“I don’t know.”
That was the response Sun-Times negotiators gave during the latest bargaining session to several questions Chicago Newspaper Guild’s bargaining committee had asked.
The bargaining committee submitted a 35-question list July 15 asking Sun-Times Media about the following subject areas: restructuring the company into CST Group and STM Local; how Wrapports employees are classified now that the Grid and Splash are part of the restructured company; and how do Aggrego “content providers” fit within the structure.
Sun-Times negotiator Ted Rilea told the bargaining committee that he had answers to 15 of the 35 questions. Company negotiators were able to answer some specific questions about who had final editorial say in content—Jim Kirk for CST and Rob Elder for STM Local.
Company negotiators could not answer questions about Aggrego employees or Wrapports employees. Guild bargaining members made it clear to company negotiators that Pioneer Press Guild members are concerned about the Aggrego “content providers” identifying themselves as Wrapports and soliciting content that Guild reporters do.
Guild bargaining committee members raised an issue with the July 12 memo that stated the company would not reimburse suburban reporters mileage from their home offices to their first assignment. Rilea admitted that the company had sent out the memo saying that suburban reporters whose newsrooms closed were to consider their homes to be their offices.
No decision was reached about the mileage issue at the July 24 bargaining session.
Company negotiators said they were not part of the decision-making when Guild bargaining committee members pointed out all the surprises that have been thrown at the Guild in the midst of trying to agree on a contract. Those surprises include closing down the suburban offices, the mileage reimbursement issue and firing the photographers.
Chicago Newspaper Guild also gave company negotiators a proposal to reinstate all terminated photographers with full backpay and restoration of benefits and seniority. That proposal was not discussed at the July 24 bargaining session.
The next bargaining session is scheduled for August 8, at which time the company is expected to answer questions about Aggrego.