外国特派員協会で異変が起きている。連名の文書が出回っているが、その日本語訳を入手したので、掲載する。有楽町にある外国特派員協会は、随時記者会見や情報提供が行われている、日本有数のマスコミ情報が交換される場所である。そうした場所の運営を巡る紛争である。当方ブログは市場原理主義の暗躍とその崩壊の感を強くしている。一部の者が、経営を支配するという典型的な手法が採用されていることを感じるからである。「The FCCJ is no more perfect than anything else. But whatever the FCCJ has done and whatever we have been has always been in the service of humanity, what is right and what one American once aptly referred to as the better angels of our collective nature. There is much to be proud of.」と日本語に訳された文書は記述しているが、同感である。
Karel van Wolferen（元FCCJ会
Dear Fellow Members of the FCCJ:
We who have signed this above are reaching out to you on behalf of a group of Regular and Associate members who are committed to preserving and defending the character, integrity and perhaps even the continued existence of the FCCJ. We regard the FCCJ as a tremendously important and vibrant organization that over many decades has played a vital role in the free and beneficial flow of news from East Asia to the rest of the world. We are committed to the FCCJ both in terms of the important role it plays on the national and international stage, and equally in terms of the cherished club standards and traditions we have come to love over the years. One can always find detractors. The FCCJ is no more perfect than anything else. But whatever the FCCJ has done and whatever we have been has always been in the service of humanity, what is right and what one American once aptly referred to as the better angels of our collective nature. There is much to be proud of.
You have no doubt been made aware of major changes at our beloved press club. These changes have now reduced the services of food and drink to a bare minimum, with no ready prospect of improvement in the foreseeable future. The dining room remains closed. You will have noticed that the staff serving you in the bar from a dramatically reduced menu does not know you, and in some cases has to confirm with you whether or not you're a member.
This is the result of misguided action by the FCCJ board. This action, which is little short of revolutionary, has been presented as being overwhelmingly supported by the FCCJ’s regular members. That is not true. At their quarterly membership meetings, the regular members have not voted for the complete lay off of our dining staff. They certainly did not vote for a closed dining room and the bare-bones catering that the membership at large (90% of whose revenues come from associates) is now asked to accept.
They did not vote for a totally unknown future as far as restaurant services are concerned. The membership voted for what it was told would become a better club. It voted for financial responsibility,
We have compiled the main facts of the story that we think you should be made aware of. We hope that this will encourage you to help put a stop to stop these developments and bring the club back to the one that you wanted to join and become a part of.
It should be clearly understood that the FCCJ's current crisis is not the result of insufficent income or of other financial difficulties. Neither is it the result of an overwhelming desire among the voting regular members for the major changes that are an inevitable byproduct of the outsourcing plan. These are crucial points. The FCCJ crisis is in fact a direct result of what appears to be a fixation on the part of the Club’s President, and misrepresentati
For many years, Mr. Baumgartner appears to have believed that overpaid and ineffective staff are the cause of the FCCJ's problems, and after his election as FCCJ president in June 2010 he apparently decided that he had gained a position enabling him to get rid of them. He apparently decided too that the regular staff, many of whom had served the Club loyally for years and become familiar with those of us who frequent the bar and dining room, should be terminated and replaced by an outsourcing company. Helping to overcome reluctant member support for such a plan, he enlisted the board’s treasurer, Jonathan Soble, who began producing reports stating that the financial state of the club was critical and heading for insolvency.
Mr. Soble’s financial analysis has been convincingly debunked in a letter by Stephen Church, a former long-term member (in good standing) of the Finance Committee whose position on the matter is the one broadly held by financial professionals in the club. Church has declared the FCCJ to be basically in good financial health, but plagued by the fact that no professional General Manager has been appointed to succeed Seishi Yoda.
In apparent contravention of Club rules, Baumgartner has refused to initiate the necessary search for a General Manager, and has claimed it to be a settled fact that the FCCJ is not capable of choosing an effective General Manager (which of course ignores a lot of FCCJ history).
In November 2010 Baumgartner wrote a column in No. 1 Shimbun (which subsequently was picked up by the Japanese national media) to the effect that the club was “going bankrupt." The regular membership was at no time given the opportunity to debate in a serious manner such misapprehension
The President has not been receptive to any appeal to reason or common sense, and attempts to initiate a serious discussion by a few members at the March 14 General Membership Meeting were cut short before a blizzard of proxy votes gave the board permission to negotiate an outsourcing deal with Alaska.
At the March 14 meeting, several members expressed grave concern about what would happen to the staff, and were repeatedly assured by the board that it would see to it that a large number of staff would be hired by the outsourcing company to ensure continuity in the atmosphere of bar and dining room and general fairness and decency to loyal, long-serving employees.
