Thursday, May 28, 2009

Guild deal at Merc calls for 9% pay cut

The Guild has reached a tentative agreement with the Mercury News which cuts pay by 9 percent over the next seven months, increases employee health insurance contributions, reduces vacation accural and allows the Merc to move its copy desk to Walnut Creek.

The Guild issued this statement today concerning the tentative contract:
    Here are some details of the new contract your bargaining committee negotiated with the company. As you know, it is a difficult period in the newspaper industry and the country. This contract settlement represents our best efforts at protecting workers, jobs and quality at the Mercury News. It is not something that we recommend lightly and we welcome questions at a ratification meeting to be held at 3:30 p.m. Monday, June 1 in the Mercury News Assembly Room. We are holding the ratification meeting at the Mercury News in order to accomodate members who cannot leave work to attend an off-site meeting on a weekday. There will be one hour for explanations, questions and comments, then members will vote by secret ballot on whether to ratify the agreement.

    Term: 18 months, expiring Nov. 30, 2010

    Pay: To be cut by 7 percent first payroll period after ratification, and an additional 2 percent effective first payroll period after January 1, 2010. Employees who aren’t at top scale will remain at their current step during Agreement.

    Furlough: Company can require up to five days of furlough in 2010.

    Differentials: To be eliminated effective March 1, 2010.

    Medical insurance: Current premium share to be maintained through Dec. 31; premium share to increase to management/non-union rate (now 30 percent for Blue Cross Core Plan) effective Jan. 1, 2010.

    Vacation: Each employee to lose one week of vacation accrual per year. New accrual rates: two weeks for employees with less than two years of service; three weeks for two to nine years of service; four weeks for more than nine years of service. No employee will lose more than one week of vacation as a result of the change in accrual.

    Commission only: Company has right to hire commission-only sales reps to develop new business.

    Circulation/finanance consolidation: Company can move remaining inside circulation jobs and finance work to Bay Area News Group Shared Services Center; Mercury News employees will receive preference for jobs created as a result, with no harm to pay (after 7 percent pay cut) through Jan. 1, 2010; thereafter, pay cannot be reduced below top quartile of pay at BANG for comparable positions. Employees who lose their jobs as a result of consolidation shall be eligible for up to eight weeks of supplemental severance beyond what is otherwise specified in the contract.

    Copy desk-design consolidation: Company can consolidate copy desk and design functions in Walnut Creek after Aug. 1, 2009; Mercury News employees receive hiring preference for jobs created as a result, with no harm to pay (after 7 percent pay cut) through Jan. 1, 2010; thereafter, pay cannot be reduced below top quartile of pay at BANG for comparable positions. Employees who lose their jobs as a result of consolidation shall be eligible for up to eight weeks of supplemental severance beyond what is otherwise specified in the contract.

    Advertising: Company can consolidate advertising functions at BANG-EB and San Jose; Guild cannot use consolidation as evidence that it has jurisdiction over non-union BANG-EB work; Company cannot withdraw recognition of Guild as bargaining representative for San Jose Mercury News advertising employees.

    Subcontracting: Company gains right to subcontract, but cannot assign certain work to anyone not covered by contract if it results in a layoff. Such work includes reporting in Santa Clara County. No outside ad sales representatives can be laid off as a result of subcontracting.

    Guild Negotiating Committee: Sylvia Ulloa, Rick Tulsky, Bill Russell, John Fensterwald, Darren Carroll, Carl Hall, Suzanne Arnaud
UPDATE: THURSDAY, 7 P.M.: The Snitch at SF Weekly says that a Merc reporter declared on his Facebook page that when the proposed contract came out, it was "The Day the Merc Died." Another reporter replied, "You mean the San Jose Bureau of BANG?"

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

these are radical changes that a few years ago would have been fought vigorously ... but today, the union passes them along to the membership with a wimpy shrug ...

does anybody realize how much the quality of the merc will decline by moving the copy desk 40 miles away from where the stories break? street names will be wrong, city names will be wrong, lots of silly mistakes that diminish the credibility of a publication ...

a couple years ago, medianews moved the copy desk of the san mateo county times to pleasanton ... a few days later, the times did a profile of a well known local official, mary griffin. the profile included a large front page photo ... for some reason the computers in pleasanton put merv griffin's photo where mary griffin's photo was supposed to go ... and it was a big picture, maybe a third of the front page ...

nobody in pleasanton noticed (or realized) that the computer pulled up the wrong photo ... the photo was slugged "griffin_m.jpg" ...

that's the kind of thing that will happen to the merc, over and over, until its circulation plunges like the san mateo county times ...

given the ability of eveyrbody else in silicon valley to telecommute, you wonder why the copy desk for the merc couldn't stay in san jose ...

maybe singleton is intentionally killing his newspapers?

Anonymous said...

Merv Griffin instead of Mary Griffin? I'll bet sales of that day's paper were up. Could this be the savior of the modern newspaper?

Anonymous said...

Singleton made the biggest mistake buy the East and So. Bay papers. All have gone to the dumps with the type of employees/contractors they use.