Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Workers ratify BANG-East Bay contract

Newsroom employees at the Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune and other MediaNews Group papers that are part of BANG-EB have ratified a contract that sets a minimum $18.75/hour ($39,000 a year) wage for reporters, copy editors, photographers and Internet content providers.

The contract will apply to about 180 employees.

The Guild's Web site said the vote was 57 in favor, 2 opposed, in ballots cast during ratification meetings held in Walnut Creek and in Oakland. The tally did not include absentee ballots, which were too few to have affected the outcome.

It is the first contract for Contra Costa Times employees, who previously were not unionized. Employees of the Oakland Tribune and other dailies that were part of MediaNews Group's Alameda Newspapers Group had a contract that was canceled last year when their bargaining unit was merged with the Times. The combined bargaining unit voted for union representation last year and the contract approved Tuesday is the first for the merged unit.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amazingly, you left out these items. The oversight was deliberate or the Peninsula Press Club displays a remarkable lack of curiosity.

Here's what the real news was associated with this contract:


1. The union caved in on the issue of open-ended pay cuts, starting as soon as October. In contrast, the San Jose workers obtained a 9 percent limit on their pay cuts. But there could be pay cuts of 10, 20, 30 percent, or pick a number, in the East Bay. This could happen by Oct. 1, 2009. And all that has to happen for management to undertake pay cuts to the amount they wish is to re-open the contract and not reach an agreement by 14 days later.

Don't believe me? Look at section 17.5 of the deal the union bosses cooked up to screw the employees.

2. The union bargained away the ability to earn personal days, which could become nearly an additional week of vacation over the course of a year. That is worse than what East Bay workers had been, since they could earn three personal days a year.

3. Job cuts are coming within weeks. This is from a company memo that was issued within hours of the contract being approved. The e-mail to employees says, in part:

"We could have some additional staff reductions over the summer. It's still early in the budgeting process, so the number of jobs that could be cut has yet to be determined. We will do our best to keep additional personnel reductions to a minimum."

One expects the union to give its own spin. It's unfortunate when Peninsula Press Club swallows that spin hook, line and sinker.

Please, we should all realize the following:

The company has its own agenda: survive, find profits, control expenses, create revenue and pay down debts.

The union has its own agenda: survive, create revenue by finding more people to pay dues.

But there was a better agenda than either of those: What was best for East Bay employees during tough times.

The only group that had that goal at the top of its agenda was the group that was skeptical about the union.

Those skeptical about the union predicted the union would turn out to be an inexperienced, bumbling group at the negotiating table. It was predicted the union would fail to produce a contract that was better than the existing employee handbook. It was predicted that the union was merely interested in a contract at any cost, and would agree to nearly any concession to achieve that contract.

Sadly, those forecasts were prescient.

Well, the union sowed the seeds of destruction for the East Bay newspapers. Now it's time for the whirlwind.