Guild bargainers and PD management narrowed their differences on a new contract and reached new tentative agreements Thursday.
The two sides tentatively agreed to a substantial increase in cell phone stipends for employees required to use them working outside of the newsroom. Going forward, those employees will receive $65 per month, up from $50 in the current contract.
The parties also tentatively agreed that new parents returning to work may seek a part-time schedule for up to one year so long as the scheduling needs can be worked out with a supervisor.
Management modified its proposed takeaway on health care costs. In its new proposal, the company demands employee costs be capped at 35 percent of medical coverage and 50 percent of dental and vision. Now, employees can be docked no more than 30 percent of the premium costs.
Wage increases remain the big sticking point blocking an overall agreement.
The Guild committee is demanding 5 percent across-the-board pay increases in each year of a three-year contract, and an improved 401(k) match, making up for some of the economic concessions that helped Sonoma Media Investments take over from absentee corporate owners three years ago.
Management has offered no specific pay raise, but instead wants to link Guild employees’ pay raises to performance reviews and whatever raises are granted to non-union staff. Company representatives said Thursday they plan to offer a revised economic proposal at the next bargaining session.
Troy Niday, the company’s chief negotiator, said pay tied to performance is a “high priority” for management.
While negotiations were underway at the Rohnert Park production center, Guild members showed their solidarity in the newsroom by wearing Media Worker T-shirts and posting their photos on social media.
“It’s a real morale-boost knowing that your colleagues have your back when you are in the thick of frustrating contract negotiations,” said Derek Moore, chair of the bargaining committee and president of Local 39521.
The next bargaining session is scheduled for Feb. 4.
Representing management were Troy Niday, Sam Caddle, Ted Appel and Emily DeBacker.
Representing the Guild were Carl Hall, Kat Anderson, Derek Moore and Christopher Chung.