Michael Amon

The 406 411

Contract passes
June 27, 2010

The transportation, editorial and pressroom passed the contract. CORRECTION: All aspects take effect tomorrow, Monday, except for the pay cut, which starts on July 6.


Note from Zack and Liisa: Vote yes
June 25, 2010

Dear editorial members of Local 406,

Zack and I have prepared an explanation of why we must vote yes on our contract proposal. It has as much to do with our circumstances as it does the proposal. We had our letter lawyered by our attorney Tom Lilly to give you the most accurate information possible. This is not opinon or conjecture. These are the facts. Our whole contract is at stake. Cheers, Liisa

Editorial members of Local 406:

The time has come to say yes to the latest contract proposal. There are very practical reasons for voting for the editorial Memorandum of Agreement on Sunday, June 27.

1. We have no contract. It has expired along with all of its protections until we vote yes on this proposal. Once the proposal is approved, the whole contract will remain in force until April 1, 2013.

If the proposal fails, and if we wind up at impasse, we will have no contract and the company can implement those portions of its last proposal, the Memorandum of Agreement, that it wants to implement.

2. Impasse is not a cozy rest period where we go back to the table and renew talks as if nothing significant has occurred. In fact, during impasse, the parties are not obliged to talk until one side indicates a willingness to move from its position. While we could challenge the declaration and wait for the National Labor Relations Board to file a complaint against Newsday, at any time after declaration it can elect to change work rules because the system is weighted in favor of the company.

It is required to approach us to negotiate any non-MOA-related changes managers want to implement and it can declare impasse on those issues and implement their plan anyway after we reach impasse.

If the contract is voted down, look for some of the work rule changes that the company proposed in the first memorandum of agreement: the 40-hour work week, elimination of seniority, less vacation, and possibly others including no guarantee that people will not be terminated without just cause, a provision of Section 12 of the contract concerning disciplinary action. If you think seniority protection is only for older employees, think again. The company could make mid-career and younger workers disposable regardless of tenure at Newsday.

3. Without a contract, we have no right to arbitration. Binding arbitration is a vital means for keeping the company honest and in adherence to the conditions we agreed to in the contract, the conditions that have made working at Newsday what we know them to be.

It is a forum where a neutral party hears both sides and renders a decision based on a reading of the contract and labor law. The device keeps the company talking to us when we disagree on a host of issues including work rules and employee discipline. Many of our victories over vagaries in the language of the contract and arbitrary policy changes made by the company have been won across an arbitrator’s table.

Without arbitration, we have no way of policing the company’s excesses or violations of the contract. In the absence of a contract, issues are handled by the National Labor Relations Board, which has limited power and may not resolve our conflicts in a timely fashion.

4. With or without the contract, there will be a 5 percent pay reduction. We recommend voting yes on the proposal and keeping the protection of a contract and the benefits we managed to squeeze out of the company, such as the sixth day overtime provision, the cap on the percentage we pay toward medical insurance premiums, the job development language and the severance package that provides up to 52 weeks in the event of a layoff, and a three-year term in which the company must follow the terms of the contract.

At the negotiating session Friday, June 18, the company added the 1 percent defined contribution retirement plan and then announced that it had given Local 406 its “last, best and final offer.” Company negotiators said that if it is not accepted, they will consider us at impasse. The process has shifted away from bargaining to another posture; our choice is to ratify what we have or get ready to take the relationship to a new level, which could include labor actions.

We must get practical. We are working with an expired contract, so the vote is not just about the proposal, but also about the whole contract.

5. The company has indicated in writing and across the table that it will declare an impasse. Of course, we can dispute whether we are at impasse, but those fights can drag out and, in the interim, our contract is at risk.

6. We should not harbor a false sense of security that anything we perceive as wrong will be corrected quickly — or at all — by the NLRB, as the board’s decisions are subject to appeal and matters may go to trial before a federal judge. The process can be long and arduous with no guarantee of success. We also would have to pay the legal bills to fight the company.

Knowing what I know about the economy and the people we work with, we can’t in good conscience encourage people to take positions that could cause them to risk their jobs or incomes in order to block the imposition of a 5 percent pay cut that would be imposed anyway. The only practical solution is to vote for the contract proposal.

We salute you all for holding fast through these past six months. Wearing the 473-10 button at the table was a gentle, but constant reminder to management that it was not just talking with the negotiating committee. More than once, Liisa tapped it to make a point. The power of the first ratification vote, and to a lesser extent the second one, has helped us recover most of what we lost when the first memorandum of agreement was signed in the dead of night.

Voting for this proposal is not a denial of anger or an acceptance of being victims. Anger is both appropriate and healthy. With its bad behavior, the company has burned through 40 years of trust that had developed between Local 406 and the company. However, our anger cannot prevent us from acting in our own best interest. We must act to give ourselves the protection of our contract, and then turn our anger to constructive action.

Please vote yes on the Editorial Memorandum of Agreement between 9 and 11 a.m. Sunday, June 27.

Liisa and Zack


Strike authorization vote Monday if contract fails
June 21, 2010

If the Memorandum of Agreement with the company does not pass on Sunday, a strike authorization vote has been planned for Monday, June 28. It will be from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the VFW Hall in Wheatley Heights on Colonial Springs Road. At issue is whether to authorize leadership to call a strike. Voting yes would not mean that we are immediately on the street. But it would give leadership the ability to call a strike if needed.

So the stakes of Sunday’s vote are heightened.


Voting, in person and absentee
June 21, 2010

Hey folks,
Here’s some information on voting on Sunday.

It’s in the same place: the Knights of Columbus Hall, at 400 South Broadway, in Lindenhurst. Here are directions from Newsday: Go south on Pinelawn as it turns into Wellwood Avenue for about 6 miles. Turn right onto Hoffman Avenue, the section of it that is south of the railroad tracks (that means you go past the tracks if you’re coming from Newsday). Drive two more blocks and turn left onto Broadway at the Railroad Bar. The Knights of Columbus Hall is on your left after about a half-mile.

Each unit is voting separately. Here are the times.

Transportation: 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Editorial: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Pressroom: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Building Maintenance, Platemaking and EPR: 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

You can vote by absentee ballot if you are on vacation or on assignment on Sunday. Here are Liisa May’s instructions for absentee voting: Call Sue, the office manager, at 516-293-6868 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to let her know when you will be there, or if you can’t make it during those hours to arrange a time. She will contact one of the officers to meet you and give you a ballot which you will cast right there.
Where: Union offices, 246 Conklin St., 2nd floor. Farmingdale. (Turn west off Route 110. Cross Merits Road and start looking for a Citibank on the left. The office is a house just beyond the bank. It is east of Main Street. The 406 office is upstairs. Ring the bell or call Sue at 516-293-6868.)

The Executive Board and the International recommend that the membership vote yes on this contract. I concur.


