly and Alexander worked for Ailes’ network. More recently, there was one-for-one “trade” sending Heather Nauert to the cable channel and Juliet Huddy to WNYW’s Good Day Early Call.

“Juliet Huddy — trust me — will that girl ever be unemployed in Roger Ailes world?” The source says, “Absolutely not!”

Other on-air personnel at Fox 5, the source says, is “some sort of stop gap measure or some sort of loose handed gamble that may or may not work.”

Greg Kelly and Rosanna Scotto
Kelly would definitely fall into the latter. His seven months, as FishbowlNY reported, at the top of WNYW anchor desk, was filled with internal squabbles with executives. He was sharply criticized for not bringing enough of a serious-minded newscast to prime time. Ultimately, our FishbowlNY readers stared into their crystal balls and called it correctly — Kelly was bounced from nights back to Good Day New York where Scotto was waiting with open arms last month.
But the source with ties to the situation says “absolutely, without question,” the only reason Kelly survived is because of dear old dad, the NYPD police commissioner, Ray Kelly.

“There are political and personal alliances and allegiances that go right to the top, and the people who are in that camp live by a completely different set of rules. They are held to a completely different standard,” the source says. “They are given much more of a safety net than anybody who comes through that place who might be a GM pick or a news director pick. 
Poor Steve Lacy, he’s just a good, solid news guy who is at risk of being sacrificed for the sake of someone more aligned with the powers. In that way, he was probably a station news director [Dianne Doctor] or GM [Lew Leone] pick.”
Kelly can also thank one other person for his morning resurrection — Dave Price.
“I think Greg was saved by Dave Price—[in] another interesting twist of fate,” the source close to the situation says. “Because I really think if Dave Price had been a total, huge success and had Greg continued to perform as he had on the 10, then it would have been a different story.”

Then the spin doctors at Fox would have found a new position for Kelly, the source intimates.
“Who knows what the hell they would have come up with; something to maybe give the impression that they were giving him a high profile job, but just not on the anchor desk.”

Dave Price and Rosanna Scotto
When the dominoes started falling last July, it was portrayed by WNYW that Price was some sort of savior for Good Day, which of course, never lost in the ratings to rival WPIX. And it was Leone, the source says, who was instrumental in Price’s return to WNYW.

“Given Lew’s affection for Dave, and Dave’s perceived talents and abilities for having been a national weather personality and host, [he] sort of thought, ‘We can really make this show number one now and then we can deal with Greg.’

“That had to be [Leone’s] decision. Did they give him that kind of latitude? I’m sure [Fox execs] Dennis Swanson and Jack Abernathy, like I would have thought on paper, it would have totally worked. Did they not try the guy out and put him on the set with Rosanna [for] a run-through?” the source adds.

All the while, Kelly was trying for his new look in the nighttime slot, solo at 6 p.m.and with Alexander at 10 p.m., the former newscast that had been home to Anastos.

“I can’t believe that [Kelly] thought he was the answer to replace Ernie when there was no lead-up or fanfare — nothing,” the source says.

The insider ponders what questions top executives failed to address before making the seismic TV shift.

“‘What’s the plan here for Ernie to retire? How do we artfully handle that so it doesn’t appear like we’re demoting a legend? Do we begin to put Greg in the nighttime slot when Ernie’s on vacation to get viewers used to seeing him in that format?’ [Did] any strategy go into making these decisions?” the source asks rhetorically.

Dari Alexander and Ernie Anastos
The source doesn’t expect Fox to turn the hands of time back for Anastos to recapture his 10 p.m. slot.

“I think they’re hoping that they can [win] with a good looking, standard, solid news anchor, [who has] just enough personality for a weather and sports toss, they can get back on track and that the [prime time] lead-ins will save their ass. They have that on their side.”

Kelly has apparently achieved good chemistry with Scotto in his five years on Good Day, minus the seven-month “furlough.” The source, though, points to his morning behavior that included “weird, angry outbursts.”

“Somebody who’s really that way, being good almost isn’t good enough. You have to be bad enough and almost in a satirical way. You need to become a trend on The Soup.”

The source is referring the E! clip show that gave Greg Kelly unfortunate national exposure.
“It’s the strangest phenomenon but the temper tantrums, throwing a phone, [and] yelling at staff members. [Kelly] seemed to be above reproach.”

Back to Kelly’s brief on-air partner, unlike those anchors with a bona fide bond, another former colleague recalls the sink or swim mentality of working with Alexander.

“You can defer to them and you know you’re not going to be hung out to dry. If you slip up and don’t know where you’re going at the moment, they’ll pick up the ball and help you out. That was not her at all. You really feel like you’re carrying her along.”

At some point, family connections aside, does Alexander ever become too much of a liability even for Ailes?

“I don’t know where the line is. I don’t know what their tolerance level is when it comes to performance,” the source says. “You wonder how closely they watch it and unless there’s attention brought to it by outside sources, and there’s some measurable impact, they just allow it to go on.

“For some reason [Alexander] just continues to get reinforcement that she’s a star,” the source contends. “It’s just un-freakin-believable.”

Thursday, February 7, 2013

CWA Spring Training For Journalists Feb 9, 2013

CWA is hosting a day of journalism/ new media training Saturday (Feb. 9) in Los Angeles, a stellar lineup of presenters on topics from story-boarding to using social media to covering healthcare reform.

It's free to CWA (NABET/ Guild) and low-cost to others.

Here's a link to the schedule:

Tell Bloomberg, No More Excuses!!

 Join Labor & Community in Telling Bloomberg

Over 8,000 hard working men and women have been on strike for 23 days and counting to protect their job security and in turn ensure the safe transportation of the 150,000 New York City children that ride their school buses each day. 

On Sunday, February 10th, Labor and community will join with ATU 1181 in a protest march over the Brooklyn Bridge culminating in a rally outside City Hall. Come join us in telling Mayor Bloomberg, NO MORE EXCUSES! Assemble 12:30pm at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn.

Click here to help us spread the word by sharing this image on Facebook.

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Join the Unity march & rally for ATU 1181 strikers on Sunday, Feb 10th click for more details. #schoolbusstrike #1u