Monday, April 10, 2006

Sunday Night Wrap-Up

Hi gang,

Once again, the hand has slipped quickly around the clock face and I find myself out of time to do all the things I'd planned on writing earlier. So this'll be a brief post and I'll hopefully get the rest done soon.

To kick things off, let me just remind everyone to pay their April dues. I've filled out all the paperwork to begin the process of automatic payment, but it takes two pay periods for it to kick in on the company's part, so I'll let you know how it works as soon as they get it going for me. At the union conference I went to last weekend, several of the attendees from other papers reported they had a similar system for dues collection that worked like a charm. Fingers crossed, ours will be up and running soon.

In the meantime, if you haven't yet taken care of your April payments, you can make out a check to CWA 9400 for 2.25 times your hourly wage and mail it to:
CWA local 9400- attn: Vicki DiPaolo
7844 Rosecrans Ave.
Paramount, Ca. 90723

Thank you very much-- I really appreciate how supportive you've been and how faithful you've been about paying your dues. I know it can be a strain sometimes, but it really does go toward important things.

And speaking of which, I wanted to keep you guys in the loop on a situation that came up late last week. Human Resources sent out a memo on Thursday stating that we'd be switching to a new timecard that would precisely document what minute we arrived at work, when we left for lunch, how long we took, what time we returned and when we left at the end of the day. It would have essentially transformed the current system we have, which seems to work well for both employees and management, into a clock punching set-up.

This was an extraordinarily bad idea on many levels, but the most important reasons were that they ignored their responsibility to negotiate any change in working conditions with the union and that it showed no understanding of how the newsroom really works. While we appreciate their attempts to make sure everyone takes their breaks and doesn't get cheated out of their overtime, watching people minute-by-minute is not the way to do it, nor is trying to ignore the contract they signed just two months ago.

I laid out the union's concerns to Ron and he set up a meeting with human resources director Laurie Knight. We jointly expressed our reservations and pointed out the numerous ways that the plan would not be conducive to the way we work. She took note and said she didn't want to play havoc by implementing a new system. Eventually, she agreed to take the problems back to labor relations vice president Jim Janiga and said the minute-by-minute plan would be put on hold until we could all discuss the issues together. At this time, we're awaiting their response and I will keep you all apprised of it as soon as I hear.

Now let me be very clear here: the union isn't trying to stand in the way of the company's operations, we're merely protecting everyone from possible discipline and complications down the road. We believe in hard work and we're more than willing to do it-- but we also believe that we should be treated with respect and understanding.

If you take a long lunch to look for new stories or wrap up early to go meet with a source, we don't want some bean counter to look at your time card and decide that you shouldn't be paid for off-the-clock time. If you've got a heavy load one night and your editor tells you to take it easy the next day, we want to preserve that flexibility. We believe the current system allows people to work hard, get paid what they deserve and still have the ability to work within the confines of the job.

Luckily, discussions have been cordial so far and management within editorial seems to be open and supportive of ways to ensure people get treated fairly. We expect a swift resolution with no negative effects on the newsroom and hope the people who've made these decisions from afar will realize the need to work with us, rather than implementing policies that will gum up the works.

That's all for now. Thanks for listening-- more to come soon.



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