Blade Unions to Stage Solidarity RallyWritten by Michael Brooks | | email@example.com
Members of the Toledo Council of Newspaper Unions, which represents the union employees of the Toledo Blade, will hold a solidarity rally next Monday, April 10 from 4:30-6 pm.
Members from the council as well as other area unions will be in attendance. A similar rally in March drew approximately 600 supporters.
Block Communications Inc. (BCI) is currently in contract talks with most of its Toledo newspaper unions, and the contracts with the Blade’s union employees expire March 21.
Council spokesman Larry Vellequette said that the Blade employees have received ”tremendous support” from other area unions.
”We have received support from the UAW, AFSCME, the AFL-CIO, and many other smaller unions,” he said. ”There are many people in the community who are alarmed at the unwillingness of the Blade’s negotiators to bargain in good faith.”
The rally will be held at Chub DeWolf Park, on the corner of Huron and Orange Streets.
Vellequette said that union members have been disappointed with the Blade’s contract offers.
There has not been a much movement by the company, and we are frustrated at the lack of progress,” he said. ”We’re not even sure they want to recognize the unions’ right to exist; the proposal put before would make union representation meaningless.”
Unlike past contracts, the company is not recognizing the joint council of eight unions. Instead BCI is addressing operational issues with the unions separately, and is attempting to negotiate separate contracts with separate dates and terms.
Vellequette said that it appears the Blade’s negotiators are taking a ”harder line” than they have in the past.
”The Blade and its owners appear to have taken a position that, after 72 years, they no longer want unionized employees working at the paper,” he said.
The council also unveiled a new Web site titled StoptheBlade.com, which includes a cancellation form for Blade subscribers.
”The cancellation forms are being collected if and when we need to call for a consumer boycott of the Blade,” said Vellequette. ”The paper’s negotiators have to realize that there will be economic repercussions if they don’t bargain in good faith.”
LuAnn Sharp, assisiting managing editor for The Blade, recently told Toledo Free Press, ”Talks are ongoing with seven of our eight unions,” adding that one union – the pressmen – has a contract through 2009. ”We have negotiating sessions scheduled all this week to try and reach agreements with the other unions.”