In the first contract negotiations since Dean Singleton’s MediaNews bought control of the Mercury News, The San Jose Newspaper Guild says management has proposed creating a two-tier pay scale, eliminating the paper’s pension plan, increasing health care costs and cutting other benefits and protections. The Guild’s online bulletin quotes MediaNews Group CEO Dean Singleton (pictured) as telling the Guild bargaining committee that prolonged negotiations “could lead to dramatic reductions in staff as you are seeing elsewhere” in the newspaper industry. The Guild, while not presenting a counter proposal, said it is seeking wage increases, improvements in retirement and preservation of current health care benefits. The Merc’s newsroom has gone from 404 people to 280 in the past few years.

The Guild is holding a membership meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, and the agenda includes approval of an initial contract proposal.

Here’s a link to the existing contract (which expired June 30) and Singleton’s initial proposal. Singleton’s proposal (at least the version posted on the Guild’s Web site) didn’t include any salary proposals. Under “Article V — Minimum Salaries” it says “proposal on revised wage scales forthcoming.” Current Mercury News salary information is missing from the Guild’s Web site.

[PPC, June 4: A former union negotiator at Singleton’s ANG newspaper describes a 12-year effort to obtain a new contract at those newspapers]

SF Press Club News

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