Some Progress At The Table, But . . .
A Call For Pressure Away From The Table
Union and Company representatives met again yesterday in South Brunswick, NJ for our fifth regular negotiation session (on Monday, the classification subcommittee also met to discuss job titles and pay tiers).
Most of the items discussed yesterday were those listed in last week's "Selected Issues" proposals from management. IAPE presented a response and — after much discussion at the contract table, and some give and take on some of these topics — Dow Jones followed with their latest proposal document.
Without getting too deep in the weeds, it appears the Union and the Company have reached agreement on the authority of arbitrators to hear National Labor Relations Board charges deferred to arbitration and on the requirement to repay education assistance for employees who leave Dow Jones within eighteen months of receiving such benefits.
There was no significant discussion of healthcare or wages, except that Dow Jones responded to a Union request for information and provided data on COBRA rates for the years 2012 through 2016. And while it is difficult to compare plans for each year due to changes in plan design — changes in premium rates for dependents, the introduction of new plans, etc. — the Company's information emphasizes what we've been saying all along: employees have shouldered an ever-increasing burden when paying for healthcare benefits at Dow Jones.
That's why — when Company representatives asked to turn discussions back towards healthcare — we told them they should not be surprised when the Union continues to demand linkage between healthcare and wages. Surprisingly, and in a complete turnaround from last week's position, they told us they understood our position.
(Which doesn't mean they agree with our position — but still, it's a place to start.)
So, when we return to the bargaining table tomorrow, we'll have a new comprehensive proposal in hand addressing all outstanding items, including wages and benefits.
Of course, we still have our pay equity proposal on the table — which is important to note given management comments at Town Hall meetings in New York on Monday and South Brunswick yesterday. If we heard them correctly, DJ execs seem to believe that only five percent of DJ employees warrant a closer look at salaries. That's a surprising turn for a Company pledging to take our pay equity concerns seriously, especially when they also revealed results from their "Engagement Survey" show a full third of employees feel current pay is inadequate.
And it's frustrating when they tout the continued success — our success — in the drive toward the Company goal of three million subscribers.
Fair to say, then, that while the tone may have changed slightly at the bargaining table, Dow Jones management likely has not received the message that we need a quality contract, with fair wages and quality benefits.
That's where you come in.
We're calling for all IAPE members to deliver their contract comments to our Feedback Page. Just shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or reply to this note. Comments will be posted anonymously, unless you specifically request that your name be included.
Members in South Brunswick — we're asking you to wear one of our "WSJ UNION MADE" t-shirts tomorrow in support of the IAPE bargaining committee. If you don't have a t-shirt yet, contact one of our SBK stewards and we'll try to deliver one ASAP. If you don't get a shirt in time, or t-shirts aren't appropriate in your department, any black or red shirt/top/jacket will do nicely.
Members in all other locations — please feel free to join in tomorrow with your New Jersey colleagues if you can.
Beginning next week, we're calling for members in all locations to wear these t-shirts or red/black tops every other Thursday — on Dow Jones pay dates. When you get paid, wear "UNION MADE."
It's time for Dow Jones execs to see that we're all in this together. It's time for a fair contract.