New agreement reached
June 18, 2010

Local 406 and Newsday management have reached agreement on terms for a new contract. It is the same Memorandum of Agreement that Local 406 voted on June 6, but with an addendum outlining a one percent contribution from the company to our 401ks. The addendum can be viewed by clicking here. Sorry I didn’t get this up sooner. I wasn’t in the office.

See the letter below from Zack and Liisa for more details.

From: Liisa M. May and Zach Dowdy
To: Newsroom members of Local 406 GCC/IBT

Dear members,
We now have the “final, last, best” offer from the company, a side letter to the current memorandum of agreement offering a 1 percent defined contribution retirement plan contribution starting in 2013.

We will vote on the same memorandum of agreement plus the offer-letter on June 27.

We will be voting at the same location in Lindenhurst, the Knights of Columbus Hall, at 400 South Broadway. The newsroom unit will vote between 9 and 11 a.m.

Everyone must vote. Absentee ballots will be available at the 406 office on Monday.

Once again, I am recommending that the proposal be approved.

Attached is a copy of the side letter that was signed this morning.

On Monday, I will be distributing a packet with fresh copies of the memorandum, the offer letter and other details of the vote.

Zach and I were the only newsroom representatives (union or management) present during discussions Friday morning. If you have questions, please ask either of us.

Liisa and Zack


What we’ve lost over the years
June 17, 2010

An astute colleague passed this on. It’s a comprehensive list of all the givebacks this union has made going back several years. Kind of depressing but I think it’s good to post this on the eve of the union’s talks with Newsday. We’ve given up much.

— Newsday wants to cut our pay. But we’ve already lost compensation through a significant loss in benefits, which are calculated as part of the pay package.

Here’s what’s happened to Editorial’s benefits since 2005:

* Times-Mirror defined benefit pension plan frozen
* Company match to our 401K eliminated
* 25 percent cap lifted on our share of the health insurance premium
* Up to 26 weeks paid sick leave eliminated
* Time-and-one-half overtime pay replaced with straight time for hours 36 through 40 hours
* Time-and-one-half overtime pay for a sixth day replaced with straight time
* Time-and-one-half overtime pay for off-duty work replaced by straight time
* Required four hours of pay or overtime, whichever was greater, eliminated for employees called back to work after leaving Newsday
* Weekly pay check eliminated, allowing the company to save money by paying us every two weeks
* Fifth week of vacation eliminated for all workers who had not reached their 20th anniversary by Dec, 2007
* Contractual buy-out package eliminated
* Contractual severance pay eliminated
* Contractual bereavement and military leave eliminated
* Comp days for hourly workers eliminated (though management still offers off-the-books deals)
* Ccntractual language waived that would have resulted in extra pay for working four weekend days a year
* Special salary supplement eliminated for workers disabled by RSI

Here is our resulting benefit package:

No pension benefits
Six paid holidays (such as Christmas and Memorial Day)
Six paid sick days a year
Five personal days
Up to four weeks vacation at 10 years of service
We pay more than 30 percent of our health care premium; $138.75 to $145.42 a month for singles and $475.71 and $507.37 a month for families — as much as a 36 percent increase over last year. We also pay a $25 co-pay to see a family doctor and a $40 co-pay for specialists.

We get less than Cablevision employees, according to the Cablevision employee handbook. Here’s what Cablevision employees get:

Cash Balance pension plan, to which the company contributes based on age and pay at the end of every work year
Up to 3 percent company match to 401K
Ten years complimentary Cablevision service to retirees
Ten paid holidays a year
Ten paid sick days a year
Three personal days
Up to four weeks vacation after 6 years of service
Health plan costs unknown at this time

(for what it’s worth, Nassau County union employees pay no percentage share of their health insurance premium and co-pays are $20 for all doctor visits.)


Contract talks scheduled for Friday
June 15, 2010

George Tedeschi and the Local 406 executive board are meeting with Newsday Publisher Terry Jimenez on Friday to talk about the contract proposal. While Jimenez has said the company’s “last, best, final offer” is on the table, Local 406 maintains there is still much to talk about. See Zack or Liisa for details in the coming days.


Local 406’s response to Jimenez’s impasse threat; union requests presence of federal mediator
June 15, 2010

This letter was sent to Newsday publisher Terry Jimenez today.

Dear Terry:

I was surprised and disappointed to receive your letter of June 10, 2010 retroactively labeling Newsday’s previous set of proposals a “last, best and final offer,” and suddenly pronouncing that “the parties are at impasse.” Your sudden declaration of impasse is totally unfounded.

There is no reason for Newsday to believe that further negotiations with Local 406 will not be productive. For its part, the Union intends to be flexible, and intends to present new proposals. We expect Newsday to consider our proposals in good faith in compliance with the law. As you know, we have already indicated a willingness to make significant concessions in these negotiations. Newsday’s sudden and unjustified pronouncement of impasse is not constructive to our good faith attempts to reach an agreement.

In addition, after the ratification vote, a federal mediator contacted both Newsday and Local 406 offering to assist us in the negotiation process. Local 406 believes we should utilize the federal mediator. Certainly neither side should give up on bargaining before even involving a federal mediator.

I, along with Local 406’s negotiating team, look forward to meeting with Newsday’s negotiating team in the very near future to continue good faith negotiations toward an agreement that the membership will ratify.


Michael O’Connor


Letter from Terry Jimenez
June 10, 2010

I want to reiterate my appreciation for all of the time and effort given by the Union’s bargaining committee during our negotiations over the last seven months.

However, given the circumstances, this letter is to advise you that the terms contained in the Memorandum of Agreement for each bargaining unit constitute Newsday’s last, best and final offer. Unless Local 406 informs me, in writing, by 5:00 p.m., July 5, 2010, that a binding collective bargaining agreement exists between Newsday and Local 406 based on the terms contained in each Memorandum of Agreement signed on or about May 18, 2010, the parties are at an impasse with regard to each bargaining unit failing to do so.

Please note that once at impasse, Newsday has the right to implement all or selected parts of each Memorandum of Agreement.

While you have our last, best and final offer, as a courtesy to the Local and the International, we will make ourselves available for a meeting to discuss any questions you may have.


Terry Jimenez


Note from Zack and Liisa
June 10, 2010

Dear members:

GCC/IBT President George Tedeschi has sent Newsday a formal letter requesting a third round of talks to create a pact that could be ratified. But the company has not yet responded or indicated when its negotiators would be ready to meet again. As you know, all six bargaining units voted on Sunday, June 6 against a second set of memorandums of agreement that would have formed the contracts that govern relations between the union and company for three years.

We will let you know about any developments as soon as possible. We will post updates on the 406 411 blog (https://michaelamon.wordpress.com/the-406-411/).

In the meantime, if you have questions or concerns, please speak to us.

Zack and Liisa


No news
June 9, 2010

Local 406 has contacted Newsday management and requested a date to restart contract talks. We haven’t heard back yet. A lot of people have been asking for an update, and this is all I got. The next step is going back to the table.


