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Newsday Union Members Reject “Horrible” Contract

Landslide rebuttal sends parties back to negotiating table

The members of Newsday’s largest union have resoundingly rejected a proposed contract from the Cablevision Systems Corp.-owned newspaper that sought pay cuts, a longer workweek and less vacation time.

Newsday headquarters in Melville. (Jonathan Fickies/Getty Images/AFP)

Members of the 1,100-strong Graphic Communications Conference/International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 406 voted overwhelmingly Jan. 24, 473 to 10, against the deal, which, among other sticking points, demanded 10-percent salary reductions for all employees, 15-percent pay cuts for delivery drivers, a 40-hour workweek and the loss of a week’s vacation.

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Local 406 President Michael O’Connor tells the Press the membership’s message is loud and clear:

“[They’re] very unhappy,” he says. “The membership spoke, clearly.”

Newsday employees expressed outrage over the tentative agreement’s terms when union leaders informed them earlier this month of the proposed concessions. Union officials also acknowledged their dissatisfaction.

“Again, we do not like them,” wrote union officer Zachary Dowdy in a Jan. 4 memo to the newspaper’s roughly 240-member editorial staff. “They are horrible and unprecedented in what they demand from Local 406 members.”

The rejection sends Cablevision-owned Newsday back to the negotiating table with the union, but there have been no indications from Long Island’s lone daily of any budging, explains O’Connor.

“It starts from scratch,” he says of negotiations.

The current contracts of Local 406’s six bargaining units expire at various times, O’Connor explains. Editorial’s ends April 1. Union members were originally scheduled to vote on the proposed contract Jan. 10, but postponed the decision until Jan. 24.

Newsday spokeswoman Deidra Parrish Williams provided the following statement regarding the rebuttal:

“The objective was to preserve as many jobs as possible and to ensure that Newsday remains a strong and viable company for its workforce, and for Long Island. These are important issues and they must be resolved. We are naturally disappointed by this outcome. We worked closely with the union to come up with a contract that is fair and equitable given the challenging state of our industry and our business.”

International Brotherhood of Teamsters Vice President At Large George Tedeschi, president of the Graphic Communications Conference of the Teamsters Union, has become “heavily involved” in the matter, says O’Connor. So has Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa, he added.

“The membership has unified and is ready for a fight,” says one current veteran Newsday employee. “Now it’s back to square one.”

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