Guild files an unfair labor practice charge

The News Guild of Maine today filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board against MaineToday Acquisitions Inc. for illegally cutting employee benefits.  We are also seeking an injunction to prevent the benefits reduction.

When you were hired by the company on June 1, you signed a letter that spelled out the terms and conditions of employment. The letter stated: “Employees will remain enrolled in their current health, life insurance, short-term and long-term disability and 401K plans.”

Now the company has changed the health and dental plans for 2016. Under the new plans many employees will face higher costs and take on higher financial risks.  For an employee with a family plan, for example, the deductible will increase by $1,000 annually. A few members would have to find new health care providers because their current providers aren’t part of the new insurance company’s network.

While we were willing to put the matter up for a vote and let members decide, the company insisted that the vote take place within 24 hours. That wasn’t enough time for members to understand the options, and the quick vote would have violated our bylaws. This short deadline was especially unreasonable, given that the company had known about the increase in insurance premiums in early September, but didn’t present the problem to us until Oct. 21.

We worry now that the company will disregard other parts of the terms and conditions of employment.

I know that employees want the union and the company to get along so we can all focus on doing our jobs and helping increase company revenues. But we can’t just sit back and allow the company to break federal labor law without consequences. The company’s action undermines the union’s ability and legal obligation to represent its members. That is why we filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board. We have also issued a press release, which is attached to this message.

Although we are taking legal action, this is not problem that lawyers can solve for us.  Pressure from the community and from employees will be needed to convince the company to bargain fairly.

We are not alone. The other two unions in the company are supporting us in our efforts for a fair contract, and so are all the unions in Maine.

In Solidarity

Tom Bell