Posts filed under BARGAINING

Bargaining Opens For New Contracts At Seattle Times

A Guild bargaining committee met today with a committee from Seattle Times management to open negotiations on a new contract covering the news, advertising, and circulation departments at the Times.

A second meeting will be held tomorrow to open discussions on the separate contract for the Guild-affiliated Composing unit at the Seattle Times.

Representing the TNG unit today were PNNG Local President Phil Kearney (Seattle Times, Advertising), Rob Davila (Seattle Times, News), Barb Heller (Seattle Times, Circulation), and Darryl Sclater (TNG Sector Representative and acting local administrator).

Together with Sclater, Rena Mefford (Seattle Times, Composing) and Michelle Uhrbom (Seattle Times, Composing) will form the union committee for tomorrow’s meeting.

A full bargaining bulletin with details of both meetings will be posted following the conclusion of the Composing session.

Further scheduled meeting dates for the TNG contract are:

Wednesday, February 24
Friday, February 26
Wednesday, March 2
Friday, March 4

Additional dates for Composing are:

Monday, February 22
Monday, February 29

In accordance with the TNG constitution, all bargaining sessions are open to interested members of the bargaining units who may wish to observe. If you are interested in attending a session, please contact the Guild office regarding meeting times and room locations.

Posted on February 10, 2016 and filed under BARGAINING, SEATTLE TIMES.

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.

New 2013-2016 Seattle Times Contract Approved

Voting on the proposed Seattle Times 2013-2016 contract concluded at noon today. A committee of Guild members tallied the ballots immediately following the close of voting. The proposed new contract 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 participated in the process along the way, by responding to surveys, attending issues meetings, sending in e-mails, talking with members of the committee, and communicating with fellow employees and Times managers. Critical comments and positive suggestions were equally 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 vital to any improvements and positive additions we gained in the final version.

All the upside to this agreement was fundamentally owing to YOU, because at the end of the day, you ARE the union. Thank you again for playing your part and supporting the bargaining team at the table.

Guild 2013-2016 Bargaining Team

Ralph Erickson (Circulation, Local President) Phil Kearney (Advertising) Karl Neice (News) Darryl Sclater (Local Administrative Officer) Darren Carroll (Guild International Representative)

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 June 7, 2013 and filed under SEATTLE TIMES, BARGAINING.

Seattle Times Guild Unit -- Contract Informational Meetings and Voting Dates -- REVISED

IMPORTANT NOTICE: INFORMATIONAL MEETINGS CANCELED AND RESCHEDULED

We apologize for the late notice and any inconvenience, but we have been forced to cancel Thursday's informational meetings due to illness. THERE WILL BE NO MEETINGS IN THE VANCOUVER ROOM THURSDAY.

The meetings have been rescheduled for next week, along with the contract voting days. The new schedule is posted below.

* REVISED SCHEDULE *

INFORMATIONAL MEETINGS AND VOTING

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 5

WHERE: Vancouver Room (main room off ground floor lobby)

WHEN: 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

PURPOSE: Contract review and discussion; vote on contract from 11:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

VOTING AND FOLLOWUP PRESENTATIONS

THURSDAY, JUNE 6

WHERE: San Juan Conference Room (on ground floor hallway)

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

PURPOSE: Vote on contract with additional presentations on contract at times TBA

If you have any questions about the new schedule, please email Administrative Officer Darryl Sclater at ao37082@gmail.com, call the Guild office at 206-328-1190, or contact one of the Guild bargaining committee members.

Posted on May 27, 2013 and filed under SEATTLE TIMES, BARGAINING.

Tentative Agreement -- Seattle Times Bargaining Bulletin #14

After two days of intensive bargaining on Wednesday and Thursday, the Guild bargaining team yesterday evening reached a tentative contract agreement with Times management. The following is a brief summary of the major terms of the agreement. This is mainly to give everyone a broad overview of the whole agreement; we also expect to put out additional department-focused updates with more details, as well as the full package of all draft contract documents and a comprehensive summary before the membership votes. We anticipate voting on the agreement in approximately two weeks. Informational meetings will be arranged before and on the days of voting for questions and discussion. The unanimous recommendation of the bargaining team is to approve this agreement. While this is certainly not the agreement we hoped to achieve going into bargaining, after four-and-a-half months of meetings with the company, we believe it is the best agreement achievable at this time. We are sure many of you will have doubts and concerns about the agreement, and we want to be sure to address all of those fully and completely. We urge all Guild members to plan to attend an informational meeting and vote. In the meantime, if you have questions or comments, we encourage you to contact the Guild office or one of the Guild bargaining team members.

Guild Bargaining Team

Ralph Erickson (Circulation, Local President) Phil Kearney (Advertising) Karl Neice (News) Darryl Sclater (Local Administrative Officer) Darren Carroll (Guild International Representative)

WAGES

The term of the contract is for three years, through February 1, 2016. There will be no wage increase or bonus payments in 2013. Effective February 1, 2014 (approximately 8 months from now) all staff will receive a 1.5 percent across-the-board wage increase. In addition, effective February 1, 2015, all staff will receive a lump-sum bonus equal to 1.5 percent of annual pay.

RETIREMENT

We remain at the status quo. The 401(k) company match remains at 50 percent of the first 4 percent of employee contributions. The “me too” provision that requires a reinstatement of pension accruals for Guild employees if the company resumes them for unaffiliated employees will become a permanent part of the contract agreement.

MEDICAL

In bargaining, the company initially demanded complete control to set and change all medical premium shares between employees and the company. Instead, we agreed to the following limits:

The company will be able change current employer/company premium shares, if necessary, but only up to certain caps. For employee-only coverage, the premium share may change from the current 15 percent employee/85 percent company share, up to 20/80, but not more than that. For dependent coverage, the share may move from the current 30 percent employee/70 percent company share, up to 35/65, but not beyond that in 2014 and 2015. In addition, the current “spousal surcharge" of $100 will be reduced to $75 in 2014 and capped at that level for 2015.

INCENTIVES

In bargaining, the company initially demanded the right to assume control of all incentive payments in the Advertising and Circulation departments, and to add, reduce, or eliminate them at its own discretion. Instead, we agreed to create a set of guaranteed incentive pools, which would be based on the total amount of at-goal incentive currently available to all Guild staff in a given classification or work area. While the company will have some flexibility to vary at-goal incentive payments among different jobs and positions, the total minimum amount of at-goal incentive available in the pool must remain the same. There can be no reduction below the average total amount of at-goal incentive money available to Guild members as of right now.

HOME DELIVERY

We agreed to major changes that will allow the company to transfer a certain amount of Home Delivery work to a limited number of independent, third-party dealerships and to replace a limited number District Adviser positions with lower-paid positions. In exchange, the company agreed to a severance package providing up to 26 weeks of pay and a 50 percent subsidy for 12 months of COBRA medical coverage for any Home Delivery staff laid off voluntarily or involuntarily over the life of the agreement. Currently there are 18 districts in Home Delivery. The total number of districts that the company can mandate for conversion to dealerships is capped at 2 per year, up to a total of 6 over the life of the agreement. All staff positions in the districts not converted to dealerships will remain Guild jobs.

SENIORITY

In one of our last and most difficult decisions in the course of bargaining, we reluctantly agreed to the creation of limited number new job classifications in the News department that are specific to the Sports sub-department. We agreed to the new classifications of:

Sports Columnist Sports Desk Editor Sports Copy Editor Sports Reporter Sports Zone Reporter Sports News Resident

The company did agree to withdraw its proposals to create the classifications of Sports Page Designer and Sports News Assistant.

OUTSIDE ACTIVITIES

The company withdrew its proposal to require prior permission or notification for outside activities and we will retain current language.

JURISDICTION AND NEW MEDIA

In the News, Advertising, and Marketing departments, we agreed to a set of side agreements that will allow a limited sharing of work between Guild and unaffiliated staff. The repeated plea of the company was for flexibility that would allow them to respond to short-term and evolving needs, and that they had no long-term designs to reduce Guild staff per se. However, they came in demanding the complete and total elimination of all jurisdictional boundaries between Guild and unaffiliated work. We have tried to work with them regarding their stated needs, while retaining appropriate protections for our people. Because of the different nature of the work and staffing levels in different departments, we tried to come up with formulas appropriate to the specific work area, not just to protect current and future Guild staff, but to enhance the opportunities of Guild members to add new online-related skills and perform online related work:

In Ad Graphics, Creative Services, and Ad Sales Support, we have agreements on specific staffing ratios that will keep in place the current ratio of Guild and unaffiliated staff. Unaffiliated staff may freely share in print work. However, Guild staff will also share in online work, and regardless of the change in the relative balance between total print and total online work, the relative staffing levels must remain the same. Guild staff will receive the necessary and appropriate training to allow them the perform any needed share of online work.

