San Francisco Chronicle/SFGATE NewsGuild ratifies groundbreaking contract

Members of the SF Chronicle/SFGATE Guild stand together after participating in a lunch out earlier this year. Members are posing with the Chronicle building in the background while holding their colorful rally signs.
Members of the SF Chronicle/SFGATE Guild stand together after participating in a lunch out earlier this year. Members are posing with the Chronicle building in the background while holding their colorful rally signs.

The Pacific Media Workers Guild is thrilled to share this announcement on behalf of our members in the S.F. Chronicle/SFGate Guild, who this week ratified a new contract with the Hearst Corporation.

The S.F. Chronicle/SFGATE Guild overwhelmingly approved a new contract with the Hearst Corporation after more than two years of negotiations.

The new, four-year contract significantly improves pay, gives employees additional vacation time, holidays and health benefits and guarantees annual pay raises.

Members voted overwhelmingly to ratify the contract Monday and Tuesday, with 99% approval of those voting.

“Hearst has told us time and again that the Chronicle and SFGATE are thriving businesses. It’s important to remember that Guild-represented employees are the backbone of that success. The best thing about finalizing this contract is knowing that the people actually doing the hard work of serving our readers and communities will receive fair wages and benefits in return for making the Chronicle and SFGATE the success stories that they are,” said Todd Trumbull, SFC/SFGATE unit co-chair.

Key highlights of the agreement include:

SALARIES: Higher minimum pay, guaranteed minimum raises

  • All full-time newsroom employees will receive an annual salary of at least $73,000. We believe this is the highest minimum salary of any major unionized newsroom in the U.S.
  • Employees who receive a performance evaluation rating of satisfactory or above will be guaranteed to receive at least a 2% raise each year, from a total pool equaling 2.5% of employees’ salaries. This means our members will receive on average a 2.5% wage increase each year, and employees may receive more at the discretion of management.

More time off, parental leave

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Juneteenth have been added as paid holidays, along with three additional personal days that can be used throughout the year.
  • Employees now receive three weeks of annual vacation upon hire (up from two weeks), and that increases to four weeks after eight years with the Chronicle.
  • Fully paid parental leave has been expanded to eight weeks for California-based employees and five weeks for those outside California. Previously there was no guaranteed paid parental leave beyond state-provided benefits.

Other changes

  • Non-discrimination language has been clarified to prevent pay disparities based on protected categories.
  • Severance pay minimum has been increased to four weeks, providing enhanced support during transitions.
  • Posting of schedules will now occur two weeks in advance, promoting better work-life balance.
  • Health and safety provisions empower employees to decline or modify hazardous assignments based on safety concerns.
  • Improved bereavement leave, book/project leave and faster expense reimbursements.
  • The company’s match for the 401(k) plans will start immediately for new employees, eliminating waiting periods.

This agreement represents a significant step forward in ensuring fair compensation, improved benefits and better working conditions for all of our valued employees. We are proud of the progress made during these negotiations and believe that these changes will contribute to a more prosperous and fulfilling future for our members.

The involvement of Chronicle/SFGATE Guild members was instrumental in achieving this contract. When we started bargaining in July 2021, management employed some of the usual anti-union rhetoric, labeling the Guild a third party looking out for its own interests and trying to interfere with the Chronicle’s relationship with its employees. Their initial proposals took the same approach, proposing to make Guild membership voluntary, making it harder to collect dues and insisting that all raises be given at the whims and with the biases of management.

Our members, from the start and repeatedly through the back and forth of bargaining, made it clear that was not acceptable. Many of them showed up at the bargaining table — either via Zoom or in person — to provide testimony or simply support.

Members generated contract action campaigns that included not just social media but artistic posters and even a zine. When negotiations stagnated, members signed a letter to management stating their support for the bargaining team and promising to take any actions necessary to win a respectable contract. Over 90% of members signed that statement. When talks stalled again, members joined a lunch-out and rally, leaving the newsroom without Guild journalists.

Each time the Guild took action, we saw positive movement at the bargaining table.

“It was the indefatigable effort of our bargaining team backed up by the relentless support of our members that secured this contract,” said Michael Cabanatuan, also a unit co-chair. “We stood together and won.”

While all our members deserve credit for this contract, we want to specifically thank some former members of the bargaining committee, many of whom left the Chronicle: Dustin Gardiner, Caroline Grannan, Lauren Hernandez, Tal Kopan, Shwanika Narayan and Sarah Ravani.

We know this contract isn’t perfect, but it’s a big step in the right direction, continuing to regain some of the things we gave up in the past decade to help keep the Chronicle afloat when it was losing millions of dollars — and helping Chronicle workers survive in the increasingly costly Bay Area they cover.

The Chronicle bargaining team:
Michael Cabanatuan
Megan Cassidy
Jess Christian
Soleil Ho
Marisa Ingemi
Susie Neilson
Jordan Parker
Todd Trumbull
Hunter Paniagua (PMWG field representative)
Michael Applegate (PMWG executive officer)

Author Image
Hunter Paniagua

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *