Local Updates, Bargaining and Organizing!

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With a contract set to expire June 10, the Washington Post Guild unit has established a bargaining committee: Freddy Kunkle (Newsroom chair), David DeJesus (Commercial chair), Pat Jacob, Sarah Mark, Stephen Richardson, Tim Smith, and Tom Jackman (alternate). The current Guild contract at the Post covers more than 850 workers. Rick Ehrmann has been the Post’s Guild representative at the bargaining table since 2002.

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network bargaining committee consists of Kari O’Donnell, Shemique Lindo, and Local Representative Paul Reilly. The RAINN unit’s initial Guild contract was signed in 2015 and expires May 31. The agreement covers about 60 employees.

At National Association of Social Workers headquarters, the nearly 30 workers covered by a Guild contract on April 10 approved a two-year extension of the agreement that was to expire June 30. NASW staff will receive an immediate 3 percent wage increase and a 2.5 percent increase July 1, 2018. WBNG has represented NASW staff since 2010.

June 30 also is the expiration date for the WBNG contract at the headquarters of CASA. The organization works to improve the quality of life in low-income Latino and immigrant communities. Most of the 60 employees under Guild jurisdiction work in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, but CASA also has offices in Falls Church and Woodbridge, Va., and in York, Penn.

In other bargaining news, TNG Local 32035 is currently in negotiations over initial contracts with the FP Group (ForeignPolicy.com), where 20 staffers were granted union recognition by management last summer, and at The Advancement Project, a Washington-based nonprofit at which a 15-member Guild shop was organized in January.

Ratified! We Have a Contract!

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In voting completed last week, Guild members unanimously approved a first contract with RAINN that provides guaranteed pay raises, paid vacation, paid sick leave, overnight shift differential, and protection against unjust discipline.

All non-probationary employees will get a three percent pay raise effective June 5 (date of ratifica- tion) and another three percent increase next June. Employees working the overnight shift will receive a $2-per-hour shift differential.

In addition to now accruing vacation based on length of service, Guild-covered employees will earn the equivalent of one extra week of vacation (pro-rated based on hours) in lieu of the Christmas- New Year’s week off. There also are eleven paid holidays.

In addition to all the economic gains, we won strong job security language which ties layoffs to seniority and protects against unjust discipline or discharge. Any contract disputes now will be resolved by using the grievance and arbitration process contained in the contract.

Thanks to all who helped first to organize the union and who spent countless hours helping to bargain the contract: Theresa Dill, Mo-Yain Tham, Jim Sullivan, Chris Pitocchelli, Naomi Pomerantz, and Shannarese Sims.

UNIT CLARIFICATION

A decision is expected soon on whether the bi-lingual employees of the National Sexual Assault Hotline will become Guild-represented.

The Guild asked the federal National Labor Relations Board to include the NSAH Shift Leads and Support Specialists in the Guild bargaining unit because the work they do is identical to the work per- formed by SHL staff.

A one-day unit clarification hearing before the NLRB was held May 12. The Guild contends RAINN shifted the work out of the bargaining unit in an effort to undercut the union.

If the NLRB rules in our favor, the NSAH staff will be covered under our just-ratified first con- tract.

CONFIDENTIALITY BREACH?

There has been some talk that confidential information was improperly shared with the union’s attorney as part of our effort to bring the bi-lingual staff under the Guild contract.

That is incorrect.

As part of the unit clarification, the Union was entitled to any information that would help us show that RAINN improperly shifted our work to the bi-lingual staff in an attempt to undermine the union. The document at issue was information the union was entitled to. In an abundance of caution, and at the request of RAINN’s attorney, the Union agreed not to introduce the document into evidence at the hearing.

There was never a breach of confidentiality.

Progress, but One Major Issue Remains: Fairness

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Guild negotiators are continuing to work toward a first collective bargaining agreement with RAINN management that recognizes our dedication — and no longer treats us like second-class citizens.

The last real issue is fairness.

We don’t think it’s fair that we get less vacation than every other employee of RAINN. Every em- ployee of RAINN — except for us — either gets the week between Christmas and New Year’s off or — in the case of the shift managers, get an extra week of vacation on their hire date anniversary.

We’ve told management all we want is what every other RAINN employee has. Nothing more — and definitely nothing less.

We don’t think it’s fair that unjust disciplines that have been issued by inexperienced, untrained supervisors should be allowed to stand until there’s a grievance process in place when we get our first contract.

We don’t think it’s fair for RAINN to gag its employees by barring us from doing such things as leafleting or conducting an informational picket line if we believe we’re being treated unjustly. Unfair and ironic when you think about it. RAINN exists to give a voice to sexual violence survivors — but wants to silence its own workers.

We don’t think it’s fair to propose a shift differential for overnight workers that amounts to $6 a shift (before taxes).

And we certainly don’t think it’s fair that the top RAINN executive makes as much — and proba- bly more — than ALL the staffers COMBINED.

That’s especially unfair when you consider RAINN’s wage increase proposal: 32 cents an hour for staffers on June 1. 2015. ASMs would get a whopping increase of 34 cents an hour in June. That’s two percent above current wages.

Let’s compare that to Scott Berkowitz’s compensation. Based on IRS filings by RAINN, Scott’s sal- ary went from $168,000 in 2010 to $293,000 in 2012 (the most recent IRS filing available). That’s a 74 percent increase in two years.

ONE ISSUE: FAIRNESS

ONE DEMAND: FAIRNESS

RAINN Workers Vote for Representation by WBNG

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Workers at a nonprofit dedicated to helping victims of sexual abuse have acted in overwhelming numbers to help themselves by voting for union representation through the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild.

By a 32-6 count, the employees of the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) overcame a management campaign against the Guild.

Another 17 positions are in dispute. RAINN claimed that the 17 were promoted into supervisorial jobs prior to the vote (May 18 and 20) and thus not eligible for union representation. Their votes were not counted, but the 32 “Yes” ballots confirm that WBNG will be representing as many as 60 workers.

The workers directly counsel sex abuse victims who mostly contact RAINN on-line. Much of the 20-year-old organization’s funding comes from the Department of Defense.

Almost all of the Guild-covered employees are part-timers who get no benefits – no sick leave, no vacation, no health insurance – and most are paid around $15 per hour. RAINN reported that as of a year ago, its executive director’s annual salary was $293,000.

RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline. According to the organization’s “About Us” Web page, Worth magazine credits the anti-violence organization with being one of “America’s 100 Best Charities.”