An overwhelming majority of the 63 unionized workers in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser newsroom voted on April 25 to ratify a five-year contract with owner Oahu Publications Inc.
The North Bay newspaper’s Pulitzer – in the Breaking News category – continues an impressive run of journalism for newsrooms covered by the Pacific Media Workers Guild. The East Bay Times won a Pulitzer in 2016 for breaking news coverage of the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland.
Members of the Bay Area News Group newsroom staff, winners of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of the deadly Ghost Ship Fire, publicly denounced their corporate owner’s business practices Thursday.
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.
Twenty-one Guild members are being bought out and layoffs are next. How many more people will be let go is not known.
Contract negotiations resumed in San Francisco on Tuesday and Wednesday with a focus on community interpreting and two bedrocks of any labor contract: just cause discipline and the right to arbitrate.
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.