Posts filed under YAKIMA

New 2013-2017 Yakima Herald-Republic Contract Approved

The new 2013-2017 Yakima Herald-Republic Guild contract was approved in a ballot vote yesterday evening at the Herald-Republic. The proposal passed by a clear majority of the ballots cast. It has been a long-standing Pacific NW Guild practice not to publish the numbers relating to internal votes. However, any member in good standing who wants more detail on the vote can contact the Guild office at 206-328-1190. Any member in good standing can also examine the ballots and voting materials at the Guild office upon request.

Thank you to everyone who voted. Thank you also to everyone who filled out the issues survey and provided other input to the bargaining team. Your critical comments and positive suggestions were vitally important in directing our talks with the company. Regardless of whether or not you were satisfied with the final agreement, your voice and contribution were essential to any improvements and positive additions we gained in the final version. Your support and help as part of the union is very much appreciated by your bargaining team.

Guild 2013-2017 YHR Bargaining Team

Marcus Michelson (News, YHR Unit Chair) Mai Hoang (News) Darryl Sclater (PNW Guild Local Administrative Officer)

To submit a question or comment, or if you have a work-related issue, please email Administrative Officer Darryl Sclater at ao37082@gmail.com or call the Guild office at 206-328-1190.

Posted on January 9, 2014 and filed under YAKIMA, BARGAINING.

Yakima Herald-Republic Bargaining Bulletin #3

On Saturday, your Guild bargaining team and company representatives reached a tentative agreement on a new Guild contract at the Herald-Republic. The term of the contract is for four years, running from October 1, 2013 through September 30, 2017. The bargaining team was disappointed that the company would only agree to wage increases in the last two years of the contract, and these increases are quite small. However, we regard it as positive that the company agreed to withdraw its proposal to increase the employee-paid share of health insurance premiums. The current share will not change, and is secured for the duration of the contract. The company also withdrew its proposal to remove circulation District Managers from the bargaining unit, so that they would no longer be covered by the contract. While the new proposed contract has only limited wage improvements, it also contains no major concessions or take-backs of existing pay and benefits. On balance, we believe it is a net positive agreement that will provide sustained security for Herald-Republic members over the next four years. We are recommending the agreement for approval. The following is a summary of the key elements of the new agreement:

WAGES

The current pay scales will remain frozen this year and next year. Effective October 1, 2015, all wages and scales will increase by 0.5% across the board; effective October 1, 2016, wages and scales will increase by 1% across the board.

The current series of experience steps in each job classification will remain in place. Anyone who has been recently hired in any job classification and is not at the top step will continue to receive the appropriate step increase on their employment anniversary.

HEALTH INSURANCE

There will be no change in the current premium split for the term of the agreement. Employees will continue to pay 25% of the premium cost for their own insurance, and 35% of the cost for coverage of dependents.

SAFETY & ERGONOMICS

The company agreed to add a new section to the contract, providing a clear commitment to workplace health and safety, including ergonomic evaluation of work stations and equipment.

RECOGNITION & JURISDICTION

There will be no changes. Everyone currently covered by the contract will continue to be covered, including circulation District Managers.

COMMISSION SALES PLANS

We agreed to update the agreement covering commission sales plans, to provide for a specific set of tiered rates, as opposed to a single rate covering all products and sales.

VACATION

The annual seniority-based vacation selection period will be shortened by two weeks. Instead of running from January 1 through March 31, it will run from January 1 through March 15, so that employees wanting to use vacation in April and May will have a bit more time to usefully make plans.

Also, employees providing less than two weeks notice when they voluntarily resign or quit will risk losing a proportional amount of accrued vacation time, which would otherwise be cashed out in a lump sum. For example, if an employee gave only a week's notice, he or she could be charged one week of vacation. If the employee gave no notice, he or she could lose a full two weeks of accrued vacation. The company's stated goal was to encourage individuals to always give at least two weeks notice, and had originally proposed that employees lose all accrued vacation time if they did not do so. This seemed excessive, and we agreed on a smaller penalty that was proportional to the amount of notice actually provided.

