Thirteen Guild-CWA bargaining units representing newsroom, advertising, circulation, and production departments at Digital First Media opened joint negotiations for a wage increase Thursday in Denver.
Union negotiators proposed a $1 per hour raise for all employees effective July 1. Management offered no proposal, stating that budgeting is under way for the next fiscal year that begins July 1, and that managers won’t be prepared to begin serious negotiations until June.
The union-represented workers of DFM reached agreement last July on three-year contracts, including a 3 percent wage increase that took effect on August 1, 2016, for most bargaining units.
The new contracts called for joint, annual wage reopeners in early 2017 and 2018. Unions requested that the negotiations begin early each year, before the company normally would begin its budget discussions.
Thursday’s session lasted approximately an hour as union representatives pushed for a new commitment from the company to shift its focus away from cutting costs toward investment in quality journalism and customer service.
In the past year alone, DFM management has cut Guild-covered staffs collectively by roughly 30 percent, from 950 to 675 employees, which has propped up profits at the expense of slashing newsrooms and outsourcing key business and delivery operations.
DFM is owned by Alden Global Capital, a secretive New York-based hedge fund. Alden has drawn widespread criticism for putting profits ahead of quality, slashing jobs and selling off real estate.
Guild representatives pressed the company to embrace a business strategy that treated its employees as allies in the work we all do.
No new bargaining date has been scheduled, but there will be ongoing discussions between the unions and management.
The unions were represented by Patricia Doxsey of the Kingston Guild; Stevie Blanchard and Mary Ellen Zander of the Detroit Guild; Carl Hall, Kat Anderson and Claudia Melendez of the Pacific Media Workers Guild; Tony Mulligan, Enida Shuku, Kieran Nicholson, Paulette Shrefler and Emilie Rusch of the Denver Guild; Ray Benoit of the Denver Mailers; Candace Lund and Kelly Blaiser of the Minnesota Guild; Bill Ross and Chris Bonanducci of the Philadelphia Guild; Richard Rosenblatt, counsel for CWA District 7; and Kathy Munroe and Darren Carroll of TNG staff.
Marshall Anstandig, general counsel for DFM, and Judy Patterson of the Denver Post represented management.