Some companies work well with their employees’ unions. Some companies tolerate them. And some companies—like TEGNA, the media company that used to be Gannett—seeks to find the most small-minded ways to make union members’ lives miserable.
Last year, TEGNA spun off Gannett’s publishing assets. Now TEGNA owns TV stations. Last year, it became clear that TEGNA was seeking to purge its stations of union members, by getting union employees to leave and hiring non-union employees in their place.
One way to get union employees to leave: treat them like shit to the maximum extent possible. One great way to do that: nitpick and refuse to grant them any perk, no matter how tiny, that is not spelled out firmly in their contract. The TV news site FTVLive reports that TEGNA is now doing just that. First, the story says that TEGNA denied only unionized employees access to an employee discount program, just because they could. And then, in an even more assholish move, the company refused to include union members in a program that reimbursed workers for parking fees that they had to pay when one of their stations relocated to a new building with insufficient parking. FTVLive quotes an email from a TEGNA executive telling one union employee, “The current collective bargaining agreement does not require a parking subsidy for IATSE represented employees, hence the new Station parking subsidy benefit is not automatically applicable to IATSE represented employees.”
The company willingly offered the parking subsidy to its employees, because it knew that it was necessary, but refused to offer it to union members, because it was not spelled out in their contract, which was drawn up before they needed parking subsidies. Cool. (We’ve emailed TEGNA’s spokesperson and will update if they comment.)
Unfortunately for TEGNA, treating your employees like shit tends to make them embrace their union more, not less.