WSJ journalists urge “no” vote on new contract
A group of Wall Street Journal journalists sent out the following message regarding the proposed new union contract:
Dear fellow IAPE members,
Today you got an email with details about the contract put forward by our union leadership and Dow Jones. You may have noticed that IAPE sent it out without a recommendation to support or reject it.
We are writing now to explain that we plan to vote against the contract and why we urge you to consider voting “no” as well.
1. The three-year contract calls for raises at a disappointing 2%, even though many of us will be called on to work harder and do more–without adequate overtime pay for many in the newsroom–once layoffs and buyouts are completed.
2. The company rejected every effort to secure a one-time signing bonus, even a small one.
3. The company rejected many efforts to implement a profit-sharing mechanism that would allow us to share in gains if the business improves. Though the proposed deal calls for an incentive program to be established, the details remain murky and such a program may prove to be as valuable as the nearly-nonexistent merit raises the company also has latitude to give.
4. Dow Jones wants the option to pull out of the agreement after the first year, which our colleagues on the bargaining committee have said seems likely. The only reason the company would want that is so it could negotiate a lower raise, benefit cuts or other worse terms for us. This clause bakes in a lot more uncertainty for employees and means that in the event of an early termination, we will be back to where we are now—but potentially in a weaker position.
We know that the advertising drop-off is real and that the media industry is going through a very tough stretch. But before you believe management’s dire warnings about the health of News Corp and Dow Jones, consider this: News Corp paid $147 million in dividends to shareholders in FY2016, a whopping two-thirds of company profits. That money could have been reinvested in the business by, for example, giving a fair raise to the employees whose hard work keeps subscribers paying for Dow Jones products. Or it could have fast-tracked the development of new products and services to replace declining advertising revenues.
Keep in mind that every 1% raise for IAPE members costs Dow Jones about $1 million, according to the union.
We know that it has been difficult to work without a contract. But we think rejecting this agreement sends a message to the company that we are worth more—whether that means more money, more certainty about the future or some other protections and guarantees. And even if this contract passes, a strong “no” vote sends an important message to management: A lot of us are ready to fight for better.
To be sure, a “No” vote is not the end of our commitment; we must recognize it as a pledge to step up our organizing in each location to show management that WE truly power Dow Jones, and should be compensated accordingly.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and please reach out to any of us if you have questions or want to talk.
Timothy W. Martin
Christopher M. Matthews
Michael M. Phillips