It seemed like old times as members of the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild gathered for a rally across from Seattle Times headquarters.
Well, there were fewer chain-link fences in evidence, but the issues sounded familiar. The Guild called the March 8 rally because some 96 Guild-represented employees haven't been called back to work. Another 22 workers in the paper's composing room have also not been asked to return to their jobs in the two months since the Guild's strike against Seattle's two daily newspapers was settled.
The Guild says that at least 20 of the affected workers have been idled because other Times employees are in their jobs. While the strike settlement agreement clearly states, "Temporary replacements shall be displaced by returning strikers," management argues that only outside workers hired during the strike are affected—not longtime Times employees who were transferred or promoted to new positions during the work stoppage. The Guild responds that when you can't return to work because someone else has been given your job, that person is, by definition, a replacement worker.
"Whether they came from outside or from inside, they're in our jobs and they need to get out," says Guild President Ruth Schubert, a reporter at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
These "internal replacements" are especially plentiful in the circulation and advertising departments, where, union officials say, workers were promised promotions for crossing the picket line and returning to work.
Other workers say they haven't been called back to work for other reasons. Circulation statistician Jack Hayes suspects that Times management is keeping him out until circulation figures rebound from the strike subscription boycott. "If I report the right numbers, they won't be able to charge as much [for ads]," he says.
The Guild is encouraging Seattle residents to write letters to the Times in protest of the newspaper's actions, but their rally may have already gotten management's attention. The next day, Managing Editor Alex MacLeod informed editorial department employees that some 32 of their co-workers will be called back to work on April 9. Included on the callback list are longtime columnist Emmett Watson and several copy editors, including Yoko Kuramoto-Eidsmoe, one of the speakers at the rally.