Seattle Times 2016 Bargaining Bulletin #7




In Tuesday's bargaining session last week, the Guild made counter-proposals to the company on their outsourcing proposals. The company responded on Thursday with a broad economic proposal, including their first general proposal on wages.

The company presented their overall proposal as a package, meaning that to get any one item, we would need to agree to everything. We could not pick and choose the different parts.

This does not mean that we could not propose other combinations, just that the company was being careful to limit the conditions of their current proposal.


For basic, across-the-board wage increases, the company proposed 1 percent in July of this year, zero in 2017, and another 1 percent in July 2018.

These increases would apply to both the minimum scale rates in the contract, and to an individual's personal rate, if it is above the scale.


On benefits, we had proposed reducing the maximum employee contribution for spouse and family coverage to 30 percent, and guaranteeing it for the term of the contract. The company counter-proposed keeping the maximum at the current 35 percent, and guaranteeing that rate for the 2017 and 2018 plan years. After that, it would be "same as" the rate for managerial and unaffiliated employees.

We had also proposed to eliminate the "spousal surcharge." The company counter-proposed to cap it at the current $75 per month for 2017 and 2018, after which it would also be "same as" the charge for managerial and unaffiliated employees.

The maximum contribution for individual employee insurance would remain at the current 20 percent (we had proposed to reduce it to 15 percent).

The company would accept our proposal to lock in the current 50/50 split on the cost of dental coverage for the term of the contract


We had proposed up to eight weeks of paid parental leave, with a provision to add paid time up to that amount if an employee did not have sufficient paid sick time accrued to cover the full amount.

The company counter-proposed to allow use of paid sick time for up to six weeks of paid parental leave, but only if the employee has the accumulated time available. (Currently, paid sick time is accrued at the rate of 80 hours per year for a full-time employee, and on a pro rata basis for part-time employees.)


The company offered to withdraw their proposal to mandate use of a personal cell-phone. This would remain at the status quo, where the company is responsible to provide any mandatory equipment, but if use of a personal cell phone is approved, it will be reimbursed at up to $50 per month.


For employees required to bring cars to work, the company offered to continue to provide parking at a nearby facility, and to continue to pay 50% of the monthly cost, but only for any total amount less than $300. If the total monthly cost exceeds $300, the employee would have to pay 100% of any additional cost.

For employees occasionally called to work from a remote location, the company offered to provide access to parking, but not to pay for it.

For employees needing to use a personal vehicle for commuting purposes, the company offered no future commitments on either availability or cost of parking.


On Tuesday, we proposed to raise the minimum and maximum levels of severance available, based on years of service. As part of this proposal, we also proposed to dispense with the separate 50% subsidy for six months of employee-only COBRA medical insurance. We feel it simply makes more sense to provide people additional money toward all their expenses, including medical coverage either from COBRA or another source.

We proposed to raise the minimum amount of severance from two weeks pay to six weeks pay, and to raise the maximum from 20 weeks to 35 weeks. Employees would receive two weeks per year for the first five years of service, and one week for each additional year after that. 

We also proposed that no involuntary layoffs take place in the Ad Design group before December 1 of this year.

On Thursday, the company came back with a proposal to raise the maximum amount of severance to 26 weeks. The minimum would remain at two weeks. However, this was also offset by elimination of the company's original COBRA subsidy proposal. They also rejected the proposed time limit on layoffs.


The company provided some additional pay information on their new proposed Outside Regional Sales position. 

The pay scale would be higher than the current C1 scale, but would have only four steps instead of six. The lowest level on the new scale would be 4 percent above the current top on the C1 scale (an increase of $0.98 per hour). After four years, the highest level for the new scale would be $4.32 per hour above the highest level on the C1 scale, which is a final difference of approximately 17 percent between the top of the two scales. 

The tradeoff in the company's proposal is that anyone in the new classification could not grieve or arbitrate any discipline for job performance, up to and including termination. Effectively, with regard to job performance, they would be "at will" employees.

From the Guild side, we had proposed to eliminate a similar limitation on the grievance and arbitration protections for News Residents. The company counter-proposed to reduce that limitation to the first 18 months of a residency, rather than the full three-year term.


The company's overall package included a general requirement to accept all the rest of the company's "most recent proposals."

This would include the company's most recent proposal for a re-opener provision covering the pension plan, which we described in the last bulletin, and the 45-day limit on submitting expenses.

The company also has offered to accept some additional Guild proposals on administration of substitute pay and overtime pay.

The Guild bargaining team appreciates the fact that the company made a proposal that is serious and substantive in a lot of areas. However, we feel we still have a number of serious differences to resolve before we can get to a final agreement.

The Guild and management bargaining teams will meet again this week on Thursday, June 2, 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.

We welcome your input and appreciate your solidarity and support!


Posted on May 30, 2016 and filed under BARGAINING, SEATTLE TIMES.