Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Union-Hating Gannett Shows Itself the Door in Connecticut

Company That Helped Define Bad-Faith Negotiating With Newspaper Union Walks Away From Stamford Advocate Rather than Recognize Contract

Gannett management doesn't have to deal with unions at most of its newspapers. When they do, the unions and their rank-and-file are often treated more like diseased bugs that need to be terminated with extreme prejudice rather than partners in effecting change who deserve a fair deal.
Not that Gannett is alone in treating newspaper unions like enemy combatants, but the company seems to have taken a perverse pride in making their unionized employees miserable.
Exhibit A: The Newspaper Guild at Gannett's former flagship, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, which has been without a contract for a mindblowing 15 years.
Gannett was set to take the Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time off the hands of Tribune. However, the contract had one annoying wrinkle: The UAW represents 34 Advocate newsroom employees. Gannett didn't want to honor their contract, which runs through next year.
An arbitrator told Gannett if it wanted the papers, the contract came along for the ride.
That's where Gannett bid the Tribune sayonara, preferring to walk away from a $100 million-plus transaction because 34 employees, who by their union's own admission, have a "modest" contract, had the temerity to have their collective-bargaining rights protected.
Which now leaves Tribune holding what other buyers may now view as damaged goods, as the company tries to pare down debt following the $8.2 billion Sam Zell buyout.
It's a small victory for labor, which has gotten a severe butt-kicking at newspapers from Philadelphia to San Francisco and many points in between over the last two years. But it's a victory nonetheless.

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