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Getting down to brass tacks in Chronicle bargaining

Oct. 25, 2017                                                                                                                                    BARGAINING BULLETIN #5

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE/SFGATE UNIT

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 Wednesday, and management hasn’t made an offer. Our proposal seeks 5 percent annual raises during a three-year contract.

We reached tentative agreements, and neared several more, on a number of largely administrative issues.

The Guild offered to withdraw our request to enter an adjustable pension plan if the company agrees to a proposed 5 percent 401(k) match. The company’s response was that it was willing to consider “some form of” employer 401(k) match if the Guild agrees to remove Advertising, SFGate and Marketing from the Guild’s jurisdiction.

Hearst attorney Aryn Sobo said the company understood that would be “a big give” for the Guild, but said a company 401(k) match would be costly for management.

We expressed our discontent with the idea of losing dozens of our valued members, but did not settle either issue Wednesday.

We asked a lot of questions about the company’s proposal to cancel our current sick leave benefits — potentially wiping out employee sick leave banks — and substitute a new short-term disability program. We looked into how the program would compare with what we’ve already got, taking into account existing state- and city-mandated disability benefits. While management argued the program would benefit new employees and those with low sick-leave balances, we expressed strong concerns about members who would lose large sick-leave banks.

Some questions remain about the specifics of the proposed short-term disability plan, and management said it would iron out more details before our next bargaining meetings on Nov. 27 and 28.

Representing the Guild were Mike Cabanatuan, Caroline Grannan, JK Dineen, Tara Duggan, and Steve Rubenstein, and Guild staff Carl Hall and Kat Anderson. Observing: Mike Massa, Brooks Mencher, George Russell, and Todd Trumbull.

Representing the company: Sobo and VP for Human Resources Renee Peterson.

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Oct. 24, 2017                                                                                                                                    BARGAINING BULLETIN #4

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE/SFGATE UNIT

GUILD TO MANAGEMENT: GET REAL

Hearst Corp. representatives got an earful Tuesday as negotiations resumed for a new labor agreement at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Talks resume on Wednesday, when we will start to find out whether the message got through.

Members of the Guild committee told management that its initial proposal — sent last week by email — was not exactly well-received. The proposal offered no hint that better pay and benefits might be forthcoming despite the Chronicle’s dramatic financial rebound.

Hearst’s chief spokeswoman, Aryn Sobo, a lawyer from the New York corporate office, said the company wants to improve recruitment and retention, but claimed that the protections offered by a union contract are actually regarded as a negative by potential hires. She also said that the company is interested in improving sick leave options for new hires even though it has proposed wiping out accumulated sick leave for veteran staff members.

Guild committee members raised questions about the company’s proposed sick leave plan. We focused on tangible improvements including a 5 percent annual pay raise, a match on the existing 401(k) plan, enhanced vacation and family-friendly workplace policies.

No agreements were reached Tuesday. However, the talks did identify a few issues where neither side has proposed changing current contract terms, and the dialogue is expected to turn toward identifying key priorities when talks resume Wednesday. Guild representatives said staff members, after two weeks of hazardous fire coverage, were insulted and enraged by the company’s proposal. Sobo said the company never intended its initial proposal to become a flashpoint, and emphasized that it was not management’s final word.

Any Guild-covered employee is invited to observe Wednesday’s negotiations, which start at 10 a.m. at 433 Natoma Street, 2nd floor conference room. Call (415) 421-6833 for details.

The Chronicle Guild Bargaining Committee: Mike Cabanatuan, JK Dineen, Tara Duggan, Caroline Grannan, and Steve Rubenstein, and Guild staff Carl Hall and Kat Anderson. Observing: Todd Trumbull.

Representing the company: Sobo and VP for Human Resources Renee Peterson.

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Pacific Media Workers Guild

Pacific Media Workers Guild

We are the Pacific Media Workers Guild, Local 39521 of The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America. We represent more than 1,200 journalists and other media workers, interpreters, translators, union staffs and freelancers.

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