NewsGuild members at new Tribune units prepare for joint bargaining

June 10, 2019 – For the first time since their amazing organizing run started last year, union members representing the nine newly organized Tribune bargaining units met in one place.

They came from Chicago, from Hartford, from Allentown. They came from Tidewater units in southeast Virginia and Chesapeake units in Maryland.

Nine people from different units in different parts of the country met for a two-day bargaining training session June 7-8 at the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies (MITAGS), just outside Baltimore, Md.

The training is the first step in the joint bargaining effort started by the Guild earlier this year. In late May, the Guild and the Tribune Company reached agreement on a set of ground rules for joint bargaining, allowing the company and representatives of the new units to meet at the same bargaining table. The hope is to offer a speedier process toward first agreements that makes it easier for units to maintain coordinated positions and mobilizing while building a community around the new units.

All nine new units voted to participate in the process. Participation in the process is completely voluntary and any bargaining unit can bow out at any time. The plan is to start with a set of fundamental issues common to all units, then try to keep the joint bargaining going into economic issues, if the parties wish. However, it’s likely that some issues will have to be handled through individual unit bargaining.

The process mirrors in some ways the joint bargaining done by Digital First Media and GateHouse bargaining units in recent years.

Though the bargaining will be done in Chicago, Washington DC or Baltimore, there will be representatives from all bargaining units at every session. Those representatives will be liaisons between the “Table Team” and the individual units’ bargaining committees.

During the training, NewsGuild staffers went over bargaining basics, then discussed proposed contract language developed by the Chicago, Tidewater and Chesapeake units to develop joint proposals that the Table Team could agree upon. Hartford and Allentown are just starting the writing process, and did not have proposals to compare on the fundamental issues. Participants will be taking this work back to their individual bargaining units.