Chronicle guild members push for health plan alternatives

Bargaining Bulletin #15
San Francisco Chronicle unit

Guild bargainers met with Chronicle representatives Monday to resume negotiations, calling on the management to reach an agreement by the end of February that protects affordable health care – a critical part of a healthy work environment.

Hearst Corp., New York-based owner of the Chronicle, has proposed covering the paper’s Guild-covered membership in the same nationwide corporate health care program that covers Chronicle managers.

Costs under that system would be dramatically higher for most Guild members, particularly the two-thirds of members covered by the Kaiser HMO system.

As an alternative, the Guild is pursuing a merger of our current Media Guild Health & Welfare Trust with a system managed on behalf of another union, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).

We have had several conversations with ILWU health care administrators, and detailed proposals are in the works. Under one scenario, it may be possible to secure high-quality coverage at lower costs by creating a larger pool of ILWU and Guild members. Administration of the proposed merged plan would be more efficient because of the larger numbers of plan participants, and the large buying pool could generate lower rates from health care providers. But the Chronicle membership would retain its group status and a voice in the plan’s governance.

The current Guild system includes an optional HMO and PPO plan through HealthNet. The ILWU offers a similar non-Kaiser option through United Healthcare.

On Monday, the Guild asked the Hearst representatives to consider the advantages of the ILWU option. At the same time, we asked Hearst what steps could be taken to reduce the costs to our members were we to join the corporate plan.

Discussions adjourned until Wednesday.

Representing the Guild: Michael Cabanatuan, Matthai Kuruvila, Kat Anderson,  Jon Ferguson, Eunice Kwon, Darren Carroll (by videoconference) and Bernie Lunzer. (Lunzer is president of The Newspaper Guild in Washington, D.C. He participated as an observer. Carroll is an international TNG staff rep. Kwon is a graduate fellow sponsored by the CORO Foundation. Hall and Anderson are local Guild representatives.)

Representing the management: Suzy Cain, Cathy Rommelfanger, Peter Rahbar, Aryn Sobo, Carolene Eaddy. (Sobo and Eaddy participated by videoconference from New York.)

Enhanced by Zemanta
Author Image
Michael Applegate

Pacific Media Workers Executive Officer