WSJ Union Leader: “This is not the best contract we could have gotten.”

Looks like not everyone’s on the same page within the union that represents the bulk of Wall Street Journal employees.

On Sunday, local 1096 president Steve Yount emailed members to announce that after months of contentious negotiations, the union board of directors had reached a tentative deal with Dow Jones management and was passing along the new contract offer with a recommendation to ratify it.

Now, some key players in the union appear less than thrilled with the proposed contract—not to mention, with Mr. Yount’s role in negotiating it.

Wrote Jim Browning, a Journal reporter and union representative, in a bulk email today: “This is not the best contract that we could have gotten.”

Here's Browning's full memo:

Colleagues,

It is with some sadness that I relay the news that the union board voted on Saturday to accept the company’s final contract offer, with some additional protection against inflation for you that was won at the last minute. The board will send it to you with a recommendation that you ratify it.

This is not the best contract that we could have gotten. But the union board had little choice. Unfortunately, our union president concluded some weeks ago that there was no point in fighting further. Although he and I disagreed heatedly, I was unable to change his mind. As company negotiators realized where he stood, it became impossible for the bargaining team to win any further concessions.

I told the union board on Saturday that this is the best contract we can get without stronger leadership at the top. It is not possible for us to fight against the company and the union president at the same time.

The task you face now is to decide whether you can mount credible opposition to this deal. We can not fight for a better deal unless we are totally united and determined and prepared to take risks. That is not the case now.

I want to thank you for your unfailing support for our bargaining efforts. You can be proud of what you have achieved, even though it falls short of your goals. Our package of raises, healthcare protection and company retirement contributions is better than that of just about any other major media company – something that will always be worth fighting for. What we got is far better than we would have received if not for your efforts.

Although the raises in this proposal are not high enough, and the healthcare premiums and drug costs are too high, and there are other defects, the proposal contains a number of clear improvements over the past. Those include an annual cap on drug costs, coverage of annual physicals and immunizations for your whole family, more vacation time and more money for emergency childcare. If you lose your job to outsourcing, you will get extra severance. Starting next year, the salary cap will be eliminated and those with higher incomes will receive the full raise, which has not been the case for years.

You will have to decide whether it is realistic to turn down this deal and try to fight for more.

Regardless of what you decide, I must tell you that your conduct during this battle has made my respect for you even greater than it already was. It has been a privilege to serve you.

I am sending this to all the people whose email addresses I have. I am sure I have missed some people. Please relay it to anyone who didn’t get it.

Jim Browning