Seattle Times 2016 Bargaining Bulletin #8

 

KEY REMAINING ISSUES

In Thursday's bargaining session last week, the Guild and the company exchanged updated "package" proposals between the two sides.

By doing this, we were able to narrow the number of key issues that are still unresolved between us. Each side offered to withdraw some proposals, and to come to a mid-point compromise on others, if we could reach an overall agreement.

However, several key issues remain unresolved, and will likely determine whether or not we can reach a final agreement soon.


BASIC PAY RATES AND RAISES

For basic, across-the-board wage increases, the Guild side revised our proposed wage increases from 4 percent per year for three years, to 3 percent each of the first two years, and 2 percent the third year.

The company added a 1.5 (one-and-a-half) percent lump-sum bonus payment in July, 2017 to its proposal. So the company's revised offer is for a 1 percent raise in July of this year, the 1.5 percent lump-sum bonus in 2017, and another 1 percent raise in July 2018.

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OUTSOURCING TRANSITION AND SEVERANCE (HOME DELIVERY AND AD DESIGN)

For severance payment and timing of implementation, the Guild held to our proposal of two weeks of pay per year of service for the first five years , and one week of pay for each additional year after that, with minimum of six weeks and a maximum of 35 weeks. For timing on the outsourcing of ad design services, we revised our proposal to ask that no involuntary layoffs take place before September 1 of this year.

The company held to its proposal of one week of pay for each year of service, with two weeks minimum and 26 weeks maximum. They also continued to oppose any time limits on implementation.

On the Guild side, we continue to be concerned about both the total amount of severance, and the distribution. We would like to see better payouts overall, and a more even distribution, to allow for at least the partial coverage of medical costs and other continuing expenses for everyone being laid off.


PENSION

The company continued to stick with their proposal for a provision that would allow them to re-open mandatory bargaining related to the pension plan midway through the contract.

As we have described in earlier bulletins, this continues to be a major concern for the Guild committee. Given the open-ended nature of the proposal, we can't be clear on what its ultimate impacts might be.

It is difficult for us to see a way to come to agreement on this, since we can't know the full effects of what we would be agreeing to.


PARKING

For parking availability and cost at the Denny location, we got a bit closer, but not that much.

From the Guild side, we recognized that while the company will have access to parking provided by the developer during construction across the street, at this time the exact location and layout of that alternative parking arrangement is not known. So instead of asking for specific commitments in advance, we asked that the company agree to sit down with the Guild to address safety and security concerns, as they emerge during the process.

However, cost caps continue to be an issue.

The Guild repeated our proposal to cap the cost of a monthly parking permit at $100 for anyone required to regularly bring a car to the Denny location as part of their job.

Our fundamental point was that if the company really wants to limit increases in the cost of its parking subsidy, it should reduce the work requirements that oblige significant numbers of employees to maintain a monthly parking pass. If more people could work from home, or be assigned remotely, or be scheduled in such a way that parking passes could be shared, the costs would be reduced, both for the company and for employees. However, control of those business decisions rests with the company, not with employees. Therefore, the primary cost burden of not making those business changes should rest on the company, to provide an incentive for change.

The company did offer to continue to share 50% of the increase in any parking cost, up to a maximum of $350 total. Up to $175 would be paid by the company; after that, the employee would have to cover any increased cost.

For commuters, who personally pay the full cost of parking, the company continued to offer no commitments, either as to the availability of parking or cost.


SCHEDULING

The Guild committee is continuing to seek better commitments from the company on regular scheduling and notice of changes to schedules. We are also seeking an overtime penalty that would apply if a schedule change is made without proper notice and is not excusable based on illness, breaking news, or other genuine emergency. Our main desire is to have an incentive for consistent scheduling and notice of changes.


In most other areas, we feel either that we are quite close to agreement, or each side has nominally agreed to the same terms, if the remaining big issues can be resolved to its satisfaction.

Here is a selected list of other significant items, where both sides are at the same point in their offers:

- Expense submission: Must be within 60 days of employee knowing about the expense.

- Paid parental leave: 6 weeks, if the employee has sick time or EIB time accrued.

- Wage scales: Small increases to minimum scales for News Residents, News Assistants, and Field Assistants.

- Classifications: Creation of two new Sales & Advertising job classifications and one new pay classification; all new positions will continue to be fully covered by job-security protections of the contract.

- Medical insurance: Guarantee no increases to dependent premium cost shares and surcharges for 2017 and 2018 plan years.

- Dental insurance: Guarantee continuation of 50/50 premium split.


The Guild and management bargaining teams will meet again tomorrow, Thursday, June 9, from 9 a.m. to noon, to continue negotiation.


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 on any items of particular interest for you and are grateful for your solidarity and support!

 

Posted on June 8, 2016 and filed under BARGAINING, SEATTLE TIMES.