Philly Blunt

Freelance writer. Editor and web-video producer. Former Atlantic City Press and Philadelphia Weekly staff writer, City Paper managing editor/columnist and Dougherty for Senate campaign manager. Comments welcome here or emailed to brianhickey9 [at] hotmail. Now on: Facebook (Brian Hickey, in Philly) Twitter at www.twitter.com/brianhickey Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/people/brianhickey/. Be sure to check out Hickey on Divorce Court: divorcecourting.blogspot.com.

27 August 2009

Wherein Hickey seizes the opportunity to type "ethicrapes" in the second sentence

I've never been one for front-page ads, even those stickers. It cheapens the product and ethicrapes everything upon which I was taught journalism represents. But when the field has been hacked off at the knees, well, you make do. I get that. So do you. And so does my friend, let's call him "Anonymous Writer," who emailed with concerns about his employer's "Keep It Local" campaign.
Full disclosure: I signed up for the Keep It Local Twitter last night since not much is more important to me than ensuring the survival (and growth) of the Inky, Daily News and philly.com; in that respect, I feel like John Smith staring down Doyle's and Strozzi's gangs in Jericho (Google it; I did.) With no further ado, Anonymous Writer:

Have you noticed the campaign to KEEP IT LOCAL, including a full page ad today? This propaganda effort is clearly nothing but spin and ego, but to what end? Will public support -- except for buying a helluva lot more papers -- in any way KEEP IT LOCAL? No.
This campaign can be aimed at only two things: Influencing the judge, which is a questionable exercise under any circumstance, and creating a hostile enevironment for the senior creditors should they take over the operation. As you can see from the email below, the GUILD is not sure who will be better for the likes of me and other workers, but that once again Tierney's public actions do not mirror his behind the scenes maneuvering. KEEP IT LOCAL is nothing more than Brian saying KEEP IT MINE.
"Anonymously" yours.


Dear Guild member,
This afternoon, Guild leadership agreed to the 30-day-contract-extension proposed by Philadelphia Newspapers, which locks in the current terms and conditions of our contract until September 30, 2009. As we have previously stated our focus is not on the next 30 days, the Guild wants to bargain a contract to protect our members for several years.

The Guild has filed an Unfair Labor Practice Charge with the National Labor Relations Board because the company has refused to meet with us and engage in collective bargaining as required by the National Labor Relations Act. The Regional Directors' investigation is still pending. According to our legal counsel, in all likelihood, the investigation will not be completed before our contract expires and while the charge filing itself would have protected our contract, we have agreed to the 30-day-extension to provide more assurance to the membership that our working conditions remain in effect.

Brian Tierney told meetings full of our members on Monday that he expects to commence union bargaining by mid-September. What is unclear is with whom the Guild and the other unions employed by Philadelphia Newspapers will be bargaining.

We could be negotiating with Philadelphia Newspapers, or the “Stalking Horse” bidder, the new company comprised of Bruce Toll, the Carpenters Pension and Annuity Fund and Penn Matrix Investments, which, subject to the approval of the reorganization plan filed by Philadelphia Newspapers, could become the new owners of the Inquirer and Daily News. According to PN’s reorganization plan, the new company, Philly Papers, LLC, would not be obligated to assume existing conditions and obligations to our contract, including obligations to meet pension funding requirements under federal law.

The Guild could also end up bargaining with the senior lenders in the event they assume control of the enterprise. The senior lenders have asked the court’s permission to engage in contract talks with all of the unions employed by Philadelphia Newspapers. A bankruptcy court decision on that motion is expected by Friday at the latest. We want a contract that preserves and protects our wages, benefits and standard of living, and welcome the opportunity to bargain with whatever entity wishes to negotiate with us.

We have scheduled a general membership meeting for 6 p.m. Monday August 31, 2009 at the Guild Hall (1329 Buttonwood Street) in order to further discuss the status of our contract and other issues related to the bankruptcy and any potential sale or ownership transfer of the company and/or the newspapers. Please try to attend.

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