Chronicle unit members share a cup of solidarity before bargaining

Guild bargaining reps Jon Ferguson and Autumn Grace flank Guild unit chair Michelle Devera

Bargaining Bulletin #6
San Francisco Chronicle Unit

NY Hearst reps travel light

Representatives of the Hearst Corp., which owns the San Francisco Chronicle, met with the Chronicle Guild bargaining committee today, rejected almost all aspects of the Guild’s proposal for a new labor agreement, and did not present a counter-offer.

Guild members expressed disapproval and disappointment, particularly after four months of Hearst delays and cancelled meetings. The company representatives said they needed that time to research an alternative approach to the Chronicle’s current health plan, in which benefits are provided by a jointly administered union-management trust.

Today, however, the Hearst representatives offered nothing more than a one-page summary showing that Cigna proposes to provide a lower-cost health plan through an array of cost control features — the same sort of distasteful options our consultants have been offering for months.

Bargaining delays since our last face-to-face meeting on June 26 have put the Health & Welfare Trust in dire and worsening circumstances because of an ongoing $110,000 monthly deficit.

Our health plan has a reserve, but the monthly deficits are reducing it each month to nearly the critical level of $1.5 million, an amount considered necessary to maintaining solvency. Hearst attorneys rejected the Guild’s proposal to solve the monthly deficit by kicking in $1 million a year, while employees offered to accept $500,000 in cost cuts or higher premiums.

Hearst also rejected the Guild offer to have a 401(k) match plan, saying it was antithetical to its “philosophy” at union-represented workplaces.

Hearst rejected our proposal to restore a fifth week of vacation. One reason, the company said, concerns maintaining a “consistent” vacation policy with the management. They also said more vacation would damage productivity.

Management deferred its response to our proposal for a 4 percent annual pay increase in each year of our proposed three-year contract. The Hearst representatives said they wanted to consider pay in the context of solving the health care issue.

The discussions were adjourned with no tentative agreements, but will reconvene at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Representing the Guild:
Michael Cabanatuan, Jon Ferguson, Autumn Grace, Matthai Kuruvila, Kat Anderson and Carl Hall, Guild Executive Officer.
Barbara Jaramillo, from editorial, observed.

Representing the management:
Carolene Eaddy and Aryn Sobo, Hearst counsel; Cathy Rommelfanger, HR; Suzy Cain, chief financial officer.


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Michael Applegate

Pacific Media Workers Executive Officer

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