Chronicle excludes Guild members from paid MLK Day holiday; Guild files unfair labor practice charges

To Pacific Media Workers Guild Chronicle unit members:

We’re distressed that Chronicle management is announcing that everyone on staff except Pacific Media Workers Guild members gets Martin Luther King Day as a paid holiday. We want our members to understand the background and the situation. The Guild has pushed forcefully over several contract negotiations for MLK Day to be added as a paid holiday, but company negotiators have refused.

In 2018, in negotiations for the current contract, a union bargaining team member researched whether other U.S. major metropolitan newspapers offer MLK Day as a paid holiday, and presented to the company bargaining team the findings that almost all of them do. The company still flatly rejected the proposal.

In October 2020, Chronicle management approached the Guild, saying they wanted to increase a few benefits for Chronicle members and not wait for the next contract negotiations. But there was a catch: The Chronicle asked us to remove 40 members from our union in exchange for a paid MLK Day holiday and a few other benefits. We rejected the proposal to cast 40 members out of the union. The Chronicle could have offered these benefits without harmful strings attached.

We appreciate that the company has given employees five additional paid time off days in 2021 to compensate for the hardships of the pandemic, and we wish that spirit were consistent.

Martin Luther King was a fervent supporter of labor unions, and we believe it dishonors his legacy to use his holiday as a lever to attempt to weaken a union. In addition, given the current climate in which legacy news media everywhere are reexamining their racist and exclusionary histories, we believe it’s racially insensitive at best to treat this holiday as a bargaining chip to use against workers.

The Chronicle appears to be indicating that making a change to the contract, such as adding a new holiday, is a barrier. But that’s not true. We would sign off on it immediately, as long as no strings were attached that would harm our members.

We urge Chronicle management to rethink its misguided attitude toward making MLK Day a paid holiday for Guild members and present the Guild with a proposal to add it as a paid holiday, without unacceptable strings attached.

The Guild has filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) charge with the National Labor Relations Board over the way the company is handling this and the way it has characterized the bargaining. The ULP is still being processed. If you’d like to be involved with this process or learn more about it, please let us know.

In solidarity,

Caroline Grannan, PMWG Chronicle unit chair 415-412-5758 (not a Chronicle phone)

Mike Cabanatuan, acting unit vice chair

Michael Applegate, PMWG executive officer

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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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