(Fairfield, New Jersey) – The following is an official statement from Steve Grant, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 1100 in Fairfield, N.J. which represents 195 mailer employees at the Star-Ledger newspaper:
“We take issue with several assertions Richard Vezza, the publisher of the Star-Ledger, makes in a letter he published in yesterday’s edition. Vezza, who has not attended one of the bargaining sessions we have been at since January, appears to be under the impression that coming to an agreement with our bargaining unit must be done completely at the expense of our members. What he is asking for is a 44 percent across-the-board cut – the sort of cut which will eliminate these types of jobs as good, middle class jobs.
“For the record, unionized employees have been part of the Star-Ledger publication for decades. In that time, our dedicated employees have processed the paper by bundling, binding and inserting mailers into what we believe has been a quality product. Some of our members have been working as mailers for the entire time that the work has been unionized. Their personal investment in making this newspaper a success is clear.
“Over the years we have negotiated good contracts for our members as a result of their hard work, but now management essentially wants to strip away the foundation of what made jobs in the mailers department good, middle-class jobs. First they threatened us with outsourcing and now they plan to reduce the hours that some people work to just four days a week, thus avoiding responsibility for paying for health care. No one can earn a living or support a family on just four days of work. Is the Star-Ledger trying to follow the Walmart example?
“In another attack on the foundation of a good job, the company plans to stop contributing to our pension plan, and other retirement plans, despite the fact that the pension plan is fully funded due to 1.6 million in wage diversions by our union.
“Our union has already made great strides to come to terms with management’s demand for their 44 percent cut – which translates into $4.433 million. In fact we have offered a proposal with well over $2 million in savings at great sacrifice to our union. Now we believe that the Star-Ledger can and should be able to offer our members a plan that we can agree on. We call on Richard Vezza to guarantee his presence at our next bargaining session so that we can lay out the facts of our investment in this paper for him.”