Projo union OKs new 3-year contract with AH BeloFebruary 16th, 2011 at 6:43 pm by Ted Nesi under General Talk
The Providence Journal’s largest union has approved a new three-year contract with the newspaper that will freeze wages and increase medical costs but that supporters also hope will protect some jobs.
The final vote today was 147-50 in favor, Providence Newspaper Guild President John Hill told me this evening after union officials tallied the ballots. Turnout among eligible voters was about 83%.
“This was difficult for everybody,” Hill said. “Even the people who voted yes didn’t like it. We lost ground economically under this deal – even though there’s no pay cut, our health costs are going to go up, in some cases significantly.
“So in that sense, I think even the yeses were holding their noses,” he said.
The new contract covers the Guild’s roughly 250 workers. It will take effect on April 1 and continue through Dec. 31, 2013; the union’s previous pact expired at the end of last year. The Journal is the only one of A.H. Belo’s three papers whose workers are unionized.
“There was a significant amount of upset about this, but the [newspaper] business all over New England and all over the country is in tough shape right now,” Hill said, adding: “My standard line is [this contract] is a product of its times, and those times in the newspaper business are bad.”
Hill, a veteran Journal reporter, put the situation more starkly in a letter to his members last week that noted the paper’s daily circulation has fallen below 100,000 and its advertising revenue is down by more than half.
“You don’t have to look at the empty desks in your work areas, or walk past the third-floor offices full of file boxes instead of people, to be reminded of how many of our friends were laid off in 2008-09,” he said.