Bargaining Unit Bulletin #17
Bargaining will resume March 4th on a new labor agreement at the San Francisco Chronicle while the Guild and management await details on competing proposals to solve our health care financing dilemma. Outside consultants are working on pricing of alternative plans and focusing, in particular, on pricing Kaiser to meet the needs of our members without straining their personal finances – a situation that would be created by Hearst’s proposals.
We have proposed a balanced approach to fixing our current system that would require some savings on benefits as well as increased contributions by employees and management. We are also investigating the possibility of joining an ILWU health benefits trust fund that would offer reasonably priced options and retain Kaiser as a provider, the option most popular with Guild members.
Guild bargainers pressed the Hearst Corp lawyers to disclose 2014 health care plan prices, a condition of their proposal for an imminent merger of Guild members into the existing Hearst benefits plan. At this time, based on 2013 rates, the typical Guild family pays $316 per month for high-quality Kaiser HMO medical coverage, dental and vision. The Hearst proposal for comparable coverage would cost that family $645 per month. We are working hard to resist such burdensome increases, particularly in light of Hearst’s 1.5% proposed pay increase.
Your Guild team has crunched numbers provided by Hearst and determined that the Company’s own proposal would cost it about $600,000 more per year than our current system. So even though employees would pay more under Hearst’s proposed plan, so would management.
The Guild stressed that the funding problems with the Guild Heath and Welfare plan stem not from poor management or insufficient employee contributions but from Hearst’s refusal to increase its contributions along with the soaring costs of health care over the last seven years.
But the management lawyers insisted that Hearst has nothing but its employees’ best interests at heart. “I take issue with the implication that this is the Chronicle trying to stick it to the employees,” said Hearst lawyer Aryn Sobo.
“We are proud that over the decades this Guild has made it a priority – even at the expense of pay increases – to keep health care affordable for our members,” said Carl Hall, executive officer.
Present: Jon Ferguson, Mike Cabanatuan, Autumn Grace, Carl Hall and Kat Anderson for the Guild.
Suzy Cain, Cathy Rommelfanger, Aryn Sobo, Carolene Eaddy (via video), Peter Rahbar (via video) for Management.