Sacramento Bee wants more furloughs; mum on merit pool

A second round of talks for Sacramento Bee and McClatchy Editorial Production units

Bargaining bulletin #2
November 19, 2014

Bee management unveiled most of its noneconomic proposals for a new three-year contract for Production Center employees when it met with Guild representatives on Wednesday. The parties also discussed certain issues subject to the annual reopener provision in the Sacramento Bee newsroom/advertising contract.


The company’s proposal mostly maintains the language of the existing agreement, with some minor updates of contract language. Several issues relating to pay remain unresolved. The Guild team raised questions concerning a few of the Bee’s proposed changes, but signaled agreement on most new terms.

On the key pay issues, the company awaits word from Corporate whether it will pay from a merit pool in the coming year. Management hopes to disclose this at the next bargaining session on Dec. 19.

Management wants to maintain the right to impose up to four week-long furloughs during the next three years. The Guild wants furlough provisions removed although we also offered to review this issue once all the company’s pay proposals are on the table. The Guild has proposed 3 percent across-the-board pay increases each year of the new contract.

Beyond housekeeping and economic issues, the talks also focused on some substantive noneconomic changes.

The Guild agreed in concept to allow management to provide less senior employees the chance to claim vacation during the year-end holiday weeks at least once every three years. Final details on implementation will come after review of similar programs in Modesto and Fresno.

The company proposes to remove sick leave provisions for part-time employees from the Production Center contract, and guarantee only to follow provisions in state law that set a sick leave minimum for part-timers. No current employees would be affected, but it could mean fewer sick days for future hires.

On cell phone use, the company wants to change its reimbursement policy so that if an employee uses his or her cell phone on company business, the employee shall be reimbursed for the cost of the call, or if the expense is not itemized, for a pro-rated amount of the monthly service charge, based on the employee’s estimate of business versus personal use. The Bee would have the right to require any employee to use a company cell phone for company business instead of reimbursing for the personal phone use. The Guild proposed to give employees the choice between a subsidy for business use of personal phones, or to use a company phone for work purposes.

The management also proposed language defining expense reports as “timely” if filed no more than 30 days after the expense is incurred.

Today’s session also included some general discussion of ways to encourage employees to become expert in new communications tools to help the company stay ahead of the latest technology. We suggested the Bee arrange for bulk purchase of some devices, such as the latest computer tablets or wearable devices, and pass along discounts to employees, while at the same time setting up training in how to use them for enhancing our work product.


Representing the Bee were managers Linda Brooks, Rita Bloomster and Gary Strong, and attorney Robert Ford. On the Guild side were Sacramento copy editor Ed Fishbein and reporter Ed Fletcher, along with Local 39521 Executive Officer Carl Hall and staff rep Kat Anderson.


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Michael Applegate

Pacific Media Workers Executive Officer

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