After a 16-month battle with the Hearst Corp. that focused mainly on economics and health benefits, the San Francisco Chronicle Guild Bargaining Committee is recommending members ratify a new 5-year contract.
The committee scheduled a RATIFICATION MEETING AND VOTE for 5 pm – 8 pm, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. The meeting will be at the Bogart Room in the Pickwick Hotel, across the street from the Chronicle at Fifth and Mission.
After a brief summary of the proposed contract terms by the Bargaining Committee, the floor will be open for discussion. Voting will be by secret ballot, starting about 6 p.m. and concluding at 8 p.m. sharp. Only Guild members in good standing are eligible to vote. If you have any questions about your eligibility, please contact Unit Chair Michelle Devera (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call the Guild Office (415-421-6833) as soon as possible. We invite any Guild-covered non-members in the advertising department to contact us about gaining eligibility status.
The proposed agreement includes annual 1.5 percent pay increases, including one year retroactive, applied to all contractual pay scales. An immediate 3 percent increase will be due if the agreement is ratified, plus about $980 in retro pay at Schedule A top minimum.
All told, the pay raises will increase pay scales 7.7 percent when compounded over the next four years. The last raise would be due in July 2016, a year before expiration.
Health care would be the most notable change if members ratify the new contract — and by far the most difficult to swallow.
Chronicle Guild members would begin coverage under the Hearst corporate-run benefit system starting in January 2014. The current Media Guild Health & Welfare Trust will shut down. The Guild will distribute all remaining trust reserves — an estimated $1,000 to $1,500 per active employee participant in the health plan — during the first few months of 2014.
The employee premium share for comparable coverage, particularly for families, will be considerably higher in the company plan than in the current Guild-administered system. Details can be found online at mediaworkers.org, in the Chronicle Negotiations section under the CURRENT CAMPAIGNS tab.
However, Guild members face higher costs even in the current union system as insurers raise their prices and new fees and taxes are taken into account. The current system’s operating deficit — more than $100,000 per month — must be closed, and Hearst has refused to increase its payments into the plan.
Bargaining Committee members, with the help of a federal mediator, achieved an additional year to the term of the contract, including another pay increase, to help bring the talks to a close. Besides the pay and health care issues, the Guild and the management also agreed to settle a dispute involving temporary reporters, creating a new 2-year reporting position with guaranteed pay minimums.
Details on ABSENTEE VOTING: Although we strongly encourage all members to vote in person and participate in the meeting, we will allow absentee voting by email for any members unable to attend. Here is the procedure:
1. Send a request for an absentee ballot to email@example.com.
2. Please submit your request as soon as possible. Requests must be received by 3 p.m. on Wednesday Aug. 21 to guarantee you will be able to vote absentee.
3. We will reply by email with your ballot and instructions after confirming your membership status and eligibility to vote.
4. All absentee votes must be received by 5 p.m. on Wednesday Aug. 21 in order to be counted.
5. Our staff will tally the absentee votes and add that result to the in-person total at the conclusion of the meeting Wednesday night. We will protect the confidentiality of all votes.
We expect to announce the vote result as soon as all votes are counted.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any one of us.
Chronicle Guild Bargaining Committee
Kathleen Stewart Anderson (staff)
Carl Hall (staff)