Company Brings Economic Proposal -- Seattle Times Bargaining Bulletin #11

Your Guild bargaining team met with the company yesterday and today. The most significant development of today’s session was a first look at the company’s core economic proposal. The company’s proposal would involve a three-year contract running from February 1, 2013 through January 31, 2016. There would be no wage increases during the first two years of the contract.

However, effective February 1, 2014 (approximately ten months from now), each Guild employee would receive a one-time lump-sum bonus payment equal to one percent of his or her straight-time pay for the previous year.

After that, effective February 1, 2015, the company would increase total straight-time wages in the Guild unit by an overall average of one percent. However, the one-percent increase in total wages would not be distributed evenly among all employees. It would be in the form of a budget pool for merit pay increases, to be individually calculated and distributed entirely at the company’s discretion. Consequently, any individual employee might receive a wage increase of more than one percent, less than one percent, or zero.

The company made its economic proposal contingent on acceptance by the Guild of all other company proposals currently on the table. These include proposals to allow unaffiliated online staff to perform traditional Guild newsroom work creating and contributing to the print edition of the paper (up to a maximum of fifteen percent of the total work) and the creation of a “Sports Silo” for newsroom job classifications and seniority. In Sales and Marketing, they include proposals to allow unaffiliated online sales staff to sell print advertising (up to a maximum of fifteen percent of total print ad dollars), assumption by the company of complete control over all advertising incentive plans (and the ability to increase, reduce, or eliminate them at will), the elimination of all set rates for commission-only sales, and the insertion into the contract of a “re-opener” agreement that would allow the company to revisit all terms of the contract relating to Sales and Marketing for re-bargaining and possible further change at a later date. The company is also sticking with its proposal to eliminate all set employer/employee splits for medical premiums, and to institute a strictly “me too” policy on the rates relative to unaffiliated staff.

On the plus side the company withdrew its proposal to introduce a new, lower rate for mileage expense compensation, and agreed to continue using the standard IRS mileage rate.

In another positive development, we received an encouraging response to our proposal on the Photographers’ Equipment Plan, in which the company indicated a willingness to pay out the remaining balance on any photographer’s existing equipment-reimbursement schedule, in the event the photographer is involuntarily laid off.

An additional qualification for the economic proposal was resolution of a plan to reduce costs in the Home Delivery department, possibly via some form of fully or partially outsourced dealership model. Based in part on feedback from the Guild side, the company team is revisiting their original proposal. We anticipate getting additional details in tomorrow’s session.

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

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 tomorrow Thursday, April 11.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, 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 10, 2013 and filed under SEATTLE TIMES, BARGAINING.