September 14, 2016

The Dow Jones Hard Line Continues

We thought Tuesday's contract negotiating session might produce a more reasonable overture from the company in light of your recent letters to Will Lewis, or at least a more collaborative discussion. That didn't happen.

Apparently when Mr. Lewis told you the two sides at the negotiating table "will continue to talk to reach agreement on pay," he meant that Dow Jones would continue to make the same unsatisfactory offer that prompted you to write him in the first place. This is disappointing.

The company's "new" proposalcontinues to offer the same 2% salary increases that were included in the last contract, as well as in its earlier proposals from recent weeks. But as we've told you in previous notes, Dow Jones also continues to ratchet up your share of the bill for health care benefits, which means the company is taking some of that money right back from you. And it wants to do more of the same, meaning that supposed 2% boost, which is modest anyway, is illusory.

That's why we've been pushing the company to do better. Our current proposal calls for annual raises of 3.5%/4.5%/4.5% over the next three years. This would at least make up for the additional health care costs and begin to get you closer to employees at competing news organizations who are better compensated. Mr. Lewis calls our proposal "unrealistic." We've signaled a willingness to compromise but his negotiators Tuesday showed no intention of making any kind of reasonable counter offer. Not one dollar more.

Did you know that boosting raises an additional 1% for all IAPE-represented employees this year would cost Dow Jones about $1 million?

News Corp revenues for the last year were $8.3 billion.

In other news from Tuesday, the two sides discussed another major sticking point in these negotiations: DJ's system providing for premium pay and comp time for employees who have to work on the weekend or a scheduled day off.

The current system is broken, with few employees understanding how to make use of it. The result has been the company has gotten a considerable amount of extra labor for free. DJ on Tuesday proposed changes to the system that would make it even less worker-friendly. We will prepare a counter offer for the next round of talks.

If you're bothered by the company's negotiating positions, now is the time to object — vocally. Dow Jones has made clear it has no plans to do better unless we force them to.

Over the next few days, IAPE reps will be working on ways to make our message to Dow Jones management more visible. As always, your support in these efforts will be vitally important.