Vote tally
June 6, 2010

331 against
139 for


Statement from George Tedeschi
June 6, 2010

The vote from the members was one of disappointment at the company seeking concessions at a time when we feel they aren’t losing money, though we concede it is not making a lot. We as union members, as we have always done in the past, will work with the company to assure its success and profitability. But we feel at this time the company wanted concessions without giving consideration to the needs of its workforce. In the past, when concessions were given, it was done with an attitude toward a partnership. That did not happen this time. This union is prepared to go back to the table and work toward an amicable resolution in obtaining new contracts. The end result, the vote, not only showed disappointment with the company but also the solidarity of all the union members sticking together.

George Tedeschi
Graphic Communications Conference/International Brotherhood of Teamsters


The Vote
June 6, 2010

UPDATE 3:25 p.m.: All units voted against the contract.

As of 2:20 p.m., the pressroom, editorial and transportation had voted down the proposed contract. Will update when the other units vote.


Voters Guide
June 4, 2010

Dear Everyone:

Here’s some information before you vote. It’s presented as objectively as I can muster on so personal an issue. And you should know it forms the basis for my inclination to vote Yes on the contract proposal. That said, I’m going to listen to what George Tedeschi has to say on Sunday morning and weigh his counsel along with my own research before I make a final decision.

Some of this will not be new to many of you. If I’m burying the lede, forgive me this once. I just wanted to pull this together and put in one place, as a resource before the vote.

Newsday’s Finances: Local 406 believes Newsday is making money. An accountant we hired to examine Cablevision’s S.E.C. reports puts the company’s cash flow at $16 million in 2009, which means $16 million more money came in than went out. Newsday claims it lost $12 million, saying one-time expenses took big bites out of the cash flow. But eventually the company stopped disputing its profits during negotiations. Whatever you believe, Newsday is nowhere near bankruptcy, as are some other papers that have asked for big concessions from employees (Denver Post, San Jose Merc, Chicago Sun-Times). Nor will it ever go out of business with a fantastically rich parent company with others who have a sentimental attachment to the paper. In my mind, there is no doubt Newsday made money in 2009. Otherwise, it would have opened its financials for independent review.

Still, Newsday is not a flourishing business. In 2005, its revenues were above $500 million, with profits around $80 million. In 2009, they were about $240 million, with disputed profits of about $16 million. That drop in revenue occurred during good economic times and bad. It represents a structural change in the industry and the wholesale flight of advertising dollars to other media. It’s not something that will change overnight with a bullish economy, at least if you believe independent financial analysts, and I have no reason not to. And while I have posted information on the blog from analysts predicting positive cash flow at Newsday far into the future, it’s worth pointing out that those predictions are based on falling expenses – ie, lower labor costs, among other things.

The Union’s Givebacks: 5% wage cuts across the board in all units except Transportation, which gets a 10% pay cut. In editorial, the union-to-management ratio changes from 80%/20% to 77%/23%. In the pressroom, workers are giving up the attendance bonus, which amounts to about a week’s pay. In Transportation, there is a negotiated consolidation of routes resulting in the layoffs of about 15 drivers over three years.

Newsday’s Concessions (such as they are): There will be a buyout offered before any layoffs, with one week of pay offered for every six months of service, up to 52 weeks. This is written into the contract and cannot be changed on management’s whim. In the past, buyout language was tied to the management handbook, which they could change at any time. In editorial, workers eligible for overtime will get time-and-a-half for all hours worked on a 6th day.

Other Recent Newspaper Union Contracts:
Reuters-New York
Company finances: According to the Newspaper Guild, Thomson Reuters had profits of $2.75 billion on operating revenues of $12.95 billion in 2009.
Contract: After negotiating for about a year with the Newspaper Guild, which represents about 4,000 New York employees, the company declared impasse in Februrary 2010 and instituted pay cuts of up to 10 percent, according to the union. Thomson Reuters said it was actually increasing pay by an average of 0.5 percent but it appears the company’s figures included merit raises for favored employees. The union filed unfair labor practice charges against Thomson Reuters with the National Labor Relations Board, arguing the impasse was illegal. It’s still tied up in court.

The Washington Post newspaper.

Company losses: $24.9 million in losses in 2008. This is at the newspaper alone, not the Washington Post Company, which is profitable.
Contract: The guild approved in June a two-year contract with no pay cut. Employees received lump sum payments of $1,000 and $600 in lieu of a wage increase. However, seniority was eviscerated- the language now allows up to 25% of layoffs to be decided by factors other than seniority.

New York Times Co.
Company losses: Its 18 newspapers lost $70 million in the first three quarters of 2009. It’s unknown whether the New York Times newspaper is losing money itself. The Boston Globe was said to lose $50 million in 2008. Impasse was declared last year after the union rejected a contract with massive pay cuts and other givebacks.
Contract at NYT newspaper: Members agreed to open an existing contract in May and take a temporary 5% pay cut. In return, they received two weeks extra vacation.
Contract at Globe: 6% pay cut. Mandatory furlough equal to a 2 percent pay cut. 2 days vacation cut. A pension freeze. Deep cuts in benefits. $14,300 in cuts per employee.

San Jose Mercury News

Company losses: Unknown, but its owner MediaNews, is in bankruptcy.
Contract: 9% pay cut. Possible week-long furlough (2 percent). Loss of a week vacation (new vacation system: two weeks for those with less than two years of service; three weeks for two to nine years of service; four weeks for more than nine years of service. Still more generous system then Newsday’s under both our current or proposed system)

Indianapolis Star

Company losses: Unknown, but union got to look at the books.
Contract: 10% pay cut. Union members voted to reject a 12% pay cut several months prior to current agreement. No other reported concessions.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Company losses: $900,000 operating loss.
Contract: Union agreed to reopen contract last year. 6.6% pay cut in exchange for a temporary no layoff guarantee.

Chicago Sun-Times
Company losses: Unknown, but the company is in bankruptcy.
Contract: 15%t pay cut. Loss of pension and seniority rules.

Denver Post
Company losses: unknown, but it is owned by MediaNews – currently in bankruptcy. Further, the contract was approved when the paper’s fortunes were tied to the Rocky Mountain News, with which it was in a JOA. The News subsequently folded.
Contract: 7% wage reduction. 7 days furlough. Reduced differentials, reduced employer contributions to health care and mileage reimbursement. No 401k match. Loss of negotiated wage increase in 2010. However, a bounceback provision allows the restoration of wages, vacation and benefit contributions should the paper return to profitability.

St. Paul Pioneer Press

Company losses: Unknown, but MediaNews is in bankruptcy and says the PiPress is losing money.
Contract: It has not been ratified yet. Proposal cuts pay 9 to 10% by reducing the workweek from 40 hours to 37.5, forcing a one-week furlough, eliminating their company 401(k) match. Loss of negotiated wage increase in 2010.

