Hearst replays its tired dirge in negotiations

Cartoon Hearst Cadillac Plan by George Russell

SF Chronicle-Guild
Bargaining Bulletin #21

Chronicle Guild negotiators broke off talks Tuesday with the Hearst Corp. after enduring yet another rendition of the same old company song and dance routine.

Talks for a new labor agreement at the Chronicle have been under way for nearly a year, focusing mainly on pay and health care benefits. The management has shown no willingness to reach a fair compromise since proposing last fall to move Chronicle Guild members into the management health plan, raising our costs dramatically even after taking a proposed 1.5 percent annual pay raise into account.

When talks resumed Tuesday, the union team made it clear that we expect better from Hearst. We told the Hearst lawyers, who met with us via videoconference from New York, that the company could settle with our committee in one of two ways:

  1. Limit the health care premium increases our members could face in 2015 and 2016, the last two years of the proposed four-year contract; or
  2. Sweeten its pay offer for the two out-years.

The company seems to have difficulty accepting the fact that its offer amounts to a pay cut for most of our members, assuming our members keep about the same level of medical coverage after transitioning into the Hearst benefit plan.  We could avoid the big pay cuts only by accepting a Hearst option of cheap “high deductible” health coverage, which would mean that members would bear huge medical bills if they ever need more than wellness visits.

As usual, the Hearst lawyers simply repeated their now aging October 2012 proposal, showing no interest in moving toward a rational settlement.

Talks ended after about 90 minutes. No new dates were scheduled. Afterward, the Guild contacted the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to see if a federal mediator might help us find a way to fruitful discussions.

We will take all appropriate steps to be sure our members are heard.  As Guild Executive Officer Carl Hall said during negotiations today, “We have many eloquent members in this guild. We have been trying to convey a message to Hearst that our members do not accept what looks like a pay cut.  Management has refused to acknowledge that.  I guess we have not been eloquent enough. We are going to find ways to be more eloquent so that Hearst can hear us.”

Present: Mike Cabanatuan, Autumn Grace, Carl Hall and Kat Anderson for the Guild.

Suzy Cain, Cathy Rommelfanger, Aryn Sobo (via video) and Carolene Eaddy (via video) for Management.



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Michael Applegate

Pacific Media Workers Executive Officer