On Thursday the company presented us with a first outline of their “continued employee model” plan for cost-savings in the Home Delivery department. The plan consisted of wage cuts, changes to incentives and goals, new district assignment arrangements, and a number of other changes. There was no breakdown of the specific cost-savings associated with the different elements of the plan. We will be reviewing these carefully before talking further with the company about the plan, or possible alternatives, at our next meeting. The company also continued to dangle their “Agency Option” as well, which would effectively involve outsourcing the entire Home Delivery department. Clearly, any move to substantially reduce costs in Home Delivery will have an enormous impact on Guild staff, as well as on the quality of service provided to the paper’s vital home-delivery subscribers. Of the 18 District Advisers currently working in Home Delivery, twelve have more than 30 years of service with the company. Of 24 Assistant District Advisers, half have more than 20 years of service, and none has less than 15. All four of the Zone Clerks in the department have more than 20 years of service. It is the Guild’s hope and expectation that any cost-savings plan will respect, honor, and reward the service and contribution to the company by these long-standing employees. Further, we are deeply concerned that it not endanger the Seattle Times’ long-standing relationships with its loyal but highly demanding subscribers, on whom we are all ever-increasingly dependent in the evolving world of newspaper economics.
Later in the session, we spent some time reviewing the numerous changes and additions the company is proposing to make to the list of “excluded positions” (specified non-Guild staff) attached to the front of contract. As in past contract negotiations, we noted that the volume of positions seemed excessive and redundant (“bloated” is another term that comes to mind). We anticipate counter-proposing a more modest and appropriate list.
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 is Tuesday, Mar. 5.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please email Administrative Officer Darryl Sclater at firstname.lastname@example.org, call the Guild office at 206-328-1190, or contact one of the Guild bargaining committee members.