Lines in the Sand: We all remember the contract we rejected in January – 10 percent pay cut, loss of one week of vacation, a longer work-week, a 20 percent reduction in mileage reimbursement, outsourcing of transportation routes. After the resounding 473-10 No vote, Newsday went back to the table with Local 406 and gradually began giving up on most of those changes. But management drew a line at a 5 percent pay cut and, for mysterious reasons, the change in the union-management makeup of the newsroom.

The union drew its own lines the sand, though. Seniority language would not be changed in editorial, though management wanted that badly, and those discussions went down to the wire. Buyout language would be included in the contract, or there would be no agreement. And transportation routes would not be outsourced.

In the face of overwhelming pressure for givebacks from the company, the union held the line on job security as much as possible.

The Consequences of Voting Yes: First, we all take a heavy pay cut. It would take effect on Monday. You all know how that will affect you personally. Second, we take a gamble: that a better contract won’t be negotiated even if we resoundingly vote no for a second time.

The Consequences of Voting No: You have heard the dire predictions. Impasse. Layoffs. Unilateral pay cuts. Work rules. It’s impossible to say what, if any of that, will come to pass. One thing is certain. With a no vote, our contracts and the protections within are no longer worth the paper they’re printed on after June 6. Each unit’s livelihood, and each member’s, will depend on the smarts of our union, management’s appetite for a fight, and our own collective resolve.

So, big risks all around. No fun either way. My only advice is consider this carefully and, if you can, lend an ear to our union leaders on Sunday morning before you vote.


Update on Sunday’s ratification vote
June 2, 2010

If you haven’t heard, here are the details on Sunday’s ratification vote.

First, it is not in the same place as last time. It is in the Knights of Columbus building in Lindenhurst. The address is 400 South Broadway. To get there from the Newsday building, go south on Pinelawn Road for about 6 miles (it becomes Wellwood Avenue). In Lindenhurst, turn right at Hoffman Avenue, which runs parallel to the LIRR tracks. Then take the third left onto South Broadway. The Knights of Columbus is about half-mile farther south, on the left.

Each unit will vote during separate 90-minute blocks of time. Everyone’s vote will be counted, no matter how the preceding unit voted.

Pressroom: 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Editorial: 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Transportation: 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Building Maintenance: 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.
E.P.R.: 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Platemarking: 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.

If your schedule requires you to be early, come early and seek out a union officer there and we should be able to accommodate your vote. Don’t be late, though.

George Tedeschi, GCC president and lead negotiator, will address each unit separately during their voting time. Although many of you have made up your minds, it may be worth listening to him before you cast your ballot.

Each unit is voting for its own contract. If a majority of the pressroom votes no but a majority in editorial votes yes, then editorial has a contract while the pressroom does not.

You can vote by absentee ballot if you are on vacation or on assignment on Sunday. Here are Liisa May’s instructions: Call Sue, the office manager, at 516-293-6868 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to let her know when you will be there, or if you can’t make it during those hours to arrange a time. She will contact one of the officers to meet you and give you a ballot which you will cast right there.
Where: Union offices, 246 Conklin St., 2nd floor. Farmingdale. (Turn west off Route 110. Cross Merits Road and start looking for a Citibank on the left. The office is a house just beyond the bank. It is east of Main Street. The 406 office is upstairs. Ring the bell or call Sue at 516-293-6868.)

I will post the results of each vote on this blog as soon as I know them.

Please vote. I know traveling to Lindenhurst on a Sunday morning is an annoying hardship, but your vote will matter and could make the difference.


Editorial Unit Meeting on Thursday; update on general meeting Tuesday
May 19, 2010

You may have already seen this, in e-mails, on Facebook, Twitter, etc. But just a reminder: There will be a meeting for the editorial unit to discuss the contract proposal on Thursday, at 6 p.m., in the pressroom cafeteria. Zack and Liisa will take questions. It’s an important meeting, so if you can spare the time, I think you should go.

I also wanted to write just a short bit about the general monthly meeting yesterday, Tuesday. The group of mostly truck drivers asked a lot of tough questions – including most of the queries posed in editorial recently, in e-mails and face-to-face. There were many comments critical of the contract proposal, but also many positive ones. Judy Bernstein and Hye Jeong were there from the copy desk, along with Zack and me. Feel free to seek us out if you have questions about the meeting.

One of the big questions everyone is asking, and that was addressed in the meeting, is: what happens if we vote down this contract. I encourage people to ask that of Zack and Liisa on Thursday, but I’ll address it here quickly. The answer is, no one knows for sure. There are some possibilities, which I’d feel more comfortable discussing in person. But no one – Zack, Liisa, George – knows exactly how Newsday will react, nor does the company know how the union would respond to a provocation. What a No vote does do is take union-management relations to another level, a place neither has been before at this newspaper. All contracts will be expired. Talks have gone on for about six months. Drastic measures illegal while a contract was in force would become permissible. Of course, approving a contract that could set a terrible precedent has its own risks. Either way you vote, you will be making an educated gamble.

I hope to see you at the meeting.


General meeting on Tuesday
May 17, 2010

Hey everyone
The monthly general membership meeting is tomorrow, Tuesday, May 18, at 8 a.m. in the basement of the VFW Hall on Colonial Springs Road in Wheatley Heights. Everyone is welcome to attend. Although it is early in the morning, there’s a lot of information to be had, a lot of good questions, a lot of frank discussion. I will blog what I can out of it, but I’m not always comfortable publishing everything we talk about.

As always, feel free to call me (516-780-5581) or write me for updates.


New Memorandum of Agreement terms
May 12, 2010

Hey everyone,
Local 406’s executive board held a meeting with vice-stewards like myself last night in Farmingdale to discuss the new contract, aka, memorandum of agreement, with Newsday.

For those who haven’t yet heard, here’s the deal in editorial.

– 5 percent pay cut.
– Management will compose 23 percent of the newsroom staff, up from 20 percent.
– In the event of a buyout, the separation package will include 1 week of pay for every six months of service, up to 52 weeks of pay. This is written into the contract and cannot be changed on management’s whim.
– When you work a 6th day, you will be paid time-and-a-half each hour. Currently, you get straight time for the first five hours unless you’ve worked other OT during the week.
– The company agreed to train employees on new equipment and software that has been or is scheduled to be placed into regular daily production. Sounds obvious, but it really needed to be in the contract because it hadn’t been happening.
– Medical coverage – the employee percentage of premiums will not increase. Doesn’t mean premiums won’t go up, but the ratio we split with the company remains the same for three years.
– The union agreed to drop a grievance filed over Newsday’s change to the disability policy last year.
– The agreement commences on the date of ratification (it is NOT retroactive) and expires on April 1, 2013.
– A controversial item in the contract is the last – Local 406 executive board members are bound to recommend the contract for ratification and to vote in favor. Personally, this doesn’t upset me much. The executive board did their best to come to an agreement with Newsday. They shook hands on a deal. This item just codifies the idea that the agreement was made in good faith.

