Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Back to the Bargaining Table

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Back to the Bargaining Table

Article excerpt

Seattle negotiators set new contract talks

With both sides bloodied, negotiators in the Seattle newspaper strike agreed to meet last Friday for the first time since the strike began.

While the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild has launched a public- relations campaign and indicated a willingness to adjust its original proposals, management has remained resolute in its wage-and-benefits offer.

"It won't be a better offer," cautioned Seattle Times spokeswoman Kerry Coughlin. In fact, she said "it's possible" management's last offer of an hourly raise of $3.30 over six years could even be scaled back to a more modest proposal.

"There's been a strike for two weeks. It's had a huge financial impact on the company," Coughlin said, adding that she did not know the specific financial losses sustained by the jointly operated Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer (P-I).

The Guild, meanwhile, hired a PR firm to produce local radio ads featuring P-I columnist Art Thiel and Times columnist Jean Godden. The ads encourage management to negotiate and treat the union with fairness and respect.

The union has lowered its original demands and is now seeking $3.25 over three years and a 401(k) retirement plan from the newspapers, which maintain a 401(k) plan isn't necessary because they already have pension plans.

"It's so, so simple. That's what is so aggravating for a lot of us," Thiel told E&P. "We're not talking about a transformation of the workplace, we're not talking about a lot of other big-deal issues. …

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