What does it all mean?
Guild and Times bargainers spent Tuesday's session searching for meaning.
Specifically, we're trying to get to the bottom of what the company's "management rights" proposal is trying to say.
The company's original proposal on Article 26.1 is to add the following language to the contract:
"All management functions which the Publisher has not modified or restricted by a specific provision of this Agreement are retained and vested exclusively in the Publisher."
Both sides have since added and subtracted some language to this proposal, in an attempt to clarify and to reach common ground.
This clause was in the contract from 1986 to 2000, but was left out (because of management's error) of the contract ratified at the end of the strike.
The company's position is that because the deletion was inadvertent, it should be restored to the contract. Our position is that anything the membership didn't vote for should be treated as new language to the contract.
So with that in mind, we started asking some questions.
Times Labor Relations Director Chris Biencourt said that a management-functions clause is to reserve for management decisions such as what products the company's going to make, how many employees it's going to have, and where the business will be located.
We're OK with that, but as Guild Administrative Officer Liz Brown pointed out, those are rights that management has inherently, with or without this kind of clause.
Because we think the company already has those kinds of rights, we asked several questions to try to figure out what inclusion of this clause would mean.
The problem the company faces is this: Because the clause used to be in the contract, if it gets left out of the contract, the union can use the absence against the company in an arbitration. When something comes out of a contract, arbitrators interpret that as meaning something.
The problem the union faces is this: If we add this to a contract that doesn't currently include it, the company could assert that it has brand-new rights that it didn't have before, and that could give it extra weight in an arbitration as well.
We don't want to accept language that would in any way limit our ability to bargain over company decisions that would negatively affect members.
The Guild bargaining team is attempting to work out a compromise that would address the concerns from both sides, and hopes to be able to resolve this last outstanding issue at Wednesday's session.