Guild committee raises pay equity at SF Chronicle

Oct. 2, 2016

To: Guild members

Re: Important findings on pay inequity at the Chronicle

The 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.  Recently, we shared our findings with the company and have proposed remedies.  We will discuss our study with you – along with any other workplace questions you may have – at two informational meetings we are holding: Wednesday, Oct. 5, noon-1 p.m., Joe and Fi’s cafe, 1st floor; and Thursday, Oct. 6, 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Joe and Fi’s. 

California’s Fair Pay Act went into effect on Jan. 1.  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.  California now has the one-two punch on eradicating pay discrimination.

The Chronicle newsroom included in our study consists of 112 reporters in all departments, copy editors, columnists, reviewers, critics, some editorial writers and editors, photographers, artists, designers, and editorial assistants. (We expect to extend the study to other Guild classifications in all Chronicle departments soon.)

Our current study looked at differences in overscale pay in the newsroom. 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.

The Guild’s detailed report doesn’t single out individuals or use names. But to ensure members’ privacy, we are not publicly releasing the full report because it is possible to determine who makes what in some cases.

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.     

We are now waiting to hear back from the company, and we welcome your thoughts as this process moves forward. Also, please join the Guild’s Pay Equity committee. Contact Carl or Kat for more details: (415) 298-1335,

In solidarity,

Carl Hall, Executive Officer

Kat Anderson, Administrative Officer/Business Agent

Caroline Grannan, Chronicle Unit Chair

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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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