Guild representatives and McClatchy management this week completed the latest round of negotiations on the structure of the Sacramento Editorial Production Center (EPC).
The key element in this round is a side agreement that transfers Fresno Bee copy editors and designers — virtually — to the Sacramento EPC. While these employees continue to work virtually from Fresno, they will be part of the Sacramento center’s staff. Fresno staffers have ratified that side agreement.
With that issue resolved, Wednesday’s session focused on a discussion of the roles that production center staffers will assume, and the manner in which those jobs are likely to evolve.
Guild executive officer Carl Hall asked how the Fresno staffers’ jobs would change when they became part of the production center. Bee vice president of human resources Linda Brooks said that would ultimately be determined by management, and “we really won’t know until they get in our system.”
When Hall asked whether the Fresno staffers will be expected to perform different kinds of jobs than they did in Fresno, Rita Blomster, the production center’s day desk chief, said that based on how the center has evolved so far, “their roles are unlikely to change.”
Hall then asked whether Fresno staffers who stayed in Fresno but ultimately resigned were likely to be replaced by Sacramento-based editors. Brooks said that “we think so.” But she wouldn’t go so far as to say that all of these production center jobs would eventually move to Sacramento.
Bee reporter Ed Fletcher brought up the issue of training. He pointed to the recent story in Jim Romonesko’s media blog reporting that all the staffers at McClatchy’s production center in Charlotte, N.C., have been told they must reapply for their jobs, that eight people will be let go, and that knowledge of social media and video editing would be considered in the evaluation process.
Hall questioned whether the Bee was doing enough to offer production center employees training in these digital skills. Brooks responded that the Charlotte policy reflected the unique circumstances of that production center, and that it was unlikely to be repeated in Sacramento.
Still, Hall reiterated the importance of helping production center staffers upgrade their digital skills. “The message is clear,” he said. “The workforce wants to evolve. Let’s make it happen.”
Representing the guild on Wednesday were Hall, Fletcher, administrative officer Kat Anderson, Fresno copy editor Kathleen Coates, and Sacramento copy editor Ed Fishbein.