We’ve received this email from our reporter friends at The Commercial Appeal who it seems have been stonewalled by management for way too long:
Several years ago, you signed a petition in support of workers at The Commercial Appeal. Now we need your help again.
The management of The Commercial Appeal has made its “final offer” in contract bargaining. They are demanding the unlimited right to fire everyone and outsource every job. The current contract says they CAN outsource work, but CAN’T fire the people who used to do it.
We are mobilizing the public to tell the company that they just can’t do this. You can help us out by joining our Facebook cause, which is here:
Once we have a critical mass of people involved, we’ll start taking actions to encourage the company to propose a better deal.
For now, please join the cause and ask all your friends to join. Thank you for your support!
President, Memphis Newspaper Guild
Even when I worked at the CA, I wouldn’t join the guild. I’ve got nothing against unions in general, but I always found the guild’s tactics too heavyhanded, their demands too unreasonable, their unwillingness to consider the big picture entirely unworthy of the term “journalists.” I know they were trying to safeguard my job; that’s much appreciated, I guess, but I was safeguarding it on my own by working my butt off and making sure I knew what was going on.
During one round of “negotiations,” a letter came around from the guild detailing management’s concerns and desires. I read it and thought, “Well, those sound reasonable.” Next the letter told us how the guild’s rep had pitched a screaming fit at the meeting over these very issues.
As a former Guild member, I understand your concerns, and I heard it back in the day when I was a member even. But if history teaches anything at 495 Union, it is that you have to pitch a screaming fit in negotiations to move the needed at all. It’s sad to say, but that’s a tradition of 30 years there.
In response to the posting by ExCA:
Our current Guild President took office in July of 2009 and the current leadership team certainly sees the big picture. In the past several months, our focus has been on saving jobs. When the company has proposed layoffs, the union has proposed numerous money saving alternatives, including temporary wage cuts. The company has rejected all these proposals and insisted on firing people, some with decades of service. Now the company is fighting for the right to outsource as many jobs as possible. The company could outsource an unlimited number of jobs to lower wage workers in Memphis, in other states and in India. The people who do this work now could be summarily fired and entire departments, including finance and customer service, could be wiped out. Our current contract says, the company can outsource work but can’t fire the people who do it now. In the newsroom, jobs would likely be outsourced to local freelancers who receive no health insurance and who are paid for each article they write rather than receiving a salary. People in this precarious financial position have no incentive to invest time in high-quality, complex journalism. Regardless of your views on unions or disagreements with past leadership of the Memphis Newspaper Guild, reasonable people will agree the potential loss of hundreds of jobs in the newsroom and other departments at the Commercial Appeal would be a blow to the Memphis economy and journalism.
Posted by office manager, Amy Olmstead on behalf of the Memphis Newspaper Guild
well, the memphis flyer is still around for news, I guess.