In Ad Publications, we agreed that unaffiliated staff may contribute up to 10 percent of content in any two-month period, if needed, but no more than that.

In Ad Sales, we agreed to allow unaffiliated online sales reps to sell a certain amount of print advertising, as long as it does not exceed 10 percent of total print ad dollar volume in any two-month period. Unaffiliated reps may retain new accounts that they prospect, and a limited number of print accounts may be transferred to online reps, with offsets for any negatively affected Guild print staff. Print reps will receive additional training to allow them to become more effective in selling online products without necessarily needing to rely on a separate online rep.

In the News department, a limited number of unaffiliated digital staff will be eligible to regularly work on print products. The total number of such staff will be capped at a 10 percent ratio to the total number of Guild News staff, and none of them can spend more than 50 percent of their total work time on print-related work. Other digital staff may occasionally and irregularly provide content for print products, provided it never totals more than 2 percent of the total amount of print news content over the course of a month. Conversely, the company’s stated intention is to continue to shift online work to Guild staff, through such arrangements as the “Visiting Producer” program, and to rely on Guild staff for the production of the bulk of online content.

EXPENSES

The company agreed to commit to continue to pay 50 percent of the parking cost for employees required to bring their vehicles to the Denny location for work, for as long as they retain ownership of the main parking lot at Fairview and Denny.

Mileage expenses will continue to paid at the IRS rate for all staff.

TRANSIT PASS

The company will double its matching contribution to employees ORCA transit account, to $100 twice annually.

PHOTOGRAPHERS’ EQUIPMENT

The company agreed to broaden the protections for photographers in the event they have personal equipment damaged or stolen while on assignment, and also agreed to a cashout severance provision, in the event photographers are laid off with an outstanding balance still owed to them under the equipment purchase reimbursement plan.

COMMISSION SALES

The company will be changing the base commission rate for all product types to a uniform 10 percent. This will be subject to the three-month notification provision of the Commission Sales agreement, and will not take place before September 1.

COMPOSING SHARED JURISDICTION

We continue to work on a modified version of the Shared Jurisdiction side agreement that provides for the sharing of work between the Guild main unit and the Composing unit. This is a three-party agreement involving the two union units and the Times. From the Guild side the major change in the agreement would be to add some functions of the Operations department to work that could be shared between the two units. The Composing contract remains under negotiation, and we expect to complete agreement on the Shared Jurisdiction Agreement when we complete bargaining on the new Composing contract.

To submit a question or comment, please email Administrative Officer Darryl Sclater at ao37082@gmail.com, call the Guild office at 206-328-1190, or contact one of the Guild bargaining committee members.

Posted on May 17, 2013 and filed under SEATTLE TIMES, BARGAINING.

Company's Revised Proposals Show Some Movement -- Seattle Times Bargaining Bulletin #13

Our two days of bargaining with the Times last week involved a fairly full round of back and forth exchanging of proposals and counter-proposals. We reached tentative agreements on several issues, and were encouraged by some fairly significant moves made by the company team. However, almost all the major issues remain on the table, and the degree to which the company moved varied quite a bit from one area to another. On some issues they did not move at all. While we are generally encouraged, we see quite a bit of work still to be done, and welcome continued input from the membership as we try to narrow down the number of outstanding issues and the distance between the Guild and the company. In the completed column, we reached tentative agreements on an updated Photographers’ Equipment Plan and an increased transit pass subsidy. The Equipment Plan should provide some modest additional protections and benefits for photographers using their own equipment. The transit pass language doubles the existing annual subsidy, and while it still remains modest at $200, it adds the subsidy guarantee to the contract.

