Modesto Bee company proposals show nothing but lean


NOVEMBER 20, 2014

The guild and company returned to the table to continue full contract negotiations Tuesday. The current contract expires Dec. 31. All areas of the contract will be open during this time including wages, benefits, expenses, work schedules, job functions and severance pay.

Meeting for the guild was Executive Officer Carl Hall, Administrative Officer Kat Anderson, Modesto Unit Chair Marijke Rowland and Bee reporter Joanne Sbranti. At the table for the company was McClatchy attorney Bob Ford, Editor Joe Kieta and VP of Human Resources Cathy Allison.

Both the guild and company exchanged full proposals (minus merit pool and wage details from the company).

Company Proposal Highlights:

Hours Reduction: Right to convert up to four full-time employees to part time. The reduction of hours could be made to avoid layoffs or for work efficiencies.

Split Shifts: Right to schedule up to three employees per work schedule to a split shift. The company could schedule an employee’s entire week as a split under this language.

Job Duties: Right to assign any kind of work (photography, writing, etc) to any unit employee and then evaluate them on the quality of this work. Right now they can assign non-job specific work, but cannot judge senior employees for quality of work they were not hired to do.

Furloughs: Right to impose up to two weeks of furloughs each in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Benefits: Create “me too” language in regards to life insurance benefits provided by the company meaning if coverage is changed or dropped for other departments it would be in editorial as well. Also create stronger language surrounding the ability to drop all benefit programs, including health insurance.

Mobile Reporter: No specific language was offered, because the company believes it has the right currently to create and assign someone to a “mobile reporter” position.

Guild Proposal Highlights:

Wages: 3 percent across the board wage increases to all pay grades.

Holiday: Creation of a floating holiday, tied to the anniversary of hire date.

Severance: Return severance cap to 40 weeks instead of the current 26 weeks.

Vacation: Add a fifth week of vacation for senior employees.

Reimbursements: Cover full cost of employee cell/data services – currently pay up to $30 for cell, up to $30 for internet.

Mileage: Return to IRS rate on the Mileage. Company currently pays 42 cents per mile, while the IRS rate is 56 cents per mile.

Job Security: Employees on the rehire list should receive notice of an opening.

Buyouts: Offer buyouts as a voluntary option before involuntary layoffs. Offer twice the severance for these buyouts.

Layoff Notice: Increase notice for layoffs to four weeks.

Sick Leave: Add a floating wellness day for 6 months perfect attendance. Employees could donate banked sick leave to an individual who needs it for an illness.

The guild also brought up in concept, but without specific language, the idea of creating a sabbatical option in lieu of a furlough. One or two employees could volunteer for a sabbatical and the time would be credited to the editorial unit and decrease or eliminate the amount of furlough each unit employee would have to take. We are working through details that would cover the leave-taker’s job rights.

The guild also brought up a question about the company’s conflict of interest policy and whether it still applied to furloughed employees. Company attorney Ford said it did, but the guild is arguing employees should be free to make a living during unpaid furlough time.

The company did not respond formally to any of the guild proposals. The guild offered a formal written response to the company’s job duties assignment and evaluation language. It required mandatory and thoroughly laid-out training for new duties before evaluation could begin and also that appropriate equipment be provided.

The company and guild will meet again Dec. 18 to continue negotiations. If you have any questions about either side’s proposals, don’t hesitate to ask.


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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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