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Newsroom Bargaining: Sessions 16 and 17 Result in Tentative Agreement

4 Sep

A TENTATIVE AGREEMENT on all outstanding bargaining issues was reached by Newsroom Guild and management representatives after sessions on August 21 and August 31.

Our next steps will be to craft specific language for this new contract. After that, we will share the proposed contract will all members and hold meetings to answer questions. Then we will vote.

What follows is a brief summary of our tentative agreement. It is not necessarily the language that will be in the contract, but is intended for explanation only.

TERM

  • Sept. 10, 2014 (same as the non-newsroom unit.)

PENSION PLAN

  • The local newsroom pension plan shall be frozen.
  • All benefit service credits for current participant accounts will be considered to be vested.
  • All Guild-covered employees shall receive two times the benefit for this year (2012). This has essentially the same effect as adding one additional year of benefits.
  • There are no changes to our second, much smaller plan, The Newspaper Guild International Pension Plan.

401(k)

  • The company match to the 401(k) will continue to be suspended indefinitely.

PERFORMANCE APPRAISALS

  • A performance-appraisal system will be created and instituted. This will involve giving each employee a preview performance appraisal to explain the system and what is to be expected from employees. Approximately six months later a first full performance appraisal will be done for each employee. After this, employees will have performance appraisals around the anniversary of their date of hire.
  • The Guild and management will work together to create, review and possibly modify the performance-appraisal process.

REDUCTION IN FORCE (SENIORITY)

  • For the period between contract ratification and the time when all employees who were on staff at the time of ratification have had their second full performance appraisal, our current language using seniority within job titles shall be used in the event of a layoff. The only exception will be for reporters and columnists. They will have the additional criteria of department. To better explain this, if we were to go through layoffs currently, and the company decided to cut reporters, they would have to start with the least-senior reporters, regardless of which department — Features, Sports, etc. — they work for. The proposed language would allow the company to specify which department they intend to trim by laying off reporters and columnists. Those reporters and columnists to be laid off would be the least-senior in the specified department.
  • After completion of the second full performance appraisal for all employees (on staff at the time of ratification), layoffs will be conducted using a point system. Points are determined as follows:
    • A maximum of 40 points for seniority. (Two points for each year of service within a job title.)
    • A maximum of 30 points for General Competencies based on an employee’s most recent performance appraisal.
    • A maximum of 30 points for Specific Skills Assessment based on an employee’s most recent performance appraisal.
  • After implementation, if performance appraisals are not completed according to the terms described above (the two bulleted items under PERFORMANCE APPRAISALS), any layoffs would be done using reverse-seniority by job title, except for reporters and columnists who will be considered by department and job title.
  • Employees affected by layoffs may still bump back to previously held guild-covered positions.

YOURHUB

  • Community Manager wage scale goes from $562 per week to $605 per week.
  • Community Journalist wage scale goes from $562 per week to $630 per week.
  • YourHub staff will be allowed to write stories for The Denver Post and will be paid at Denver Post reporter wage rate for such stories.
  • The memorandum of agreement concerning YourHub will be moved into the body of the contract.

NEW OR MODIFIED EQUIPMENT OR PROCESSES

  • The company shall provide The Guild three months’ notice, if possible, and no less than one months’ notice of intent to introduce new or modified equipment, machines, apparatus or processes that will create new job titles or alter the job content of existing job titles. This shortens the time frame for the company to implement changes in equipment or processes.

EQUIPMENT

  • The company will reimburse up to $50 per month for employees required by management to have a cell phone and up to $25 per month for employees required to transmit data from their cell phones.

HEALTH INSURANCE

  • No change from current contract. The premium share for all newsroom employees remains at 30 percent.

BEREAVEMENT LEAVE

  • Currently, employees can only take bereavement leave within seven days of a death. The proposed contract allows employees to take bereavement leave farther out than one week if they notify their supervisor within five business days of the death and work with their supervisor to schedule time off.

WAGES

  • Current wage scales will remain for the term of the contract. The sole exception is YourHub wage scales.

WORKING IN A HIGHER CLASS (HOURS OF WORK AND OVERTIME)

  • No changes to current contract. Employees must work for more than four hours in a higher wage classification (in any one shift of eight hours) to be paid at the higher wage rate for those hours working in the higher class.

FEATURES SECTION EDITORS

  • The job titles of Travel Editor, Fashion Editor, Book Editor and Assistant Features Editor will be replaced with title Section Editor. Section Editors will be paid at Classification 16 scale. The six employees who have been working as Section Editors will be reclassified as such.

UNION SHOP

  • As a condition of employment, all Guild-covered newsroom employees will be required to join The Guild and pay dues.

If you have questions that cannot wait until we hold Q and A sessions, contact any of the bargaining committee members.

Thomas McKay
Sara Burnett
Kieran Nicholson
Jim Ludvik
Kyle Wagner
Kevin Hamm
Tony Mulligan