In the transportation department, they are taking a 10 percent paycut and consolidating some routes, a move that may result in driver layoffs. In the pressroom and other units, they’re taking a five percent paycut and making other financial givebacks unique to their departments.

Vacation, seniority, the length of the work week and reimbursement for mileage all remain the same.

A vote will soon be announced for June 6.

The terms are better than the contract we rejected in January. But a 5 percent pay cut is hard to swallow, especially when Newsday refused to open its books to the union and prove it was losing money. Union leaders last night said they remain convinced Newsday is a profitable company.

Union leaders last night said they made the agreement – despite past promises of no financial concessions without seeing Newsday’s business losses – because they felt Newsday would not move off of 5 percent. It is seen as the price of avoiding a costly labor battle. Vice stewards had a lot of tough questions for the executive board and some wondered if now was the time to fight. Those issues are yet to be settled.

Although the executive board is bound to recommend the contract for ratification, I am bound to no such rules, nor is this website. I haven’t made up my mind yet about how I’m voting, but I will let you know when I do. I’m looking forward to hearing from all of you.

There should be a meeting in the near future to discuss these issues. I’ll keep you posted.


Note from Zack
May 7, 2010

In case you didn’t see it …

Dear Members:

GCC/IBT President George Tedeschi and the Executive Board of Local 406 have found common ground after months of talks on proposals for three-year contracts for our six bargaining units. While they have not yet been signed by the negotiating committee, the proposals are drastically better than those we brought back to the members for a vote in January. That set of proposals was defeated by a vote of 473-10.

We will distribute the terms of the proposals after a meeting next week with the Executive Board and vice stewards on Tuesday, May 11, at 6:30 p.m. at the union offices at 246 Conklin St. in Farmingdale. In the meantime, feel free to ask Liisa May or me for details about the proposals.

Thanx for your support and suggestions!



Tentative agreement reached
May 6, 2010

The Local 406 executive board and Newsday management have tentatively agreed on a 3-year contract. It has not been signed yet, though, so I can’t reveal the details here yet. A message from union leadership is forthcoming. Consult a steward if you have questions.


Progress made on new contract, speak up now
May 5, 2010

It appears that Local 406 and Newsday have made real progress toward an agreement, and Liisa May wants to hear from members now about what you will accept in a new contract and what you won’t. Needed are concise, realistic suggestions – no polemics – for a new agreement, keeping in mind that there will likely be givebacks. So what’s important to you? If there’s a pay cut, what do you want in return? How big of a pay cut is too big?

I can’t wade too far into the details on the blog, but it’s no secret that a pay cut is on the table right now, though one much smaller than we rejected in January.

Send your thoughts to liisamay@mac.com. You may also send them to me at mike.amon@gmail.com and I will pass it on.


Newsday’s future profits
April 27, 2010

Bernstein Research, a reputable firm that analyzes Cablevision’s finances, released a report recently that projects Newsday as a profitable company for the next five years.

Because I am the least-tech-savvy blogger ever, I don’t know how to link the pdf to this post. If anyone wants it, I’ll forward to you. But here’s Bernstein’s projections for Newsday’s EBIDTA (earnings before interest, debt, taxes and amortization, also known as cash flow.), along with actual EBIDTA from 2009. EBIDTA doesn’t include accounting write-downs which, for example, count the closing of the Patterson building as a loss. Cash flow is estimated to rise this year, even as the company asks for drastic cutbacks from employees.

(cash flow in millions)
2009 – 22
2010 – 31
2011 – 26
2012 – 21
2013 – 17
2014 – 13

To be fair, Bernstein also projects that the company’s revenues will decline from $342 million in 2009 to $238 million in 2014, so perhaps the firm is assuming a decline in expenses to maintain positive cashflow.

Just thought everyone should know.

It should also be noted that Cablevision is making so much money that Bernstein says the only relevant question about the company is: “What will they do with their cash flow?” I have a few ideas.


Online subscriptions and a correction
April 27, 2010

First, the correction. Contract talks begin again on Thursday, the 29th, not Wednesday as I had written earlier.

Second, you may have noticed Newsday’s story today on falling circulation. In the print edition, in the second to last graf, it says about the online subscriptions: “Newsday, which offers its online edition free to print subscribers and to Cablevision customers, reported 1,272 paid online customers.”

Seems like a big increase from 35, right? Well, two Newsday sources tell me otherwise. One writes to me that the 1,272 “includes buyers of online merchandise such as PDFs, and so extends beyond what we call ‘online subscribers.'” So we really don’t know how many people are paying $5 a week to view the website.

Further, I find it strange that the graf about the 1,272 subscribers appears in the print edition but not online. If anyone knows why, shoot me a line.

UPDATE! While it’s still unclear why the graf doesn’t appear online, two newsroom sources tell me that company officials were uncomfortable with the 1,272 number appearing in print. What’s up with it suddenly disappearing online?

Finally, since we’re talking about falling circulation, I think Publisher Terry Jimenez’s point about Long Island home delivery inching upward bears repeating. In print and online, Newsday’s strategy is to shed extraneous readers (outside LI) and maintain and expand those most desirable to local advertisers. Whether that’s a profitable strategy remains to be seen, but it’s being executed quite nicely. Yet, even as management’s circulation strategy appears to be humming along according to plan, they’re still asking for huge pay cuts and other concessions from workers. Doesn’t seem right, does it.

I see a lot of people wearing black today. Lookin’ good.


Contract talks re-start Wednesday; Tomorrow is Black Tuesday
April 26, 2010

Just a quick reminder: Contract talks begin again on Wednesday. Local 406’s executive board will meet with Newsday management folks at 235 Pinelawn Road on Wednesday morning.

As I’ve noted before, there has been some progress, though both sides remain far apart. Look for updates here or on the Facebook page as I will post news as it comes in. Speaking of which, the page has 219 fans now. Let’s keep that number moving up. Suggest the page to your friends.

Tomorrow is Black Tuesday, also known as Johnny Cash Day. Because til we make a move to make a few things right, you’ll never see me wear a suit of white.


General meeting news
April 20, 2010

I attended the Local 406 general membership meeting this morning, along with Judy Bernstein and Hye Jeong of the copy desk. There were a lot of questions about the contract but not a lot of new information.

One thing I didn’t know: Newsday has been asking for a two-year contract. The union seems to want a three-year deal, at least.

Union officials also said the accountant hired by local 406 believes Newsday had profits of between $16 million and $21 million in 2009. The basis for that determination is the company’s cash flow – money coming in versus expenses going out. The company maintains it’s losing money, that closing the Patterson building, shutting down a printing press and giving out executive severance packages last year amounted to serious lost value. The union, however, contends those losses exist only on paper, do not represent money going out the door and should not be used for the purposes of negotiating a new contract.