FURLOUGH OPTION

The company requested an option to require a limited amount of furlough during the term of the agreement. (They emphasized that this was only an option, to be triggered only if necessary, and that there was no current plan or desire on the part of the company to impose any furlough.) We agreed to allow them to impose a maximum of five (5) days of furlough over the entire four years of the agreement, with a maximum of two (2) days allowed in any one year. In addition, the option could only be triggered if an equal amount of furlough was required from managerial and unaffiliated employees.

Present for the Guild: Marcus Michelson, Mai Hoang, Darryl Sclater.

Present for the Herald-Republic: Maria Barajas, Rick Oram.

We will be scheduling a formal ratification vote within the next couple of weeks, and members will be provided further notice of time and place. In the meantime, if you have questions or comments, please email yakimaguild@gmail.com, call the Guild office at 206-328-1190, or contact one of the Guild bargaining committee members.

Posted on December 10, 2013 and filed under YAKIMA, BARGAINING.

Yakima Herald-Republic Bargaining Bulletin #2

NEGOTIATIONS MAKE PROGRESS BUT BIG ISSUES REMAIN ON THE TABLE On Monday, your Guild bargaining team and company representatives held the second meeting in negotiations for a new Guild contract at the Herald-Republic. The two sides exchanged new counterproposals, and we reached tentative agreements on several different provisions. Additionally, in an effort to narrow the focus of bargaining, both sides withdrew some proposals. However, most of the remaining issues are big ones: pay, medical cost, furloughs, and the removal of some employees from coverage under Guild contract.

TENTATIVE AGREEMENTS

In the area of vacation administration, the company had proposed to shorten the annual selection period by a month, so that it would run from January 1 to February 28. The Guild counter-proposed to have it run from January 1 to March 15, and the company agreed.

The company had also proposed that any employee giving less than two weeks notice when quitting would forfeit all accrued vacation pay. The Guild counter-proposed that they only lose vacation pay up to a maximum of two weeks, and receive credit for however much notice they actually gave. (For example, if someone gave only one week of notice, they would lose one week of pay.) The company agreed to this counter-proposal.

The company agreed to the Guild proposal to add language covering safe conditions in the workplace, including provisions requiring ergonomic evaluations of equipment and workstations. They also agreed to our proposal to regularly report available sick time on employee pay stubs.

PROPOSALS WITHDRAWN

In order to focus on the key economic issues, the Guild withdrew its proposals on severance pay, holiday compensation, vacation accrual, 401(k) contribution, and mileage compensation. The company withdrew its proposals to change scheduling language.

MAJOR ISSUES STILL OPEN

Pay is the single biggest issue and we are still quite far apart. The Guild submitted a modified wage proposal to the company, providing for a four-year contract, as requested by the company, and calling for annual raises of 2.5 percent, 2 percent, 1.5 percent, and 1.5 percent over the four-year term. In addition we counter-proposed to the company, conditional on acceptance of our wage proposal, a provision allowing for the option of 5 days of furlough over the term of the agreement, with a maximum of 2 days in any one year. The furlough could only be triggered on a "me too" basis, if the company required furlough of its management employees as well.

The company made a small move from its original proposal of a four-year wage freeze, and put forward a modified proposal calling for a freeze of 3 years, with a 1 percent raise in the fourth year.

The company is standing by its proposal to raise the employee contribution for medical insurance from 25 to 30 percent for employee coverage, and from 35 to 40 percent for family coverage.

The company is also standing by its proposal to remove circulation department District Managers from the bargaining unit, and to make them "at will" or "exempt" employees. This would eliminate all contract protections for the group, including those covering seniority, pay, benefits, and discipline, and significantly erode the boundaries of the Guild unit as a whole.

