Seattle Times 2016 Bargaining Bulletin #5

Negotiations have been on hiatus for the last several weeks, due to scheduling needs on both sides of the bargaining table. However, we will resume bargaining on Thursday of this week.

In the interim, we would like to provide some additional details about proposals that were explored in earlier sessions or were updated.


The company has proposed to create a new job and pay classification in advertising sales. Right now, "Outside Sales" is a single job classification and is one of the jobs on the C.1 pay scale. 

The company proposal is to create a new classification covering outside sales work selling to clients defined as "regional" advertisers. 

The proposal would effectively create two “silos” in the area of outside sales, dividing people into one of two groups. Because the remaining work falling under the existing Outside Sales classification would be reduced, this proposal impacts not just anyone who might end up in the new classification, but also all those remaining in the existing one.

Even more significantly, the company proposal seeks to remove grievance and arbitration rights from the new classification. This means that anyone in the new classification could be terminated and replaced at any time at company discretion. Currently, every Guild employee who has completed six months of employment is protected by a "just cause" standard of discipline, which means that except in cases of economic layoffs where the total number of jobs is being reduced, the company must provide a valid justification for an employee's termination, which the employee can challenge under the contract grievance provisions.

As an offsetting factor, the base pay for the new position would be somewhat higher than the rate for the current Outside Sales position. Also, the company has said that no one would be moved into the new classification involuntarily. 

The Guild bargaining committee is extremely troubled by this proposal to create a two-tier system covering the most essential protections of the Guild contract. It seems to us a violation of the basic principles of solidarity and equity. Apart from that, despite the company's attempts at explanation, it is not at all clear to us why one group needs to be treated fundamentally differently based on any valid business purpose.


We have continued to discuss parking and commuting issues with the company, with mixed progress. 

For cases where vehicles are required for dispatch to assignments (such as for reporters, photographers, and outside sales staff), while we have not reached any agreements, the company has indicated that they are open to exploring possible alternatives and new ideas. The same applies to additional jobs where working from home may be an option. 

However, the future need for daily commuter parking continues to look like a much more difficult issue.

The company did provide a welcome counterproposal to the Guild's proposal to triple ORCA card transit subsidy. They proposed to double the level of the match, raising the annual contribution from $200 to $400.


On rules covering submission of expenses, we offered a counterproposal. Where the company wants a 30-day limit for submitting expenses, and new language referencing “finance department policies and procedures,” the Guild countered with a straightforward 6-month “drop dead” provision for submitting any known expense.

On the same topic, the company also clarified that any proposed time limit for submitting expense reports would not apply to any charges made on company-issued credit cards. While there is a time cycle for submitting expense reconciliations for these cards, the standing assumption is that all charges made on the cards are legitimate business expenses. So if an employee was late with a credit card reconciliation report, that person would not be considered liable for the unreconciled credit card balance. If an employee was repeatedly late in submitting reconciliations, the likely action from the company side would be to withdraw the credit card from future use.


The company put in writing an offer of severance to any Guild ad designers laid off as a result of their outsourcing proposal. The proposed severance package is the same as that offered under their new Home Delivery outsourcing proposal: one week of pay for each year of company service, up to a maximum of 20 weeks, plus a subsidy for 50% of the cost of employee-only COBRA medical coverage for six months.


The Guild and management bargaining teams will meet again on Thursday, April 21, from 9 a.m. to noon.


Guild Bargaining Committee: Phil Kearney (Advertising), Rob Davila (News), Barb Heller (Circulation), Darryl Sclater (TNG)


Any unit member with questions or concerns about any of these proposals can talk with one of the Guild committee members or contact the Guild office.


Posted on April 18, 2016 and filed under BARGAINING, SEATTLE TIMES.