Press Democrat management continues to cite uncertainty in the news industry, rising health care costs and other factors as limits on what it can offer employees. Guild negotiators, also cognizant of these realities, sought reasonable pay increases in the 3 to 5 percent range and to limit increases in escalating health care costs for employees. But management balked at the offer.
Management is now proposing a 1 percent annual pay increase for employees who meet acceptable performance standards. Health care costs would remain the same for 2016, but by 2017, more of the financial burden would shift to employees and eventually there would be no cap on the employee share at all.
The two sides agreed to a substantial increase in cell phone stipends from $50 to $65 per month. In addition, new rules will allow parents returning to work to seek a part-time schedule for up to one year so long as the scheduling needs can be worked out with a supervisor.
Guild negotiators have made it clear that employees expect to recover some of the ground they lost after they voluntarily agreed to significant concessions so that Sonoma Media Investments could complete its purchase of the paper in 2012.
Press Democrat Guild members met with management in Rohnert Park as talks got underway for the next labor agreement. The Guild presented a list of contract demands that included significant pay increases, improvements to retirement benefits, job security and work-life balance concerns. Management outlined the general state of business operations, including what it said are pressures on advertising revenues and costs related to investments in new technologies.
Derek Moore, a reporter at The Press Democrat and chair of the Guild unit in Santa Rosa, has been appointed interim President of the Pacific Media Workers Guild following the resignation of Rebecca Rosen Lum.
When a group of local investors bought the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, the unionized news staff invested, too.
On November 8, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat was bought by Sonoma Media Investments along with the Petaluma Argus-Courier and North Bay Business Journal.
Guild member Derek Moore and new Press Democrat CEO signed a three-year labor contract that guarantees no lay-offs for the life of the contract. The Press Democrat was purchased on November 8th by a group of local investors.