"Darth Vega and the Evil Empire"
by Bruce Carlton
I DON'T KNOW HOW many people in the San Francisco Bay Area picked up the
May 4-10, 2005 edition of the S.F. Weekly and read the two stories by
Tommy Craggs about the poor San Francisco Chronicle a Hearst Corporation
Newspaper. They are reportedly losing $60 million dollars a year. I don't
know if that includes the $60 million they gave to the Fang family for
taking over the Examiner. Or I guess it could mean they were making $120
million a year and now they are only making $60 million? He tries to paint
Frank Vega from the Detroit Free Press, "UNION" buster extraordinar and
the new President and Publisher of the Chronicle as a decent person that
was just brought on board to help the Hearst Company stop the bleeding.
This guy poses for a picture wearing a Darth Vega helmet, black shirt and
gloats at the fact that he earned the nick name Darth Vega in the Detroit
area for his skills at planning and setting up the "STRIKE" at the Detroit
Free Press in 1995 which lasted six years. Since his arrival he has
brought in his own team of managers. There has been a walkthrough with a
private security firm at the three printing plant facilities and
surveillance cameras are being installed in all pressrooms. To find out
more about Vega check out the following web sites,
www.labornet.org/news/0205/fightsf.htm and www.labornet.org/news/1204/vega.htm.
San Francisco Web Pressmen and Prepress Workers' Union No. 4 has been trying
to setup contract negotiation meetings for 2 years with Richard Jordan Vice
President employee relations, management's contract negotiator. He puts on
a Columbo act, looks like he just woke up after a nights sleep in his car.
I think we should get him a makeover on the Maury Povich Show. This guy is
the MASTER of deception. The notorious "UNION" busting law firm of King &
Ballow could learn a few tricks from Richard. He can turn a 3 hour meeting
into 3 months. Reinterpret contract language that has existed for 20+ years
into management's favor. He holds the record for canceling arbitration's
and meetings. He has cried wolf so many times you don't know when he is
telling the truth. And when he does make a meeting it's usually late.
Our contract expires on July 1 of this year. It seems like management is
in no hurry to sit down at the table and bargain in good faith. Our "UNION"
was recently given a contract proposal that is pure shit. What it amounts
to is just be glad you have a job. If Vegas goal is not to shove the
"UNIONS" back into the dark ages of labor then he sure has a funny way of
showing it. Their is no way Web Pressmen and Prepress Workers' Union No. 4
will have a contract before July 1st. The mailers and teamsters "UNION"
have sidestepped the C.N.U. "Conference of Newspaper Unions" by ratifying
contracts on their own. To make things worse they signed a "NO STRIKE"
clause, how can you belong to a "UNION" and agree to something like that!
It would be like going to war without a weapon. Old man Hoffa must be
spinning in his grave. It sounds like the "UNION" leadership that Tommy
Craggs talked to is already packing it in. Who is to say the Chronicle is
actually losing money. Who did they open their books to and if so I
would like to think they went back seven years. Lets hope the books
weren't cooked! I'm sure they were making money hand over fist during the
boom days of the dot com era. During the seven-year contract the
Pressmen's Union has had to give up four raises for Health & Welfare
increases. The people that are losing money are the "UNION" Employees.
Wages have not kept up with the rate of inflation, especially if you have
to give up raises for Health & Welfare increases! How come no one spoke to
any of the Pressmen, Electrician or Machinist "UNION" representatives or
Doug Cuthbertson, head of the Conference of Newspaper Unions. In the past
the "UNION" has asked for profit sharing but the Hearst Corporation has
never wanted to open their books. At one of previous Publisher and
President Steve Falks fireside chats he said the companywas losing money so
I asked him if we could lose money too! Why not have profit sharing! The
"UNIONS" don't want to bankrupt the company. If you lose money we lose
money, if you make money we make money. His reply. We aren't going to
open our books and we aren't going to have profit sharing!! So much for
Dear Colleague. If you really want employees to put out you have got to
share the good with the bad. Don't piss on their boots and tell them its
raining. In the 41 years I have been working for the Hearst Corporation
when it comes to contract talks they haven't been making any money. I bet
if we had profit sharing I would have been able to retire 10 years ago.
Corporate greed and CEO self indulgence is running rampant in this country.
Who said the contracts at the Chronicle were the best in the country?
Anyone that works in the pressroom would not agree! We have some of the
worst equipment in the trade, least amount of manning on the press and make
less than any other major metropolitan "Union" newspaper. I sometimes feel
like the "Little Tramp" character in the Charlie Chaplain movie Modern
Times. We should have parity with the New York Times since we have
bypassed them as the most expensive area to live in. Could it be that
writer Tommy Craggs is looking to get a job at the Chronicle? He doesn't
even know the difference between a replacement worker and a scab. (SCAB)
an individual that goes through a "UNION" picket line and takes a "UNION"
members job. (REPLACEMENT WORKER) weapon of mass deception, lets not get
caught up in the Corporate spin! The Chronicle is just a blip compared to
the overall earnings of the Hearst Corporation. It is worrisome how
Corporations will filter down money from their other holdings to brake a
"UNION" but when it comes to giving their employees a living wage there is
no trickle down. Gannett & Knight-Ridder, owners of the Detroit Free Press
lost millions of dollars over the 2 1/2 year strike, plus much of their
circulation that to this day hasn't returned. They were willing to spend
more money to make an example of organized labor than to just give the
"UNION" employees a decent contract. This wasn't about them not having the
money this is about having a "UNION" free environment in this country. I
wouldn't be surprised if other Corporations donated money to the cause.
So much for Reaganomics, give tax brakes to the Corporations and they will
trickle the money down to the workers. The Hearst Corporation is finishing
up construction of its new $500 million dollar 42 story 856,000 sq. ft.
headquarters in Midtown New York and is in the process of building a Luxury
100-room Hotel in the San Simeon area. Thank God this isn't Detroit and
remember Darth Vader and the EVIL EMPIRE were defeated by Luke Skywalker,
Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa. May the force be with us.
Member of San Francisco
Web Pressmen & Prepress Workers' Union No.4