Hearst resistant to honoring the sacrifices of Chronicle workers

San Francisco Chronicle unit
Bargaining Bulletin #20

Guild bargainers on Monday pressed our demand for the Hearst Corp. to improve its offer on pay and health coverage, focusing primarily on protecting take home pay in 2015 and 2016 – the last two years of a proposed four-year contract.

The Guild has been demanding at least 2 percent pay increases in 2014, 2015 and 2016. We also are seeking new money to keep health care premiums down, a way to preserve our affordable Kaiser HMO plan for those who choose it, and a way for Guild members to opt for a non-Kaiser option under the Hearst benefits system.

Hearst refuses to go beyond its initial offer of 1.5 percent each year of the four-year term. The Company also wants to bring all our Chronicle employees into the Hearst corporate health care system – forcing our existing Guild health and welfare plan out of business. Costs for Kaiser members and for family coverage would be dramatically higher.

Both the Guild and management are proposing a 1.5 percent retroactive increase for the first year. Talks Monday focused on closing the gap for future years, either by increasing the pay raise or limiting the amount by which employee health costs could rise.

As has been the pattern lately, Hearst negotiators offered no change in the Company’s position and indicated no interest in the Guild’s proposed compromise regarding 2015 and 2016.

Also on Monday, bargainers discussed legal details concerning another possible way to provide health benefits to the Chronicle employees through a merger with a trust fund sponsored by the ILWU.  We are seeking information from administrators of the ILWU plan.

We have been frustrated by management’s seeming inability to grasp the source of the frustration among our members over the pay and health care situation.

Chronicle Guild members sacrificed for many years to help keep the company afloat and protect quality journalism for the Bay Area. We agreed to give up a 2 percent raise in 2010, in exchange for the company’s agreement to divert the one-year cost of the raise into a one-time contribution into health benefits.

Members expected Hearst would come to a fair agreement to maintain health benefits after 2010, assuming the Chronicle turned around. But even though profit-sharing is now being discussed for management employees, Hearst refuses to contribute even a dollar more for affordable health care benefits. The Company has made it clear that a primary goal is to avoid any restrictions on future cost increases.

More talks are scheduled for Tuesday, May 7.

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

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


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Michael Applegate

Pacific Media Workers Executive Officer