AT THE SEATTLE TIMES, it's traditional to celebrate your employment anniversary with a cake.
Of course, it's also traditional to show up for your own party, but that hasn't worked out for Ivan Weiss. The senior man on the Times copydesk, Weiss hasn't yet been called back to work after the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild's recent newspaper strike. His 33rd anniversary of service at the Times was January 30; co-workers served cake anyway to draw attention to his absence.
His colleagues suspect Ivan's long wait is payback for his role in the strike. His outspoken comments were featured in television, radio, and newspapers (and occasionally offered to Times higher-ups crossing the picket line). Weiss says he appreciates the backing of his coworkers (including the production of "Where's Ivan?" lapel buttons) but says he doesn't want to come off as a whiner or a victim. "I fully expected something like this to happen," he says. "I'm certainly prepared to accept the consequences of my actions."
He isn't alone; the Guild Web site lists 151 employees waiting to return: 22 in advertising, nine in corporate marketing, 49 in circulation, and 71 in the newsroom. Times spokesperson Kerry Coughlin says these numbers aren't necessarily accurate, as employees are constantly being called back to work and many take advantage of the two-week reporting period. The company is required to bring all striking employees back within six months after January 9, the last day of the strike.
Weiss, who was hired out of graduate school by the Times in 1968, worked for 14 years as a sports reporter and editor before moving to the main copydesk. He also spent more than 20 years as a Guild shop steward. He says he'll find enough work to make ends meet during his time off and that he still isn't interested in taking the company up on the offer of early retirement or severance made to all employees. "My work there is not done," he says. "I'm there to build the union on the shop floor while restoring the newspaper to its former standing.
"I'm broke, but not broken."