Mercury bargaining emphasizes interests in economic gains, quality journalism.

October 9, 2015

The San Jose Mercury Guild bargaining committee met again Friday with company representatives in our continued contract talks. Our short-term contract extension expired Sept. 30 but all terms remain in place while we negotiate.

The Guild presented the specifics of our economic proposal, which we introduced in concept at our last meeting with management on Aug. 25.

Our proposal is narrowly focused on better pay and benefits:

• Term: Three years
• Wages: Across the board increase 5 percent each year
• Steps: Lift freeze and increase all employees to appropriate step based on experience
• H&W: Cap employee share of premium cost at 25 percent of total premium. Retain current plan design for duration of CBA
• Retirement: Match 401k at 50 cents on the dollar up to 3 percent of salary plus a $2,500 bonus/one-time contribution as a catch-up

The company deferred a response.

At our last meeting, company officials said they were working on a new business strategy involving consolidation. On Friday, they asked the Guild to discuss the possibility of consolidating the San Jose and East Bay contracts. The company said its goal is to “modernize” our contract and have it meet the demands of the print-to-digital industry shifts.

The Guild bargaining committee raised questions as to what our members would have to gain in such discussions. We emphasized that our interests going forward are economic gains and ensuring quality journalism, but stated that we are willing to discuss ways to make The San Jose Mercury News and its Bay Area News Group stronger. We agreed to initial, exploratory talks but made clear that if we do not find the proposals to be in our interests, we reserve the right at any point to end the consolidation discussion and return to bargaining our separate contract.

Agreeing to those terms, the company said it will now draft some early proposal language. Two members of the San Jose unit will offer to join representatives of the company and the East Bay unit in non-binding talks about what a consolidation might look like. We expect to meet in roughly a month.

Bargaining for Mercury News employees are committee members Karen de Sá, Karen D’Souza, Lisa Krieger, Karl Mondon and Carl Hall, our Guild representative from CWA Local 39521.

The company was represented today by General Counsel Marshall Anstandig, Human Resources manager Karen Austin and, for the first time, an observer from the Denver headquarters of Media News Group, senior vice president of human resources Missy Miller.

Thanks to you all. We will continue to update you.

Yours, Karen, Karen, Lisa and Karl

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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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