Bargaining starts at McClatchy, but Company demurs on pay

McClatchy Unity Committee
Bargaining bulletin #1
Sacramento Bee, Modesto Bee, Fresno Bee, News Desk West

TUESDAY, Nov. 21, 2017 — 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 and administrative officer Kat Anderson spoke for the Unity Committee. For the sake of continuity and consistency, one editorial representative (Modesto Bee unit chair Marijke Rowland) was also present at all four bargaining dates, in addition to each unit’s respective chair.

McClatchy Unity Committee chair Marijke Rowland (Modesto Bee) and Fresno unit chair Barbara Anderson prepare to enter the Fresno Bee for bargaining. Photo by Staff 2017.

Rowland was chosen to serve as chair of a newly-constituted McClatchy Unity Committee.

McClatchy Regional Vice President for Human Resources Linda Brooks and attorney Aaron Agenbroad were at the table for the company at all the sessions along with each location’s respective editorial management.

Modesto, Fresno and News Desk West are all negotiating full contracts, as their current proposals expire Dec. 31, 2017. Sacramento is negotiating a reopener; its full contract expires Dec. 31, 2018.

The company came to the table with a written proposal for each unit. Much of the language remained unchanged in each. Economic issues, including salary and raises, were not included in any of the proposals. The company said 2018 merit pool information has not been finalized and does not expect to have it done until mid-December. The two sides agreed the next bargaining session should be held with the economic picture on the agenda.

The company is seeking uniform language in all of the contracts regarding job security in the case of a reduction in force. The current language in Fresno and Modesto has an increased emphasis on seniority. In both Sacramento units seniority is among a list of factors and only becomes a tiebreaker when all other factors are equal. The company is seeking to change Fresno and Modesto’s language to the Sacramento language. Brooks said with its desired language the company’s criteria for deciding layoffs would be, in order of priority, 1) The work left to be done, 2) Past performance, based on the last three JPRs, and 3) seniority.

The Guild did not present written proposals since the company had no full proposal and was deferring any discussion of the core economic issues. We responded verbally to the company’s proposals at each site, and will be sending written follow-up.

The Guild plans to submit updated salary schedules in Modesto, Fresno, Sacramento and News Desk West. We also want to reopen and raise the severance limits, now capped at all the properties at 26 weeks. Some senior employees were red-circled at previous levels in all but the Modesto unit.

Our committee will also present proposals on expenses and equipment language, particularly in regards to cell reimbursement (and, in the case of the Modesto unit, data plans.) Parking downtown may be an issue in Modesto.

Committee members demanded more investment in the editorial departments. Hall, the Guild executive officer, said the company’s focus on furloughs and other cost-cutting measures seems outdated, and increasingly detrimental to morale and editorial quality.

“McClatchy has been a standout company. But it needs to invest in quality. It makes me sick at heart to see what is happening in this business. Management continues to move in the direction of cost-cutting. McClatchy should be the leader in going in the right direction,” Hall said.

The next bargaining sessions are expected to be in January though no dates have been confirmed yet.

Please contact your unit officers or the Guild Office at 415-421-6833, if you have any questions.


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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.