Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Labor Peace Train: Stop and Go

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Labor Peace Train: Stop and Go

Article excerpt

On the fast track in Richmond, but on the slow track in Everett, Monterey, and, of course, San Diego

As Labor Day drew near, four newspapers reached significant milestones in their long-standing labor/management disputes.

Only one paper achieved labor peace.

Early this summer, the yearlong negotiations between the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch and the 180-member Richmond Newspapers Professional Association (RNPA) were going so slowly that the two sides hadn't even met since last January. Then management offered union members a $1,000 bonus if they ratified a new contract within 45 days. "The pace quickened after that," said Times-Dispatch Senior Vice President and Business Manager Scott Leath.

It sure did, countered RNPA attorney Jay J. Levit -- because early last month the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced it would issue a complaint against the Media General Inc.-owned daily for bad- faith bargaining. The new contract, approved by RNPA members in a 126- 10 vote, includes a 7% pay raise over three years.

At The Monterey County Herald in Monterey, Calif., it was the union that advocated fast-track bargaining. In early August, San Jose Newspaper Guild Local 39098 proposed accelerating contract talks that have dragged on for four years without, according to the union, any wage proposal from management. Ten days later, Knight Ridder Vice President Marshall Anstandig responded by letter: "The Monterey County Herald believes we are making progress at our current pace."

Herald management won a victory Aug. 9 when the NLRB overturned a judge's 1998 decision that the paper illegally failed to bargain with the Guild over wages for employees hired after Knight Ridder purchased the paper in 1997. …

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