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.