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.