The January 25 negotiations with Sun-Times Media management was mostly geared towards the effects regarding the consolidation and relocation of staff to the Sun-Times main office in downtown Chicago.
Management said the move of employees should be finished by March 25. A WARN Notice was posted and given to employees about the move, which is required by law to notify employees of any business office that will be closing that has 50 or more employees.
We asked management about the notice that was sent to employees about the move. Management said the move downtown only applies to editorial assistants and copy editors and it wants suburban reporters and photographers to remain out in the communities they cover.
Management also expressed a desire for editorial assistants and copy editors to let management know if they will be making the move downtown or not. Management said they are trying to “figure out who wants to work and who doesn’t.” Management said it already knows that a large number of employees “are not going to make the trip.”
Management said its desire to find out how many editorial assistants and copy editors, specifically, will be coming downtown saying: “What we don’t want to happen is they (EA’s) decide to come down and we have too many. We don’t want to have that happen. There is no guarantee that they will have a job (EAs and copy editors).”
The only group of editorial assistants management is undecided about whether or not they should come downtown are those in Joliet.
Management said that if all the editorial assistants come downtown there may be some “redundancy.” “There will be too many people there for what we are going to need. We need to know who is going to come downtown.”
Member’s of the union’s negotiation committee expressed their displeasure with this and pointed out the fact that many of the company’s editorial assistants could do their job from home if they were given the proper tools like a laptop. The “redundancy issue” was challenged saying that there is no redundancy and the editorial assistants have direct access to the community and moving them downtown would destroy that presence. The Guild also told management that the four Chicago Sun-Times EAs are overworked and need help.
In response to the Guild’s objections over the future of the EAs, management stated that it would consider letting all or some suburban EAs work out of their homes. Management said that it would have a response within the next week.
When asked about a similar job being posted on JournalismJobs.com by Wrapports management, management claimed it did not know anything about it and that it was a separate company.
The union raised questions about any areas the company will provide where reporters could conduct interviews, fax and make land-line phone calls. Management said there will probably be some storefronts set up at various locations or “hotelling,” a location where a reporter can do work and all of these locations would be a shared space. Management was not specific as to where these locations would be and when it would take place.The union expressed concern about the size of these areas, new work spaces in the newsroom downtown and outside the office in terms of being in compliance with the fire code.
Management said reporters would be given new phones and if photographers have faulty equipment they should inform their managers so it can be replaced.
The issue of mileage was brought up as well and while management said that mileage would begin at a reporter or photographer’s “first” assignment the union contends that since there will no longer be a set location where most reporters and photographers would be working, consequently their “home” would be their new office and that mileage would start from their home. Management did believe that might be the case, under law, once it was contested by members of the union’s negotiation committee.
With respect to reporters at the Chicago Sun-TImes, management is considering letting Chicago Sun-Times reporters work from their home with the exception of the general assignment reporters who must work from downtown.
The next negotiation meeting with management is scheduled at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, February 7. We will notify you about the location of the negotiation. The Guild’s negotiation committee will be meeting on Wednesday, February 6 to discuss its latest proposal in light of the company’s changes.
Guild Negotiation Committee