Several other issues remain on the table, but these seem to be the biggest, based on our respective positions and what we have heard from Guild members about their priorities. We feel positive about the areas where we have been able to find agreement with the company so far, and hope to make progress on narrowing the distance between our positions at the next meeting.

The next bargaining session is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, Dec 7 at 10 a.m.

Present for the Guild: Marcus Michelson, Mai Hoang, Darryl Sclater.

Present for the Herald-Republic: Maria Barajas, Rick Oram.

To submit a question or comment, please email yakimaguild@gmail.com, call the Guild office at 206-328-1190, or contact one of the Guild bargaining committee members.

Posted on December 4, 2013 and filed under YAKIMA, BARGAINING.

Yakima Herald-Republic Bargaining Bulletin #1

GUILD AND COMPANY EXCHANGE OPENING PROPOSALS AT FIRST MEETING Yesterday, your Guild bargaining team and company representatives held the first meeting in negotiations for a new Guild contract at the Herald-Republic. Each side brought its opening proposal to the table, laying out the starting positions for further negotiations. Both proposals covered both economic and non-economic issues, including future wages.

THE GUILD PROPOSAL

The Guild proposed an agreement that would last for three years, with increases to base pay for all Guild employees of 2.5 percent each year of the agreement (7.5 percent total over the life of the agreement). We also proposed restoration of the flat 2 percent company contribution to the 401(k) plan for all Guild employees, in addition to the current company match.

In the areas of vacation and sick leave, we proposed to allow people to earn more vacation and sick time more quickly, and to save more of it for future use. On holidays, we proposed to permit more options for employees who have to work holidays, allowing them to choose between taking holiday pay or scheduling a different paid day off. We also proposed to expand sick leave and holiday coverage to part-time employees working 20-35 hours per week, so that they could obtain sick leave time and holiday pay on a pro rata basis, in the same way they currently earn vacation time.

Other proposed improvements included more severance pay for both newer and longer-term employees, doubling both the substitute and night differential premiums, basing mileage compensation on the IRS rate, and clarifying and simplifying the cell-phone reimbursement provisions.

We also proposed adding a new section to the contract, committing the employer to maintenance of a safe and healthy work environment, including ergonomic evaluation of workstations and provision of ergonomically sound equipment for all employees.

THE COMPANY PROPOSAL

The company proposed an agreement for four years, so as not to overlap with other contracts in the production area. The company's initial wage proposal was for a wage freeze for the entire term of the agreement.

In the second year of the agreement, the company proposed to raise employees' required contribution for their own medical insurance from 25 percent to 30 percent of the premium, and the employee contribution for dependents from 35 to 40 percent of the premium.

In the area of vacation scheduling, the company proposed shortening the period for selecting vacation time in seniority order by a month; instead of lasting from January 1 to March 31, the selection period would run from January 1 to February 28. Also, the company proposed that if an employee who resigns or quits fails to give two weeks notice, he/she would forfeit all accrued vacation time that would otherwise be paid out in a lump sum.

In a significant change to the jurisdiction and membership of the Guild, the company proposed to remove circulation District Managers from coverage under the contract, and to make them "at will" or "exempt" employees; this would eliminate all contract protections for the group, including those covering seniority, pay, benefits, and discipline.

The company made some technical proposals on scheduling and callbacks that needed some clarification. We expect to hear more about those items at the next meeting.

Finally, the company requested the option to require up to five days of furlough, if needed, over the life the of the contract.

NEXT MEETING

The two sides acknowledged that the two proposals were obviously far apart, but agreed that they were there to bargain in good faith on all issues. The next bargaining session will be on Monday, Dec 2 at 10 a.m.

Present for the Guild: Marcus Michelson, Mai Hoang, Darryl Sclater.

Present for the Herald-Republic: Maria Barajas, Rick Oram.

To submit a question or comment, please email yakimaguild@gmail.com, call the Guild office at 206-328-1190, or contact one of the Guild bargaining committee members.

Posted on November 21, 2013 and filed under YAKIMA, BARGAINING.