We also reached tentative agreement on arrangements to share work with unaffiliated online staff in the areas of graphic design and ad sales support, subject to specific limits that keep the relative Guild and unaffiliated staff in balance.

In several other areas where the company has proposed sharing work between Guild and unaffiliated staff, we remain concerned about the potential effects of the company proposals. In the newsroom the company has proposed allowing unaffiliated online staff do up to 10 percent of Guild print-related work. In ad sales, they have proposed permitting unaffiliated online sales staff to handle up to 10 percent of all print ad sales. Both of these proposals were step-backs from previous proposals to allow 15 percent in each area, and were therefore positive.

However, it still seems to the Guild team that these numbers remain very large in terms of the specific needs the company has expressed, and the current relative staffing levels between Guild and unaffiliated. (For example, in the newsroom there are currently 7 unaffiliated online rank-and-file staff, compared to approximately 160 for the Guild.) Unlike the agreements we achieved in graphic design and ad support, the company proposals here do not set a specific ratio between Guild and unaffiliated staff. Instead, they only set limits on work or total sales, to which staff levels could presumably be adjusted after the fact.

Further, we remain unclear on exactly how shared work would be tracked in the newsroom. We are not clear if hours of work would be counted, or the volume of content produced for the print edition, or how one measure might potentially be combined with the other.

In the area of advertising sales incentives and commissions, the company made a very welcome change when they moved away from their previous demand to assume complete control over all incentive and commission plans, which could then be revised or eliminated at will. Instead, for sales staff and circulation staff, they proposed guaranteeing a base pool of incentives, which could then be redistributed by the company within a given job classification. We are analyzing these proposals carefully to see how they could affect different groups and different individuals with groups. However, for several non-sales positions in the Sales and Marketing department, the company is continuing to demand the right to eliminate current incentive plans, if and when it judges them to be no longer “appropriate.” These positions are currently occupied by about two dozen mostly lower-level Guild staff, and incentives currently make up a major portion of their pay. While the company says it has no “immediate” plans to remove the incentive payments, the Guild team remains very concerned about the lack of security for these members as far as what might happen to their pay in the future.

Another welcome move from the company side was the dropping of their demand for full control over all benefit premiums. Instead, they proposed insertion of an option to change, if necessary, the current employer/employee percentage cost-share on employee medical coverage from 85/15 to 80/20. It was welcome that the company proposed both a set figure, as well structured it as a future option rather than an immediate change. However, the Guild team also remains focused on concerns from the membership about the cost-share on family coverage, and we are continuing to seek a set number for the premium share there as well.

The company made a slight modification to their proposal on outside activities. Instead of requiring prior “permission” for any outside work, they proposed language requiring prior “notification.” In practical terms, we are not sure that there is any real difference between the proposals.

From the Guild side, we requested that in the interests of furthering negotiations, the company side withdraw their proposal to create a “Sports Silo” within a number of newsroom job classifications. The company refused to do so, and reaffirmed their commitment to the proposal.

We also reduced our base wage proposal, lowering it to a stepped set of pay increases of 2 percent, 2.5 percent, and 3 percent over the term of the contract.

The company held on to their proposal for a 1 percent one-time bonus payment in the second year of the contract, but did agree to convert their proposal for a merit pool in the third year to a 1 percent across-the-board pay increase.

We are also continuing to work with the company on a transition plan to achieve what the company believes will be significant cost savings in the Home Delivery department through the introduction of outside dealerships. The company initially proposed 13 weeks of severance and payment of 50% of COBRA medical coverage for any employees permanently losing their jobs during the transition. We countered with a proposal for 39 weeks and full payment of COBRA. The company then raised their offer to 20 weeks, but did not move on the COBRA. We expect to have further negotiations on these and further details of the transition plan before reaching final agreement.

Any agreement by the Guild on a plan for Home Delivery will constitute a major concession of jurisdiction, and will result in significant job and membership losses. Given the changes in our industry, we are trying to come up with an agreement that will work for the company and for the members losing jobs. However, with a few minor exceptions the rest of the company’s proposals also involve significant concessions by the Guild as well. We continue to look for ways to reduce the negative impact of company proposals on all our members, and to add positive off-sets to balance what we are being asked to give up. Please continue to send us your input, and encourage your fellow Guild co-workers to do so as well.

