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Like Hutus and Tutsis, Serbs and Croatians, union and nonunion workers can't be told apart at a glance. But they know who they are and the divide can seem vast — as we see from the hot, angry exchange on this blog over the concessions the next owners of the bankrupt Sun-Times Media Group expect of their unions if the sale's to go through..
What unites these burdened workers is far greater than what divides them, an earnest observer like myself might think. But maybe not. The proposed terms would gut the unions, turn them into shells, and while a worker outside the unions might have no reason to care, the ones who belong, who know their local's history and have fought its battles, are understandably furious at being forced to pack it in.
I'm posting a pdf of the "Memorandum of Understanding and Offer of Settlement" messengered late last week to the Chicago Newspaper Guild's Sun-Times unit. It's hard to see what employee rights that editorial staff isn't being told surrender, aside from the right to their accrued vacations.
Tom Thibeault, executive director of the CNG, has called a meeting of the unit for Tuesday evening in the Holiday Inn above the Sun-Times offices on Orleans Street. Thibeault expects a vote on whether to swallow hard and accept financier Jim Tyree's harsh terms or reject them and hope to bargain something better. Meetings of the three other editorial units the CNG represents — at Pioneer Press and the STMG dailies in Joliet and Waukegan — will be held later in the week. CNG also represents Pioneer Press production workers, who'll meet to discuss the closing of the printing plant in Northfield.