Friday, May 29, 2009

East Bay deal: Starting pay $39,000 a year

Newly hired copy editors, reporters, photographes and "Internet content providers" would start at $18.75/hour or $39,000 a year (assuming a 2080-hour year), under a proposed contract reached by Guild leaders and MediaNews. The contract goes to a vote of members on Tuesday. The contract will apply to about 180 employees of the Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune, San Mateo County Times and other East Bay-Bay Area News Group papers. Here's a link to the union's summary of the contract.

Highlights:
    • “We didn’t get everything we wanted, but we think this proposal is a strong starting point to build our future relationship with the company,” said Sara Steffens, unit chair of the East Bay Guild unit. “There are some things in this contract that nobody’s had before at BANG-East Bay.”

    • PAY: Minimum hourly pay of $18.75 for journalists (including reporters, photographers, copy editors and internet content providers) and $15.20 for editorial assistants and other support staff, effective six months after ratification.

    • GUILD MEMBERSHIP: Bargaining Unit members may choose to join the Guild or not, and can decide whether to pay dues through payroll deduction.

    • LAYOFF: Management can layoff Guild Unit members because of economic reasons, and has latitude to consider factors including work record, qualifications, ability to do remaining work and length of service. Laid-off workers go on a rehire list for six months.

    • HEALTH BENEFITS: Union and management representatives are pursuing the possibility of adding BANG-East Bay Unit members to the same Guild-run health system that provides affordable, high-quality coverage for San Francisco Chronicle staff. Current health benefits remain unchanged.

    • BYLINES: An employee can withhold his or her byline/credit line for journalistic reasons.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Does the contract call for ALL new hires, regardless of experience, to receive $39k per year? Or is that just a minimum number? 10 years ago the starting salary for recent college graduates on the ANG copy desk was about $26k per year, and some reporters earned less than that.

George said...

One thing Sara left out -- no surprise -- is that the union agreed to some things that are actually *worse* than what is in the employee handbook.

Among them: The union agreed to open-ended payments, without limit, as part of the contract.

A company official says that "this is a great contract for MediaNews Group." The company also is reportedly eager for this to go into effect.

Also notice that the vote will occur within just a few days of the tentative agreement.

Why the rush to get this enacted, if it's such a great deal for the company? Why is the union so eager to get a vote on this?

The answer is simple. Union bosses like Carl T. Hall fear that people will become furious when they see how the union rolled over and played dead for MediaNews Group.

If pay cuts are necessary, why did the union at least not demand the same kind of limit on the pay cuts that the union extracted from the exact same company -- a 7 percent limit.

Good lap dog! Play dead! Heel!

Also, Peninsula Press Club shows a remarkable lack of curiosity about the pay cuts in the East Bay.

Did they think the East Bay would escape the pay cuts?

Didn't you think it was a bit odd that Sara made no mention of the pay cuts? Or the pay cut language? Which is more onerous than the pay cut language in San Jose.

Did you ever find out the real reason why some people left their union leadership posts in the East Bay? And I'm not talking about Sara, to make your detective work a bit easier.

-George

Anonymous said...

Under this contract, there are no pay cuts. That may come later, but the contract would have to be reopened.

George said...

Anon said
*****
Under this contract, there are no pay cuts. That may come later, but the contract would have to be reopened.
*****


Then why did the union agree to potential pay cuts with no cap?

Anon seeks to posit the fantasy that the coming pay cuts, the open-ended, non-capped pay cuts, would only occur in a distant time frame.

In reality, they are coming at the end of the 3rd calendar quarter -- a mere 4 months from now.

Here's the language, right from the Guild's tentative agreement

*****
Section 17.5. The Guild recognizes that the Company may propose wage reductions in order [sic] reduce costs during the term of this agreement. In the event the Company
announces a general wage reduction program, the Guild agrees to enter into a wage reopener for the sole purpose of negotiating the wage minimum and other wage-related
items under the following conditions:

1. Terms of such pay reduction program, including pay reductions for nonrepresented employees, shall be communicated to the Guild, along with the
aggregate amount of cost savings the Company seeks to achieve through any bargaining unit pay adjustments.

2. The Guild reserves the right to propose alternative means of achieving the aggregate amount of cost savings sought by the Company in bargaining unit pay
reductions.

3. In the event the parties cannot reach an agreement within two (2) weeks, the Company shall reserve the right to implement a pay reduction under the same terms
as were applied to non-represented employees.

