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.
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.
The company wants to abandon annual cost-of-living pay raises and discontinue experience-based step increases. Any future raises would be entirely based on management whim — the same discretionary system that now governs overscale merit raises, which has led to allegations of pay inequities tied to sex, race and age.
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The Guild hosted contract talks via videoconference with Hearst representatives. Your bargaining team stressed that conditions have changed in the industry and at the Chronicle. Major goals include a 5 percent across-the-board pay increase, shorter workday, restored vacations, a 401(k) match and a new retirement plan.
The Guild’s Chronicle unit has formed a Pay Equity Committee and has begun work to analyze members’ compensation and discuss solutions with management.
The Guild has conducted an extensive study of the wages of 112 Chronicle newsroom members, and discovered pay disparities between men and women, whites and nonwhites, and older and younger employees.
The Guild has begun a study of the wages of 112 Chronicle newsroom members. We have discovered pay disparities between men and women, whites and nonwhites, and older and younger employees. Recently, we shared our findings with the company and have proposed remedies. We await the company’s response.