Merc workers approve 9% wage cut

The Mercury News is reporting tonight that its unionized employees voted 127-39 to approve an 18-month contract that calls for pay cuts, higher medical insurance premiums and less vacation for its members. Pay will be reduced by 7 percent for the remainder of this year, and an additional 2 percent starting on Jan. 1, 2010. Employees also took a one-week unpaid furlough earlier this year. The company can require another five-day furlough in 2010. The contract also allows the newspaper

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No pay cuts in East Bay contract

The 44-page proposed contract between the Guild and EB-BANG has been posted online by the union. It says (on page 22) that the company can’t cut wages until October at the earliest, providing some measure of security for the 180 employees covered under the contract. Union members at the Mercury News, which like EB-BANG is a MediaNews operation, are voting Monday on a proposed contract that will reduce wages by 9 percent over the next seven months. The Merc’s pay

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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:

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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

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Guild ‘disappointed’ in BANG-EB talks

“[M]anagement bargainers showed little interest in moving the last steps toward a reasonable compromise on critical issues concerning economics and our ability to negotiate any changes in terms,” Guild negotiators said on their Web site after Wednesday’s negotiating session with MediaNews management. “… We are working through a federal mediator to bring the issues to a close very soon. In hopes of bridging these final gaps, the two sides have agreed to meet May 12.”

Guild reports ‘significant progress’ in East Bay

“We have not yet reached our goal of a comprehensive labor agreement, which will be subject to a ratification vote by our membership,” the Guild says in a bulletin to members. “But discussions between the BANG-EB bargaining committee and management resolved a number of critical areas, including severance, management rights, overtime provisions, flexible schedules and subcontracting.” No details were given. The Guild also says talks were scheduled to take place at the Mercury News on Monday (April 20) and Tuesday

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NLRB upholds newspaper layoffs

The Contra Costa Times reports that the National Labor Relations Board has dismissed the Guild’s complaint that three employees were wrongfully laid off because of their union activities. The Oakland office of the NLRB ruled in December that the company was within its rights to fire Sara Steffens, Rebecca Rosen Lum, and Geoff Lepper. Now the NRLB’s national office has upheld that decision and rejected arguments to the contrary from the union. Steffens, who had just been elected union chair

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Merc proposes 15% pay cuts for Guild members

MediaNews negotiators are proposing to reduce the salaries of Guild members by 15 percent under the collective bargaining agreement now being negotiated, according to the Guild. The following is from the Guild’s bargaining bulletin: The salary of veteran reporters, editors and advertising sales people earning the current scale of $1,279.51 a week would find their pay cut $383.86 every paycheck, issued every other week. The scale for experienced copy clerks, now at $598.53 a week, would be reduced $179.56 per

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Guild declines 401(k) freeze, seeks better exit pay

The Guild, in a bulletin to members, said it has “declined” MediaNews Group’s request that it freeze the company’s match on employees’ 401(k) plans. MediaNews is freezing the benefit for non-union workers here and in other parts of the country. “We declined this initial request, but asked for financial information detailing the need for their proposal and the potential savings. For now, the match will remain in place for BANG-EB bargaining unit members,” the bulletin said. The bulletin said the

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