August 31, 2016

Bargaining Update: New Obstacles

Contract bargaining. Even when you start moving in the right direction, you occasionally run into an obstacle or two. Such was the case during today's negotiation session in South Brunswick.

As promised, IAPE presented a comprehensive proposal documentaddressing all open issues. Key among today's Union proposals were our points on health-care: premium-free coverage for employees in Canada, a 0.50% of salary cap in premium increases for U.S. employees, and a proposal to offset other cost increases with compensation in 2018 and 2019, when those increases result in reductions in actuarial value of any health plan.

Obstacle number 1: addressing actuarial value is "Unworkable," the Company said. The value of plans could be affected by trends or factors outside the Company's control.

Well, maybe so, we said. So, let's draw a brighter line between health-care costs and real wage increases. If Dow Jones wants to reduce its health-care costs at the expense of its employees, make sure employees' take home pay is increased to the extent they aren't losing money by continuing to work at Dow Jones.

So, Dow Jones came back with a proposal of its own, but only addressing compensation issues.

Obstacle number 2: almost everything in that document, including a "serious, honest" compensatory increase proposal of 2% in each year of the next contract.

We've said it before and we'll say it again, IAPE members need real wage increases in this contract. We'll be serious and honest in return: the IAPE bargaining unit has shouldered the load for far too long. 2% pay increases just aren't enough anymore — especially when we see a restatement of other objectionable proposals like an elimination of time-and-one-half for hours 35-40 in a workweek and an attempt to resolve pay equity issues by limiting raises for top wage earners.

IAPE and Dow Jones will return to the bargaining table next Tuesday. In the meantime, we'll look for ways to move these obstacles out of our way. We fully expect the Company to push back — with the strength of the IAPE membership behind us, we're confident we'll prevail.