Tribune Engages in Bad Faith and Regressive Effects Bargaining Over Proposed Lay-Offs

| June 25, 2020

After weeks of bargaining in bad faith, failing to make substantive movement from its initial lay-off proposal, giving the Union unreasonable and arbitrary response deadlines and unlawfully threatening the Union with a “take it or leave it” approach, the Chicago Tribune unilaterally implemented a regressive proposal to lay-off  the two least senior drivers in the bargaining unit prior to reaching impasse with the Union. Adding insult to injury, the Tribune also refused to provide information on circulation unless the Union signed an overreaching confidentiality agreement that would have prevented the Union from sharing the information with the members. In yet another show of bad faith, the circulation information that the Tribune claimed was “confidential” interestingly became publicly available shortly after the Union sent a counteroffer to the Tribune’s absurd confidentially agreement. “It seems that the Tribune was hiding this information from the Union by falsely claiming that the information was confidential,” said Secretary-Treasurer, John Coli, Jr. The Union immediately filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board over the Tribune’s regressive and bad faith actions. The Union also filed a grievance with management over the matter.

The Tribune’s proposal prior to its regressive and unilateral implementation would have allowed the entire bargaining unit the opportunity to volunteer for a lay-off, which would give them access to the negotiated severance package. Instead, the Tribune regressively, and in bad faith, implemented a mandatory lay-off of the two least senior drivers. At the time of the Company’s unlawful action, the parties had agreed to a severance package that consisted of up to twenty-six weeks of straight time pay (two weeks of pay for the first year of employment with the Tribune and one week for every additional week of employment up to twenty-six weeks) and one additional month of health care coverage. The Union’s most recent proposal, which was sent to the Tribune prior to them unlawfully moving forward with the lay-off, would allow laid-off drivers to trade weeks of severance pay for health care coverage. The option to trade severance for health care was consistent with agreements the Union and Tribune reached in 2018 that essentially saved the Chicago Newspaper Publishers Drivers Union Pension Fund. By negotiating a deal that merged the failing pension with the robust Teamsters Local Union No. 727 Pension, the pensions of approximately 850 participants were saved.

When the Tribune rejected the Union’s most recent proposal Local 727 suggested that the parties meet at the Union Hall to work out the outstanding issue. The Tribune, in a truly hypocritical turn, refused to meet in person “due to COVID-19 related considerations.” The Union was quick to remind the Tribune that they have had no problem having their drivers work on the frontlines throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – without hazard pay or paid sick leave. The Union offered to meet via teleconference early next week to accommodate the Tribune’s new found concern of COVID-19. In response, the Tribune refused to meet and unlawfully implemented the mandatory layoff which was far less than the last proposal presented to the Union and a clear act of regressive bargaining.

“The fact that the Tribune would take this action is a slap in the face to the drivers who have spent decades of their lives working tirelessly for the company and who have worked without hesitation over the past few months at the risk of their and their families’ health and safety. The Union will not stand for this blatant disrespect and will see this all the way through.,” said John Coli, Jr., Secretary-Treasurer of Local 727.

Questions should be directed to Business Agent Melissa Senatore at (847) 696-7500.

Nothing in this article should be read as the union’s waiver of any legal argument, position or grievance(s), or as a waiver of any rights, arguments, or defenses under any contract, collective bargaining agreement, or applicable law. The union does not forfeit its right to make any and all supplemental arguments.


Category: Newspaper

Comments are closed.