Chronicle Shopnotes – paid what we’re due

It was standing room only in the historic Chronicle boardroom as more than 30 Guild members showed up for the monthly contract negotiations to protest the company’s refusal to pay experience step raises during the negotiating period. Those raises — in some cases adding up to more than $2,500 in back pay — are specified in the expired contract and had always been paid during contract talks. Until now. In a moving and heartfelt soliloquy, Lizzie Johnson told of her passion for her work and for the Chronicle and also about how the missing dough had prevented her from repairing the brakes on her Corolla, which she used for covering the Wine Country firestorm. Within minutes, the employer’s side caved and, to its credit, righted the wrong. Unfortunately, after the thundering horde thundered out of the boardroom to return to work, the negotiations returned to the standard snail’s pace routine. The company’s current “offer” is for a 1 percent annual pay raise (that’s 1, as in one more than zero) and a 2 percent annual pool for “merit” increases (both of which could be withheld at management’s whim for “underachievers” — which could be where the all those pie-in-the-sky 20 percent readership increase “goals” from the current round of evaluations come in). The company is also dangling, at long last, a modest 401(k) match — providing the Guild agrees to expel about one-third of its members, mostly from the ad department, from union jurisdiction. Such a deal. Meanwhile, employees who have a dream about getting MLK Day off (as practically everyone else in our business does) will have to keep dreaming. But, as the good reverend doctor said, we shall overcome…

Ann Killion has been named the National Sports Media Association’s California sportswriter of the year for the second time, knocking the reigning champion Scott Ostler off his perch. Killion and Ostler seem to be trading this award back and forth every year, and we should be proud of both for dominating the field. Congratulations to Scott and also to Bruce “Jenks” Jenkins for being nominated for the honor this year…Congratulations also to former business columnist Tom Lee, now a senior writer at SharesPost in SF….

Shopnotes Anagrams Quiz! Unscramble the following phrases to find the name of a staff member: 1. Aw! Giant Okra! 2. Reliable Rug, Lie! 3. Mend Bra Corner 4. Sleety Hombre 5. Any Stork 6. Ask Ill Camel! And finally, our favorite: 7. Non-Managerial Carrion! Answers below…

Last year we told you how the limousine bills for Jay Fielden, the editor-in-chief of Hearst-owned Esquire magazine, kept turning up, by mistake, in a Chronicle reporter’s Hearst billing account. We thought someone would have figured it out and fixed it by now. But no, it keeps happening! The poor Chronicle reporter just got two more bills for Fielden’s limo rides home. And they aren’t cheap. In December, the Tel-A-Car limo service submitted a bill of $311 for a single limo ride (from Manhattan to Wilton, Conn.). Another ride home, five days later, cost $240. (FYI, the commuter train fare from New York to Wilton is $12.75.) The Guild says if Hearst can afford to spend $311 for one Esquire employee’s ride home it can surely kick in a few bucks toward a Chronicle employee’s 401(k) match in the next contract. And without kicking out union members! We’re not asking for limo rides, just not to be driven to the poor house…

No fewer than 163 different food items were thrown out when the valiant Mary Jelincic directed the cleaning of the two newsroom refrigerators. Among the stuff headed for the dumpster were yogurts of countless flavors and expiration dates, a six-pack of green tea, a container of creme fraiche, a pint of Jack Nicklaus mint chip ice cream, an untouched wheel of brie and two bottles of cucumber-parsley-kale-spinach juice. Mmmmm. Curiouser and Curiouser never reveals his sources so we are not going to report the name of the passing employee who noticed that an unopened beer bottle was among the items about to be tossed and, figuring she could give it a better home, tucked it under her arm…Welcome to Kareem Aleaziz, born Feb. 4, and a certified member of the “go” team, several times every night…

There are advantages to being dead. Curiouser and Curiouser, who had been receiving daily, unwanted email pitches from a persistent Washington, D.C ., publicist, replied in an email: “(This reporter) is deceased. You may remove his name from your mailing list. Thank you.” To which the publicist replied, “Thank you,” and complied. This is Twilight Zone stuff! An imaginary dead person in earnest conversation with someone who believed she was writing to a dead person!… Latest person to be trapped inside one of the over-the-hill lobby elevators was one Audrey Cooper…A stuffed Dory the fish was on the free table, not for long…

The great Allen Matthews, our spy at the latest alumni lunch at John’s Grill, took notes in the shadow of the black bird and filed this report:

“Jack Breibart arrived late, allowing him to sit at the head of the table. A suitable place for the guy who hired most of us. Other alums included Lewis Dolinsky, Vicky Elliott, Margo Freistadt, Steve Hornbostel, Rod Jones, Tim Neagle, Jackie Pels and John Sullivan. What’s a copy desk without city desk types to bother? Vlae Kershner and Mike Taylor came, ready to roll their eyes at questions. Of course, we also needed research: Johnny Miller was on hand to tell us that the March 4 Wayback Machine column will have a Jerry Roberts byline. And we had two copy desk vets who still do real work at the Voice of the West: Bernie Beck, on-call copy editor, and Deb Wandell, the spring chicken of 1997. Bill Pates once again did the organizing with his pal, restaurateur John Konstin (who sent trays of food daily to strike HQ in 1994).”

Answers to Shopnotes Quiz: 1. Ron Kitagawa 2. Gabrielle Lurie 3. Brandon Mercer 4. Esther Mobley 5. Ryan Kost 6. Mick LaSalle 7. Caroline Moira Grannan

Copy chief Pete Wevurski, who seems to have a thing about animals, has owned or lived with the following:

an albino skunk, two raccoons, Cuddles the porcupine, a boa constrictor that once spent a night in his waterbed, an opossum, a hawk with one wing, seven dogs at once (five of them Rottweilers), lambs, goats, squirrels and a baby zebra. This does not count the wild animals he is obliged to work with at Fifth and Mission….Newlyweds Marissa Lang, business reporter, and Leah Millis, photographer, left to move to Washington D.C., driving across the country with their two dogs and a very packed car. Leah took a job with Reuters as White House, congressional and D.C. photographer, and Marissa will be covering the DC area as a general-assignment reporter for the Washington Post. During her first few weeks at her new job, Leah’s photo of an imperious Hope Hicks on the day she resigned as Trump’s right-hand woman went viral, used by the New Yorker, among countless other media. ….Former reporter Paul “The Liberator” Liberatore, who worked at the Chronicle from 1979 to 1989 between his gigs at the Marin Independent Journal, retired from the I-J but will continued to write a twice-monthly music column…….

Shopnotes Fun Fact: Food writer Jon Kauffman’s new book, “Hippie Food,” is out and it’s even better for you than tofu, sprouts, brown rice and carob…And more great food (and craft beer) was to be had at the Chinese New Year-themed Thirsty Thursday. Jeff Johnson, calling out a certain editor, observed that wobbly things can happen when you serve alcohol. Thirsty Thursday is turning into one of the great traditions in American journalism, and that’s not the craft beer speaking…. Curiouser and Curiouser took notes at the big staff meeting! And here they are! “Verticals. Newsletters. 20%, Slack, 20%. FOMO, print component, incubator. More verticals. No, I’m not moving to Los Angeles. Your three minutes are up. Ding.” Now if we can just remember what everyone was talking about….And as long as we’re in an anagramming and we-shall-not-be-moved mood, did you know that “Censor Financial Scorch!”, rearranged, spells San Francisco Chronicle?

— Curiouser and Curiouser

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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.

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