Present for the Guild: Ralph Erickson, Karl Neice, Phil Kearney, Darryl Sclater, Darren Carroll.

Present for the Times: Mike Shepard, Martin Hammond, Valerie Inforzato, Leon Espinoza, Mike Sheehan, Rob Petersen.

The Guild's next meeting with the company will be Wednesday, May 15.

To submit a question or comment, please email Administrative Officer Darryl Sclater at ao37082@gmail.com, call the Guild office at 206-328-1190, or contact one of the Guild bargaining committee members.

Posted on May 9, 2013 and filed under SEATTLE TIMES, BARGAINING.

New Proposal for Home Delivery -- Seattle Times Bargaining Bulletin #12

At today’s bargaining session the company presented a new proposal intended to achieve cost-savings in the Home Delivery department. While it is less extreme than what had been discussed before, it would still involve major concessions by the Guild in the area of our core jurisdiction, and would have a major, direct, and unavoidably negative impact on Guild members working in Home Delivery. However, it also introduced some ways to limit and offset that negative impact. Previously the company had outlined two distinct options for the future of Home Delivery. The first would have involved a simple option to transfer all Home Delivery operations to a group of independently contracted outside dealerships, each of which would be responsible for delivery in a specific area. The second would have maintained the existing employee-based operation, in which Guild employees supervise delivery, but with drastically reduced pay and staffing levels.

The new proposal is a limited hybrid of the two approaches. It would allow a limited number of dealerships to be introduced over the term of contract. And while it would not involve any pay cuts for anyone currently employed, it would allow the introduction of a new, lower-paid classification (to be called District Manager) which would perform the same functions as current District Advisers.

Currently there are 18 delivery districts in the Home Delivery department, and 18 District Advisers. The company proposes to eliminate four District Adviser positions each year for three years, for a total of twelve over the term of the contract. Of the four delivery districts affected each year, two would be converted to independent dealerships, and two would have the District Adviser replaced by a lower-paid District Manager. Assuming the total number of districts remains constant at 18, at the end of three years we would have six dealerships, six districts run by District Managers, and six districts run by the remaining District Advisers.

The elimination of the four DA positions per year would be conducted in the form of layoff by seniority order. Replacement volunteers for layoff would also be accepted by seniority, per the terms of the contract. In the case of the two districts per year in which the DA would be replaced by a District Manager, the DA being laid off would have the option of stepping down to the lower-paying DM position and remaining employed. If no DA elects to do so, the newly created District Manager positions would be offered first to qualified Assistant District Advisers.

The company is proposing a set severance package to be paid to all DA’s laid off for any reason, which would remain in effect for the term of the contract. The proposed package is one week of pay for each year of service, up to a maximum of thirteen weeks, and company payment of 50 percent of COBRA medical coverage premiums for twelve months. The same severance package would also be made available to any Assistant District Adviser or Zone Clerk who is laid off after the introduction of dealerships goes into effect. The earliest the program could start would be June 1 of this year.

The proposal also provides that if the company discontinues distribution of the Everett Herald, two additional districts could be converted to dealerships. Further, if the company ever decides to reduce Home Delivery service to less than five days per week, the company would have the option to convert all remaining Home Delivery operations to dealerships. In either of those scenarios, the same proposed severance package would be made available to all District Advisers, Assistant District Advisers, District Managers, or Zone Clerks laid off as a result.

Obviously this is a complicated proposal and its many different elements will need careful discussion and review. We have tried to be as clear as possible with this bulletin, but there are almost certainly more questions to be answered. Please use the contacts listed below to send them.

Present for the Guild: Ralph Erickson, Karl Neice, Phil Kearney, Darryl Sclater, Darren Carroll.

Present for the Times: Mike Shepard, Martin Hammond, Valerie Inforzato, Leon Espinoza, Mike Sheehan, Rob Petersen.

The Guild's next meeting with the company will be Tuesday, April 30.

To submit a question or comment, please email Administrative Officer Darryl Sclater at ao37082@gmail.com, call the Guild office at 206-328-1190, or contact one of the Guild bargaining committee members.

Posted on April 11, 2013 and filed under SEATTLE TIMES, BARGAINING.