Bay Area News Group – East Bay talks resume; fair pay sought



PLEASANTON — Bargaining resumed Thursday in the East Bay after an extended break from contract talks.  The Guild committee pressed for a new labor agreement that puts pay and benefits on par with the Bay Area standard for professional journalists.

The Guild gave management a new request for pay and benefit data covering the year just ended. Committee members asked the company to respond before the next bargaining session, scheduled for February 28 in Pleasanton.

Our goal is to reach an agreement on an East Bay contract well before June, when the current contract extension at the San Jose Mercury News is set to expire.

We renewed our demand for parity terms with the Mercury News staff, highlighted the need to put annual experience-based step increases into the East Bay contract, pointed to a number of non-economic issues that need to be addressed, and began an initial discussion of business conditions in our industry.

Our biggest challenge appears to be convincing management that it’s time to focus less on cost-cutting and more on investing in quality local news delivered in smart new ways for which customers will pay with their cash or their time.

“It grates on people to be treated like second class citizens,” commented Guild negotiator Carl Hall on the depressed pay in the East Bay.

Jim Janiga, for management, said, “There is a weakening willingness to pay more for print, straining our ability to leap frog into the next generation…Thank God we have a product: news information and entertainment…How you get that word out and how much are people willing to pay to hear our version of the news is the issue.”

We gave our comprehensive initial proposal to the management last May. That proposal remains on the table.

Detailed discussion between the Guild’s East Bay committee and management begins February 28. Thursday’s talks established a cordial tone that we hope to continue as the bargaining moves forward.

Any member of the East Bay Unit who would like more details is invited to contact anyone on our committee. We also hope to expand the committee in coming weeks to make sure all segments of our workforce are well-represented.

For the Guild: George Kelly, Danny Willis, Kat Anderson and Carl Hall (staff).

For the management: Andy Huntington, Marshall Anstandig, Shannon Hogan, Jim Janiga

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Michael Applegate

Pacific Media Workers Executive Officer