Union officials also confirmed what has been posted before on this blog: That there has been some “movement” from Newsday on core issues such as wages and vacation but the two sides remain far apart. No specifics were discussed, though one union official said Newsday’s latest offer “won’t put a smile on your face.”

Local 406 President Mike O’Connor noted that two units – editorial and electronic pre-press – are working without contracts for the first time ever. The other four units have contracts that expire between April 28 and June 6. So far, Newsday has honored the expired contracts.

As always, let me know if you have any questions.


General union meeting on Tuesday morning
April 19, 2010

There is a general union meeting on Tuesday at 8 a.m. in the basement of the VFW hall in Wheatley Heights. The address is 19 Colonial Springs Road.

All union members are welcome to attend, and there’s an opportunity to ask questions about any topic.


Movement in talks but no contract yet
April 13, 2010

Newsday and Local 406 traded proposals for a new labor contract today in a meeting at 235 Pinelawn Road, but the two sides still remain far from an agreement, union officers said.

Talks are set to begin again on April 28, delayed because of scheduling conflicts.

International Graphic Communications Council President George Tedeschi and Local 406 Treasurer Michael LaSpina met with Newsday’s labor attorney, Jerome Kauff, for about five hours. While previous meetings appeared to focus on Newsday’s financial condition, this one involved haggling over bread and butter contract issues: wages, hours and vacation.

LaSpina said there’s “movement” from Newsday off of previous proposals – he wouldn’t call it positive movement and said a “laundry list” of issues still must be resolved. LaSpina said the union could not ask its members to ratify the current proposal from management. But the company rejected the union’s proposal because it doesn’t produce the savings the company purports to need, LaSpina said

Union officers wouldn’t publicly disclose the terms of the proposals. LaSpina said the union proposal does have financial givebacks to the company but far less than the contract voted down in January.

If you have questions, let me know.


Talks scheduled for Tuesday
April 12, 2010

Union officers tell me that Local 406 representatives will meet with Newsday management on Tuesday and continue hammering out issues so we can get a new contract.

International Graphic Communications Council President George Tedeschi and Teamsters economist Jim Kimball met with the company today to reconcile the union and Newsday’s differing calculations of payroll and expenses. The result should help determine the costs of future contract proposals.

I don’t have further details, but, speaking for myself, I see this development as a good sign.

As always, let me know if you have questions.


Talks start again
April 8, 2010

GCC President George Tedeschi and the Local 406 executive board reopened talks with Newsday management today, this time with a certified public accountant on the union’s side of the table.

The talks ended without a new agreement but both sides agreed to meet again on Friday.

As always, let us know if you have any questions or concerns.


Depressing news in St. Louis
March 29, 2010

As you may have seen on Romenesko, the Guild at the Post-Dispatch approved a 5 1/2-year contract — a 132-54 vote — calling for three unpaid, one-week furloughs over the next 2 1/2 years. Wages at the Lee Enterprises paper would bounce back by 2.5 percent in each of the last three years of the contract if company revenue increases by at least 2 percent a year.

The bounce-back provisions are important, as are the furloughs, which Newsday rejected in the first round of negotiating. Not that I want a paycut, but at least a furlough means you don’t have to work for it.


No news is no news …
March 26, 2010

Hey folks,
There hasn’t been much to tell you lately. The two sides aren’t meeting again until April 8, and I don’t know if there will be much to say until then. My sense is, there’s not even much happening behind the scenes, as the principles are traveling.

Here are a few items of interest from around the Web.

Boston Globe staffers are understandably upset over bonuses given to executives Arthur Sulzberger and Janet Robinson, in the same year the union agreed to some drastic give-backs.

The Wall Street Journal staffers accepted a 17-month wage freeze recently, in exchange for some modest concessions. Sounds bad, but it beats a 10-percent pay cut, loss of vacation and longer working hours. Even Rupert Murdoch appears more benevolent than our current owners.

And so it goes …


Don’t save all your green clothes for St. Patrick’s Day.

Tuesday, March 16, has been designated as Green Tuesday. There will be cup cakes.


Update: New talks scheduled for April 8
March 15, 2010

After meetings on Friday didn’t produce an agreement, Newsday management and Local 406 have scheduled new contract discussions for April 8, union officers said.

Both sides would have liked to schedule something sooner but with holidays such as Passover and Easter approaching, they couldn’t arrange it.

From what I understand, the two sides are very much in contact with each other and are making a bit of progress, though it probably can best be measured in inches.

The delay means that the editorial unit contract will expire without a new agreement on April 1.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Union officers tell me that the old contract will stay in effect, but Zack Dowdy is going to address that in an upcoming membership note and I’ll defer to him.

It should be noted that the Electronic Pre-press unit has been working without a contract since late February. No changes in working conditions so far.

The press room and delivery units are still under contract until May 1 and June 1.

As always, feel free to ask questions. To comment on this post, click here.


In lieu of real news, a photo …
March 10, 2010

Union leaders are still scheduled to meet with management tomorrow (Thursday), though it’s unclear if Publisher Terry Jimenez will attend because of a pre-arranged meeting with advertisers. Talks will also continue on Friday.

Beyond that, there isn’t a lot to report today. In lieu of news, here’s a photo of the union bulletin board in the newsroom that you may or may not have noticed lately. I always liked New York Newsday’s old slogan “Truth, Justice and The Comics.” I also like this photo.


Tuesday is Black Tuesday.
March 8, 2010.


Newsday, Local 406 trade proposals; agreement still far off
March 7, 2010

Newsday officials and Local 406 leadership have traded “off the record” proposals for a new contract but are not close to an agreement, union officials told me over the weekend.

The first proposal came from George Tedeschi, president of the Graphic Communications Council and lead negotiator for Local 406, to Newsday publisher Terry Jimenez over dinner on Feb. 25.

Tedeschi, in a meeting with stewards last week, said the proposal was “significantly better” for the union membership than the contract agreement that was rejected 473-10 back in January. He wouldn’t reveal specifics about the proposals, except to say it included union givebacks but also requested concessions from management.

But, according to union leadership, Jimenez said the proposal didn’t save the company enough money and promised to make a counter-offer. That came on Friday, March 5, after Jimenez and Newsday’s negotiating attorney met with Tedeschi and Michael LaSpina, the local’s secretary-treasurer, for lunch.

I can’t get into the specific details of what Newsday offered. LaSpina, who gave me most of the information for this update, said the new proposal wasn’t very different from the contract that the union rejected. Tedeschi believed the proposal cut too deep without significant management concessions, and he flew back to Washington on Saturday.

It appears the two sides remain far apart on issues such as wages and outsourcing of delivery.

Contract discussions, with the union executive board and Newsday management present, are scheduled to recommence on Thursday. I’ll try to keep you updated about what’s going on.

