Guild and McClatchy negotiators emerged from day-long discussions Tuesday, Dec. 15 with a tentative agreement on a new 3-year contract that boosts advertising commissions, offers modest newsroom pays raises, preserves the newsroom morning shift bonus and ensures company car fleet for the life of the agreement.
After two gentle bargaining sessions, the room was decidedly tenser Tuesday afternoon with both sides at odds over provisions relating to automobile insurance.
During the course of negotiations, management stated the company was getting “out of the car business” and it would no longer replace vehicles as they age.
Management sought to remove language that allowed employees to submit for reimbursement of a portion of their insurance costs, arguing the IRS reimbursement rate compensates for insurance and wear-and-tear.
While the insurance provision was not currently being used, the guild sought to preserve it.
“Overall we wanted management to know that the newsroom viewed eliminating company cars as a take away and feared that using our personal vehicles would result in a backdoor pay cut,” said Ed Fletcher, who chairs the newsroom/advertising unit.
“Nobody wants to drive their personal car to a forest fire, crime scene or snowstorm,” said Fletcher. “It’s important that they understood our concerns.”
The most significant changes to the contract surround the company’s new ad commission plan.
Under the tentative agreement, salespeople can earn significantly larger sales incentives, if they can meet tiered bonus levels. To qualify for the plan, employees would have to first attend a series of classes, pass a number of digital competency tests, then reach “threshold” goals for three consecutive periods or the accumulative 90-day equivalent for both total revenue and digital revenue.
In one example provided to the Guild, a territory sales executive could earn a yearly bonus of $32,000 by hitting a total revenue and digital revenue goal monthly.
Tuesday the company agreed to a number of modest concessions regarding the plan. Those employee-suggested tweaks include, decreasing the computer training required before eligibility, increased goal transparency and pulling back a proposed change to the “catastrophic loss” provision.
Under the agreement, newsroom employees will receive a 2 percent merit pool. Additionally, news and advertising salary ranges were adjusted. Newsroom salary scales will increase by 2 percent, if the agreement is ratified.