THE NEWSROOM GUILD bargaining committee and management representatives met Tuesday, March 27, and Wednesday, March 28, to continue collective bargaining talks.
Communications Workers of America District 7 counsel, Richard Rosenblatt, joined us at the table both days.
Newsroom layoffs were fresh in all our minds. Although the latest layoffs were technically outside the scope of our current negotiations, Tom McKay made a statement about the layoffs. Missy Miller and Kevin Dale responded and we had a brief discussion.
The company then presented us with a handout suggesting how contract language might to altered to achieve the company’s goal of making sure that the employees remaining after a staff reduction are the ones best able to do the remaining and future work.
A wide-ranging discussion followed. Some of the things we talked about included:
- Specific terms in the handout. Rosenblatt, in his lawyerly way, questioned some of the terms. He also argued the value of using seniority.
- The issue of whether the company has an obligation to provide training so employees can acquire additional skills.
- The creation and use of performance appraisals.
- The possibility of collapsing job titles.
- The possibility of expanding duties.
- The value of subjectiveness in a creative environment such as the newsroom.
- The need to communicate expectations and notify employees of deficiencies.
- Checks and balances in the layoff process.
- A transitional period and the number of appraisals that must be performed before appraisals could be used in deciding who is laid off.
- How much weight later evaluations should carry over earlier evaluations.
- The idea of limiting layoffs to job titles within departments of the newsroom.
- What those newsroom departments might be.
- How much of the above can be accomplished under our current contract.
By the end of our session Tuesday both sides had informally agreed that there is potential value in a carefully-crafted and well-implemented evaluation process. However, there is still much discussion that must be done.
Wednesday’s session began with more discussion about the latest newsroom layoffs. We then spent the bulk of the session conceptualizing newsroom workflow. We looked at high-concept views of the steps involved in publishing a story. Both our present workflow and potential future workflows were discussed.
We finished Wednesday talking about equipment. We tried to identify equipment and services that are and will be needed by the newsroom.
No additional bargaining dates have been set.
Updated April 6: A bargaining date of Wednesday, April 11, has been set.