Chronicle unit pay equity update

Nov. 7, 2016

The Pacific Media Workers Guild has conducted an extensive study of the wages of 112 Chronicle newsroom members, and we discovered pay disparities between men and women, whites and nonwhites, and older and younger employees.

In October, the Guild shared our findings with the company, proposed remedies and requested a meeting. The company declined to meet with us. The Guild filed a grievance over the refusal to meet. In response, Hearst lawyers have now contacted us to set up a meeting, probably in early December. The time hasn’t been finalized yet.

California’s Fair Pay Act went into effect Jan. 1, 2016.  It prohibits employers from paying women less than men for substantially similar work.  And on Sept. 30,  Gov. Brown signed companion legislation, SB 1063, which extends that prohibition on pay inequity to race and ethnicity.  It will take effect Jan. 1, 2017. California now has the one-two punch on eradicating pay discrimination.

Our study looked at differences in overscale pay in the newsroom. We plan to extend the study to all other Chronicle departments soon. A brief primer on how this works: Under the Guild contract, newsroom employees are paid a minimum salary based on years of experience, topping out at six years’ experience – so that everyone with six or more years’ experience receives the same base minimum salary. This is based on our contract, which next expires on June 30, 2017. However, most newsroom employees also receive additional pay, known as overscale, which they negotiate individually with management or are awarded in the form of a raise. The company is required to report overscale amounts to the Guild. Over time, as scale has fallen behind in relation to the Bay Area cost of living, reliance on overscale has increased –  along with inequities.

Based on the best data available as of June 14, 2016 (when we began the study), here is what we see so far:

  • Throughout the newsroom, far more men get overscale pay than do women. (85% vs 65%)
  • Men get three times the available overscale that women get. (75% goes to men; 25% to women)
  • The median overscale for men is more than twice that of women. 
  • The median overscale of white employees is nearly twice that of nonwhites.
  • Among all reporters under age 50, median overscale for men is more than triple that of women. 
  • Among Metro reporters over age 50, the median overscale for men is triple that of women.
  • Significant inequities also disadvantage women, people of color and/or older employees in these jobs: reporters, copy editors, photographers, and artists/designers/graphics.

This effort is not intended to reflect negatively on employees who have successfully negotiated overscale pay, but to remedy injustice and correct a system that has perpetuated historic inequities.

Here is the full report, without names, edited in a few places to eliminate any cases where an individual’s pay would be revealed.

Pay Equity Committee:

Rita Beamish
Mike Cabanatuan
Tara Duggan
Kevin Fagan
Emily Green
Caroline Grannan
Leah Garchik
Lily Janiak
Marissa Lang
Joaquin Palomino
Steve Rubenstein
Carolyn Said
Rachel Swan
Linda Houser Tafur
Carolyne Zinko

Please contact Caroline Grannan, unit chair, at the Chronicle if you want to join the committee.

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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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