As the process moves forward, there will be a lot of information that union officers like myself will not be able to disseminate widely – on this blog for instance. But feel free to seek any of us out for an update.

To comment on this post, click here.


Meeting with Tedeschi
March 4, 2010

Hey folks,
There was a meeting last night with George Tedeschi at Local 406’s Farmingdale headquarters. We learned some important information about the state of the talks with Newsday. It’s stuff I don’t feel comfortable publishing widely. Please do feel free to check in with any of the union officers, including me at mike.amon@gmail.com, for a private update.

In other news, the Local 406 contract team – George, Bruce Lambert, and the vice presidents and stewards of the six units – have scheduled meetings with Newsday to talk March 11-13. George is on Long Island now and is expected to meet with management on Friday, March 5, as well, and possibly Saturday.

More information to come as I get it.


Pay cuts rescinded at NYT, elsewhere
March 1, 2010

Here’s a heartening story in the Wall Street Journal about pay cuts being rescinded at companies across the country, including the New York Times. You may recall that the NYT newsroom last year took a 5 temporary percent in exchange for two weeks of extra vacation. Now newsroom employees are getting their money back it seems.

Hopefully, someone at Cablevision is reading this.


Talks temporarily halted
Feb. 25, 2010

Newsday and Local 406 halted direct talks Thursday after what one union officer described as a “spirited” discussion over financial information released by management.

The weather also appeared to play a role in temporarily suspending the face-to-face sessions, as international president George Tedeschi feared being snowed into New York. He lives in the Washington area.

No new session has been scheduled but they’re talking about starting up again on March 5.

There was some conflicting information out there that I’m trying to clear up. This AP article says Newsday lost $2 million in 2009. But union officers said Newsday managers claimed a $12 million loss in talks.

(Update: I think I figured out the discrepancy in the $2 million and $12 million figures. The $2 million loss was for the 4th quarter. That was confusing for a simple reason: the 4th quarter is normally our best, and the company had told union officers they expected to make a profit in the last three months of 2009. And they did, to the tune of about $3.4 million. But they decided to count the closure of the Patterson Building as a $5 or $6 million loss, putting the paper in the red for the quarter.)

The purported losses aren’t the whole story though.

The company had $21.8 million in positive net cash flow – a healthy number that, as we’ve pointed out before, is how Cablevision says it measures performance.

The “loss” comes when you include $34 million in depreciation and amortization costs. Much of this includes one-time charges like $4 million for the web site re-launch, $1.2 million in severances packages to executives like Tim Knight (not all to him) and a previously undisclosed $5 to $6 million for the closing of the Paterson Building.

The financial information that Newsday turned over to Teamster economist Jim Kimball wasn’t everything he asked for. Union officers said they hope that information will be made available before March 5.

The two sides have not exchanged proposals for a new contract yet as they try to sort out Newsday’s true financial condition.

Meanwhile, Cablevision is doing fine. Its net profit was $285 million in 2009.

To comment on this post, click here.


Contract talks update
Feb. 23, 2010

Newsday management on Tuesday turned over a significant amount of financial data to Teamsters economist Jim Kimball, who will pore over it in the next day or so to verify the company’s financial condition. Union officers said they couldn’t reveal exactly what was turned over.

A handful of union officials – after signing confidentiality agreements – were allowed to view Newsday’s still confidential 4th quarter results, which will be made public on Thursday in Cablevision’s SEC filing. No word on what they will say.

Zack Dowdy told me the tone of Tuesday’s meetings was positive. George Tedeschi said it was a productive day.

I’ll try to keep everyone up to date over the next few days as it becomes clear what useful information, if any, Newsday turned over. I’ll close with some thoughts from a smart and trusted colleague who e-mailed me about Newsday’s financial condition this morning.

“While the operating profit/loss was the focus of the recent press release (ie, verifying the $7 million loss) and the “loss” has been used to justify wage cuts, I’d suggest drilling into and remaining focused on cash flow numbers, as they are what Cablevision highlights as among the most important in displaying a business unit’s health.
Take note of the definition of consolidated free cash flow from continuing operations in Cablevision’s third quarter press release (below).

“I believe for the first three quarters of 2009, Newsday had operating free cash flow of $10.7 million. That number is almost certain to increase markedly by year end.”

From the 3rd quarter press release.
“We define Consolidated Free Cash Flow from Continuing Operations, (“Free Cash Flow”), which is a non-GAAP financial measure, as net cash from operating activities (continuing operations) less capital expenditures (continuing operations), both of which are reported in our Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows. Net cash from operating
activities excludes net cash from operating activities of our discontinued operations. We believe the most comparable GAAP financial measure of our liquidity is net cash from operating activities. We believe that Free Cash Flow is useful as an indicator of our overall liquidity, as the amount of Free Cash Flow generated in any period is representative of cash that is available for debt repayment and other discretionary and non-discretionary cash uses. It is also one of several indicators of our ability to make investments and/or return capital to our shareholders. We also believe that Free Cash Flow is one of several benchmarks used by analysts and investors who follow our industry for comparison of our liquidity with other companies in our industry, although our measure of Free Cash Flow may not be directly comparable to similar measures reported by other companies.”

To comment on this post, click here.


Press release: Newsday contract talks begin on Tuesday
Feb. 22, 2010

Press release from Zack follow below, if you haven’t seen it already.

Melville, N.Y. — Union leaders representing the Newsday workers who produce and deliver the Long Island daily newspaper will meet with the papers management Tuesday to verify the companys claim that it is losing $7 million.

These talks have been delayed twice because of snow.

Leading the union team for Local 406 of the Graphic Communications Conference/International Brotherhood of Teamsters will be George Tedeschi, president of the GCC. Also present will Bruce Lambert, a former Newsday reporter who helped launch the editorial unit of Local 406 in 1976 and who was a union vice president for more than two decades.

Local 406 has asked Newsday for detailed financial records. Union leaders hope to receive the financial information at this meeting.

Jim Kimball, director of the Teamsters Economics and Contracts Department, will be present to inspect these records when they are made available. Also at the table will be the vice presidents and stewards of the six bargaining units of the union local.

On Jan. 24, Local 406 overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to reduce salaries by 10 to 15 percent, cut vacations and lengthen the work week. After the 473-10 vote, Local 406 members have displayed unity, showing solidarity by wearing the same color on chosen days.

Union leaders said they stand ready to help, as in the past, as Newsday management says the paper is financially troubled.

Local 406 looks forward to partnering with the company in seeking a viable newspaper and fair working conditions for Newsdays reporters, photographers, editors, press operators, platemakers, electronic pre-press workers, truck drivers and building and maintenance workers.

For more information, contact Local 406 Editorial Vice President Zachary Dowdy, 631-843-2294 or 516-524-1943 (cell).

To comment on this post, click here.


