Dow Jones staffers: Why we’re voting “yes” on new contract
The following was sent to members of the union that represents business journalists at Dow Jones & Co. properties The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and MarketWatch.com after some employees urged a “no” vote on Wednesday:
Dear fellow IAPE members,
Wednesday, you received an email detailing a tentative contract agreement between your union and the company. Member voting on that agreement begins Friday.
The IAPE Board of Directors voted Saturday, and agreed to take a neutral position on the tentative contract agreement.
Those of us who have signed below plan to vote “yes” for the contract. Here’s why we believe you should vote “yes” as well:
1. This contract would provide a 2% raise each year for three years without a health-care increase in the first year. Yes, we all want more. But it’s unlikely the company will agree to more given that they’re now discussing sharp advertising revenue declines and shedding employees through both buyouts and layoffs. We must consider also what is going on around us — at Reuters, at the New York Times, etc.
2. Yes, Dow Jones wants the option to back out of the agreement after one year, which bakes in uncertainty. That is not something any of us like. Again, now that that has been bargained in, the company is unlikely to back off under these circumstances. We would have more strength to bargain effectively when we are more unified, and when the company is not in the midst of cuts.
3. We do not appear to be unified in our willingness to take strong measures to fight the company, let alone strike. Several of you have mentioned that on our Slack channel. The folks in New York (1211) do not appear to have the appetite to display union items, such as T-shirts, etc. Hopefully, we will become more unified over time so that when we decide it makes sense to agitate, we can do so effectively. But a unified action or walkout at this point seems unlikely.
4. It’s the right thing to do for our colleagues who are being laid off or who are taking buyouts. If we reject this contract, it’s likely that these employees will no longer be on the payroll by the time this is settled. That shuts them out of their retroactive pay and any difference that a pay increase would have made to their severance pay or buyout package. They must be on the payroll when the contract is ratified to qualify for the back pay and the pay increase.
We’re sure you’ve all seen the news of bonuses to News Corp. executives, dividends to shareholders and other spending that angers you. We would all like a true three-year contract with no opportunity for the company to renegotiate it a year down the line, larger raises and no increases to our health care guaranteed for the full contract. But we have to be realistic as well: the advertising drop-off is real and what is happening to media outlets all around us is also real.
The company knows we are worth more. We can negotiate for more when/if online advertising picks up and we are more unified.
We urge you to vote “yes.”