When the National Labor Relations Board began calling out the votes Jan. 19 from the Los Angeles Times’ Jan. 4 election on whether to unionize, it seemed to be neck and neck, recalled Matt Pearce, a national reporter and union organizer at the Times. Then, the pro-union ballots started to pull away. At one point, 40 yeses in a row were read off, by the count of data journalist Anthony Pesce, also an organizer.
Bargaining continued in late January, early February at all four McClatchy California units (The Modesto Bee, The Fresno Bee, The Sacramento Bee and News Desk West). Full contracts are up at Modesto, Fresno and News Desk West while Sacramento has a reopener. The guild and company were able to narrow bargaining to a few core issues during each of the sessions. They include the new metrics for page view goals, seniority language in the case of layoffs, minimum salary levels and merit pay scales, equipment reimbursement, and drug policy.
Negotiations for a 2018 wage re-opener covering 13 bargaining units will open soon as Digital First Media ordered a new wave of staff cuts throughout California and in suburban Philadelphia in January. In response, DFM workers are escalating their contract campaign against Alden Global Capital, the New York hedge fund that owns DFM and that has been systematically stripping newspaper assets since 2012.
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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