On February 28, Baumgartner had announced to all members a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Alaska and declared: "We have an agreement with Alaska so that they will be required to give priority to staff in rehiring.”
The membership was never told that one Board member had offered a deal to Alaska management in which he declared that the company would be under no obligation to re-hire any of the existing FCCJ F&B staff. Another important fact not reported to the membership prior to the vote to enter an exclusive negotiation arrangement with Alaska was that Alaska had received a “D-minus” credit rating.
Also omitted in the presentations by Baumgartner, Soble and Murakami was the fact that seven union employees had sued the club for wrongful demotions and that the board, had agreed to reinstate them and pay back responsibility allowances (teate), that the total payout by the club was around 4.5 million yen (beyond the BOD’s spending authority) including around 1 million yen to an associate member and former Supreme Court judge who was actively involved in negotiating the staff settlement, and a combined 2 million yen to his firm.
It is our understanding that the final payment was made one month before the March 14 meeting.
Nor did any member of the board inform the regular membership that most staff being targeted for firing were not overpaid excessively. Generally, our part-time staff (those nice college students who worked on holidays and weekends) were paid 950 yen per hour, only slightly more than McDonald’s. And most of our “contract” employees, some who had served us for upwards of 10 years, were paid an average of 3.5 million yen before taxes and without retirement allowances.
It is very unlikely that the regular membership would have endorsed the Alaska outsourcing plan had there not been another big promise that was portrayed as bringing great benefit to the Club. A new law governing not-for-profit organizations offers a choice between ordinary non-profit status, of the kind that the FCCJ has enjoyed from the outset and “public-service
Regular members were urged to believe, on the basis of no convincing argument whatsoever, that this status would help the Club to become more journalisticall
The reason why this was not honestly discussed by the board before the membership was that one of the requirements for this status was a stricter limit on the profit allowed from FCCJ F&B operations, a major factor, as the board presented it, for outsourcing.
In May and June of this year, Baumgartner and Soble repeatedly gave misleading information about the financial situation of the Club to Japanese news media (including the Japan Times 12 June 2012).
They also sent out a number of email messages with inaccurate and self-serving "reports" supporting the outsourcing revolution. The opposition, which by this time was formed, was unable to obtain e-mail addresses for reaching the entire regular membership. David McNeil resigned from the board in protest over its apparently hollow assurances that that as many as possible of our staff would be re-hired.
Baumgartner, Soble and Murakami were reelected as a slate with other board members. This deserves some explanation. FCCJ elections have at times in the past been influenced by what was popularly known as “a machine”. Formerly, a number of almost exclusively Japanese regular members who did not actively participate in club affairs, and rarely attended meetings, would be collected by minibus and brought in person to the office where they would fill in election forms as instructed.
Today, with the possibility of voting via fax and email, personal attendance is no longer required, and when dedicated "machine" organizers are part of an FCCJ election, the results will be ludicrously lopsided; 3 to 1 for the entire slate chosen by Baumgartner in the case of the most recent election. As any reporter covering elections in countries that are officially considered democracies will immediately appreciate, such disproportion is convincing proof of a dysfunctional political system.
Some concerned regular members have not passively accepted these developments, and an opposition movement is now underway. It began by spreading information about the material misrepresentati
The opposition by regular members first took shape after initiatives of former presidents Anthony Rowley, Bob Neff and Karel van Wolferen.
On August 2nd, Rowley and Neff met members of the board, including Baumgartner and Soble, with demands that the staff be rehired forthwith and that outsourcing plans be dropped. They also met with the board with strong remonstrations about the board’s continuing with a scheme that is clearly failing, that is creating significant damage to the prestige as well as financial situation of the FCCJ, and that may well cause its eventual demise.
The former presidents explained to the board that legal action is being considered if these demands are not met. Those board members present at the meeting have not shown that they took this possibility seriously, as they promised to take up the protest in their regular board meeting twelve days later. They appear set in their determination to continue with their outsourcing policy.
On Wednesday, 8 August, the union filed a request for an injunction in Tokyo Court demanding that the terminated employees be reinstated in their jobs, the outsourcing for the moment be suspended and that the FCCJ agree to negotiate with the union and the employees to determine how to proceed. A press conference was held at the court press conference facility and received considerable coverage from the Japanese press.
This is where we are today. And this is where we have begun to need you, concerned FCCJ members, to help. We hope that you will support us in the legal action that we are now working on, should that prove necessary. The survival of the FCCJ as we have known it and for which we became members is at stake, and our contribution to an effort to reverse dreadful developments are no longer outside the range of our legitimate concerns.
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