Tedeschi scheduled for a Tuesday morning arrival
Feb. 22, 2010

Word is, George Tedeschi is scheduled to fly to New York from Washington on Tuesday morning. With a forecast of rain, not snow, it should actually happen, with talks beginning Tuesday and continuing throughout the week. I will keep everyone as informed as possible, but much of the talks will be off the record, and I respect that. Still, everyone should feel free to ask questions about the process as we go forward.

It’s a good week to wear your buttons. If anyone needs one of the new ones, see Zack, Liisa or me.


Reminder: Meeting Today
Feb. 18, 2010

Editorial unit union meeting in the pressman’s lunchroom at 6:30 p.m. Zack will talk about the upcoming contract talks and how you can help out.


New Buttons!
Feb. 17, 2010

We have new buttons. Come see Liisa, Zack or me to get your very own.


Contract talks delay covered by Joe Strupp
Feb. 16, 2010

Former Editor and Publisher reporter Joe Strupp published another item on his blog about Local 406. The jist is talks are postponed until Feb. 23, as we all know, I hope by now. It also notes that getting financials from Newsday management could be a sticking point.

Read it here.

To comment on this post, click here.


Limited absentee voting to be allowed in next contract vote
Feb. 16, 2010

There was a general meeting of the union this morning. Here’s the news.

Newsday Local 406 members who are out-of-town on assignment or on vacation may be able to vote by absentee ballot in the next contract ratification vote.

Union members approved a motion allowing members who can verify they will be out-of-town on assignment or on vacation to pick up an absentee ballot at the union offices in Farmingdale. You can vote there and hand the ballot in, or mail it.

The measure now must be posted for membership to see and will be ratified at the next general meeting.

The idea came up after the last contract vote, which came on the same day as the Jets played in the conference championship game. Several sports writers and a photographer were in Indianapolis on assignment and couldn’t vote. At the same time, a reporter and photographer were in Haiti and couldn’t vote either.

It won’t solve every scheduling problem. We decided to not mail out absentee ballots because it’s too costly and the turn-around time is too small – five days or so between a tentative contract agreement and a ratification vote. So sportswriters caught covering the Mets or Knicks on a long road trip might still be disenfranchised. But it’s a step in the right direction.

That five days number is also new. We voted to increase the minimum amount of time between tentative agreement and ratification votes from 48 hours to five days. It could take longer, depending on circumstances.

Contract talks are still scheduled to begin again on Feb. 23, with George Tedeschi leading the way, said Local 406 President Mike O’Connor.

By the way, general meetings are open to all membership. They’re every third Tuesday of the month at 8 a.m. at the VFW hall in Wheatley Heights.

To comment on this post, click here.


A note from Zack about contract talks being delayed.
Feb. 12, 2010

Dear Members:

Meetings between Local 406 and Newsday management have been postponed yet again. The new time for talks is Feb 23. By then, we hope Washington will have thawed out, allowing GCC/IBT President George Tedeschi and Teamster officials Jim Kimball and Joe Molinero to fly up to Long Island and begin talks with the publisher on our contracts.

In the meantime, we will hold another general informational meeting in Editorial to answer questions and bring everyone up to speed. At that time, we may also discuss other union issues and pass out new buttons. I am planning to hold the meeting on Thursday, February 18 at 6:30 p.m in the Pressmen’s lunchroom.


To comment on this post, click here.


Local 406 in the news
Feb. 9, 2010

Media reporter Joe Strupp covers some of the changes in union leadership as contract talks begin again. The article notes that Local 406 President Mike O’Connor was replaced as lead negotiator by International GCC/IBT president George Tedeschi after O’Connor negotiated a contract with massive concessions.

To comment on this post, click here.


Contract Talks Delayed ’til Friday
Feb. 9, 2010

Word from Local 406 officers is this: the planned meeting between union leaders and Newsday management today was called off. George Tedeschi, who lives in the Washington, D.C. area, is still snowed in. Liisa May tells me that the next possible date for talks to begin is Friday. Meetings throughout the weekend are then possible.

More details as they come in.

To comment on this story, click here.


A Good Question from John Riley
Feb. 8, 2010

John Riley wrote to me awhile ago, asking why editorial was asked to give up a week of vacation across the board, while other units only lost the 5th week of vacation. My understanding at the time was that editorial lost the week of vacation through routine bargaining, in exchange for less severe wage cuts. Riley’s sentiment at the end reflects something a number of people have complained to me about: that the vacation cuts in editorial seemed harsh and out-of-step with other units. Something to think about as labor meets management Tuesday.

From Riley: According to their initial letter to the union, Newsday sought to eliminate the grandfathered fifth week of vacation.

The Electronic Prepress MoA that was voted on a couple of weeks ago acceded to that demand. The Pressroom, Transportation, Building Maintenance and Platemaking MoAs all called for the fifth week to be whittled down to two days, giving up three days. The Editorial MoA, however, gives up a week of vacation for ALL members — not just the fifth week for those who are entitled to it, and not just three days. We seem to have given management MORE than its initial demand.

It’s possible there’s a good reason for this, but I can’t think of it. Can anyone shed any light on it?

I realize that the union has rejected all of the MoAs. But they are nonetheless a reflection of some of the negotiations to date, and to some degree a starting point for the next round of negotiations. Unless there is a good reason, or a valuable tradeoff we got in return, I think we should make clear to George and Mike that Editorial expects a vacation clause that is not more punitive than the rest of the union.

Thoughts? Discussion?

To comment on this story, click here.


Union press release published on Romenesko
Feb. 8, 2010

Local 406 to ask to inspect Newsday’s financials. Read it here.


UPDATE: Contract talks delayed until Tuesday because of snow in Washington, D.C. where George Tedeschi lives.

Contract negotiations start again today
Feb. 8, 2010

Local 406 leaders will meet with Newsday management today, Monday, to begin hashing out a new contract. The talks likely will begin in earnest Tuesday. At the table for Local 406’s editorial unit will be GCC President George Tedeschi, Local 406 chief Mike O’Connor, unit VP Zachary Dowdy, editorial steward Liisa May and former editorial VP Bruce Lambert, who helped organize the newsroom in the 70s and led the unit with a steady hand for many years.

In other news, you may have heard from Cindy Chin that we’re wearing blue on Tuesday show solidarity as the talks begin. It’s also important to wear buttons. If you don’t have one, see Zack or Liisa. I’ve run out but I’ll replenish my stock soon.

Everyone on Facebook should look up the Local 406 fan page I set up and friend it. I’ll be linking to this blog from the fan page to make it easier to see announcements.

I also set up a Twitter page – www.twitter.com/the406411 … So there are now a few ways to follow the action as contract talks begin.

Finally, I just want to note that this blog, the twitter page, the facebook page, it’s all unofficial. I felt it would be easier to post stuff quicker if I did this myself, without approval from the union’s executive board. Just an FYI.

Zack and Liisa are the best people to ask about negotiations but feel free to e-mail me and I’ll do my best to get back to you. mike.amon@gmail.com.


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