McClatchy seeks aggressive commission plan in push for digital sales

sacramento-bee-buttonA management proposal to overhaul the advertising commission promises to be the key issue as contract negotiations between the Sacramento Bee management and Pacific Media Workers Guild opened Wednesday, Nov. 18 at the paper’s 21st Street office.

The session opened with McClatchy attorney Aaron Agenbroad providing an overview of management’s proposal and Human Resources VP Linda Brooks adding more details. Both management representatives emphasized that their proposal comes as McClatchy and The Bee continue to see declining year-over-year revenue. Note, however, that the Sacramento Bee is profitable, thanks in part to revenues from the Command Center.

One issue of potential concern for employees is a management proposal to pull back on some provisions governing the use of private and company cars. Brooks said the company is exploring eliminating company cars for advertising and newsroom employees, although their current proposal does not call for that.

The ad commission proposal offers significantly larger sales incentives, if sales people can meet tiered bonus levels. To qualify for the plan, employees would have to first attend a series of classes, pass a number of digital competency tests, then reach “threshold” goals for three consecutive periods or the accumulative 90-day equivalent for both total revenue and digital revenue.

In one example provided to the Guild, a territory sales executive could earn a yearly bonus of $32,000 by hitting a total revenue and digital revenue goal monthly.

Under the plan, the territory sales executive, for example, would earn bonus money for each sale after the 90 percent threshold. At 125 percent of goal (excellence point), the employee would earn $3,466.67. At the contract prescribed excellence point, the employee pay-out rate declines to 50 percent. Each employee class has different thresholds, rates and excellence points.

Your Guild committee offered a number of proposals aimed at improving staff morale and retaining employees. Those proposals included provisions to:

  • increase employee salary minimums by 2 percent
  • create a $15 per shift weekend differential
  • add a fifth week of vacation for employees with at least 15 years of service
  • commit to no additional layoffs in the first year of the agreement
  • restore the company 3 percent 401k match
  • increase the allowable maternity/paternity leave from 6 to 10 months
  • give long term interns subsequently hired credit for their years interning

Additionally, we asked the company to explore a digital bonus that would encourage all employees to actively participate in The Bee digital push. The next bargaining meeting is set for Dec. 2.

The Guild was represented by unit chair Ed Fletcher and Kat Anderson, Guild administrative officer. Bee management was represented by Linda Brooks, the Bee VP of Human Resources and attorney Aaron Agenbroad.
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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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