Guild and management negotiators significantly narrowed the issues blocking agreement on a new labor contract during two days of talks in Honolulu. Our committee managed to elicit a package proposal from the company that would drop many of the onerous proposals it made last year, such as reducing holidays and sick leave, absurd absenteeism terms, restrictions on shop stewards and a weaker grievance procedure. But the company still demands the right to conduct random drug testing.
Everyone showed up at Dr. Dave Perlman’s 99th birthday party except Dr. Dave, whose own doc (the kind who actually went to med school) advised him to stay home and rest up for the next one. So Dave was obliged to sit through a group performance of Happy Birthday by telephone.
Welcome to new hires Lynda Black, an online coordinator who likes making margaritas; Zack Sicking, an online coordinator who likes playing disc golf; and web developer Alicia Pearse, who says she is “drawn to alien-based conspiracy theories.” It was not clear whether Alicia will be investigating the not-disproven theory that Chronicle editors are alien-based.
After a backward move, a sideways shuffle and a marathon song and dance, contract negotiations ended up Tuesday without achieving much harmony. Still, we made some progress. We refocused the bargaining on our key priorities: reasonable salary increases, equitable pay, a 401(k) match, and no loss of sick leave or other benefits already in our contract.
Bargaining has begun at all four McClatchy California units (The Modesto Bee, The Fresno Bee, The Sacramento Bee and News Desk West). Negotiations took place in all three cities last week. The Guild is emphasizing coordination on the behalf of all the McClatchy units.
Guild executive officer Carl Hall has written to the management of Mexico City daily, La Jornada, protesting firings and union busting. After a short strike last June, the paper’s director, Tania Paulina Olmos, fired the leaders of its union. As of the date of the letter, nine officers and activists have been terminated, and they accuse Olmos of tearing up their union contract.
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After a year of stonewalling, Hearst Corp. finally agreed at the outset of a hearing before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Tuesday to provide the Guild access to documents needed to investigate a suspected pattern of discriminatory pay practices skewed against women, people of color and older workers. The Chronicle is one of many newspapers where employees suspect inequities in compensation.
After getting the antagonism out of the way in the first day of bargaining, on Wednesday, Oct. 25, we got down to business with discussions of 401(k), sick leave and the details of family leave laws in the context of the company’s proposed short-term disability plan. We did not discuss salary increases, and management hasn’t made an offer. Our proposal seeks 5 percent annual raises during a three-year contract.
NAFTA negotiators can establish sanctions against countries that don’t at least try to make it safe for journalists – and other workers – to do their jobs.