4. No such pay reduction for the Guild bargaining unit may be implemented before
the first pay period beginning after Sept. 30, 2009.
*****

Please note there is no pay cut cap, which is included in the San Jose workers contract.

And also note that if a deal is not reached in two weeks, then the company has the right to impose any pay cuts that it wishes. So all the company need do is have a two-week impasse on this one issue, and it has a free hand.

Again, I must ask: Why did the union cave in and not insist on a cap on the pay cuts?

Anon can go ahead and pretend that no pay cuts are in the contract. But Anon must concede that potential is there and can materialize in less than four months.

Why did the Guild leave the door ajar -- actually the Guild blew the door off the hinges -- for open-ended pay cuts?

What justification did the uniion bosses have for language that is worse than the employee handbook? Sara? Carl? Any other union bosses?

-George

Anonymous said...

George, the contract speaks for itself. There are no pay cuts in it. The best argument you can make is that there is the *potential* for cuts after October.

George said...

Not "after" October. Starting as soon as October 1, 2009. Not after October.

And also, Anon, the contract does speak for itself. It speaks volumes as to how the Guild caved into management -- as predicted.

I still see no explanation from Carl T. Hall or Sara Steffens about why the Guild agreed to open-ended pay cuts as soon as Oct. 1 -- when the San Jose union at least ensured an upper limit on pay cuts of 9 percent.

So far, neither you nor anyone else has been able to explain why the non-cap approach was so much better for East Bay workers.

While San Jose workers at least know the maximum damage being done to their paychecks, East Bay workers, thanks to the Guild, are left to twist the wind. East Bay employees are being forced to wonder what level of pay cuts they will suffer.

Here's the truth: No one has provided a rationale because the explanation would illuminate the reality that the Guild is an invertebrate.

Now we're hearing from the apologists for the union.

All the union cares about is getting dues-paying members to sign up. The union bosses have what they wanted, a contract at any cost.

And the company, which should be expected, also has its own agenda. BANG-EB has what it wants: a contract on its own terms and a union that is a lap dog. (several company executives have described this as "a great contract for the company."

What about the employees? What do they get?

Among other things, they get a summer to ponder the prospect of open-ended pay cuts that the company can impose as soon as 14 days pass without an agreement, if the contract is re-opened.

It was the union skeptics who wanted what was best for the employees.

We did not have an agenda, other than what we believed was best for the employees: a union-free relationship with management.

Now, we have Sara Steffens saying "this was the best we could do," or words to that effect. Of course, the best the Guild could do was simply capitulate to management. That's pretty much all the Guild ever does.

It's all fallen into place as anticipated, and as we warned.

-George

Anonymous said...

Anyone who thinks there won't be pay cuts has their head in the sand. Management knows they can put off the cuts for four more months and let the guild brag how they got a contract without pay cuts. But in four months, management will have the upper hand again, can institute whatever cuts they want and the guild will be powerless to stop it. Oh sure, they will "negotiate" for two weeks, but when that time is up, the guild will have NO say over it. Watching management negotiate with the guild is like watching Tiger Woods play Charles Barkley in golf. One is a fierce competitor who knows what he's doing and will win at any cost. The other should sell his clubs and go do something else. It's just not a fair fight.

Anonymous said...

I'll bet they don't cut pay in October but cut staff. I wouldn't be surprised if most of the MediaNews dailies in the Bay Area are consolidated into one product, which would mean massive layoffs. Just a prediction, but the consolidated copy desk is certainly evidence of such a move.

Anonymous said...

Anybody know how you go about decertifying a union?

George said...

what Sara Steffens said is "in quotes"
what she really meant to say is **in stars**

“This is a really happy conclusion"
**for management. This was**

"a long struggle"
**designed to create the farce that the union supported the employees, but what the union really wanted was to get more people paying dues**


"on the part of a lot of people"
**specifically the union bosses who lied about their true intentions until they could get a contract at any cost**

said Sara Steffens
**who is a colleage of Carl T. Hall, a union boss who works for the Newspaper Guild, which filed a vindictive, vengeful, spiteful grievance that, had it been successful, would have rescinded pay raises for hard-working employees who were anti-union**

"It's clear that our union's here to stay"
**and be a faithful lapdog for management**

"We want to continue building a new relationship with the company."

**because surely there must be more issues on which we can capitulate in our role of supine enablers.**

That's what Sara really meant to say, reading between the lines.

-George