Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Lexington Newspaper Guild Takes Contract Fight -- to YouTube

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Lexington Newspaper Guild Takes Contract Fight -- to YouTube

Article excerpt

The Newspaper Guild contract fight at the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader, which has ranged from union radio ads attacking management to a publisher's letter criticizing the guild, has now reached YouTube.com.

The Lexington Newspaper Guild, which will reach one year without a contract on Jan. 1, 2008, posted on YouTube an eight-minute video of a recent guild rally outside of the Herald-Leader. The video shows picketing members and bullhorn-toting union leaders, including Linda Foley, president of the national Newspaper Guild and a former Herald-Leader staffer.

It can be viewed at:

http://www.youtube.com/LexingtonGuild

"The video was another way of getting our message out and showing the public what is going on at this supposedly progressive newspaper," said Brandon Ortiz, local guild president and a court reporter at the paper. "People here are on edge, it has essentially hurt morale."

The union, which represents about 100 staffers, says the sticking points in the latest contract talks are not over merit pay, raises, or other major issues. Ortiz claims the agreement is stalled over two requests by the paper to allow management the right to cut days off and reduce health benefits for part-time workers.

"We are pretty bewildered that they would allow this to hold up a contract," Ortiz said. "We are pretty close to an agreement, in the last couple of months we have made some compromises."

Publisher Timothy Kelly denied that the paper was seeking any cuts in time-off or health benefits, stating: "We have just said that we want to continue to treat all of the employees the same." He declined to elaborate.

Kelly also had no reaction to the YouTube video, saying "we would have preferred to have done our negotiations in private. …

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