UMG to hold Local, then Post-Dispatch unit meeting Dec. 12

Nov 27, 2018 by

The United Media Guild will hold a Local Meeting, then a St. Louis Post-Dispatch unit meeting Wednesday, Dec. 12, at its offices in St. Louis 1015 Locust Street, Suite 735.

At the Local Meeting at 5:30 p.m., we will seek delegate nominations for the NewsGuild Sector Conference Jan. 25-27 in Orlando, Fla., and the CWA Convention July 29-31 in Las Vegas. Nominations can also be e-mailed to business representative Shannon Duffy at sduffy@unitedmediaguild.org.

The UMG can send up to four delegates to the sector conference. We expect to have two delegates to the CWA convention. To be eligible for the CWA Convention, a delegate must first attend the sector conference.

If we end up with more nominees than we have spots for, we will hold a Local-wide election by mail. The top two vote-getters will be delegates to both the Sector Conference and the CWA Convention.

At the P-D unit meeting, we will seek nominations for unit chair (currently Joe Holleman) and three at-large seats on our Executive Committee. Beth O’Malley and Denise Hollinshed currently hold at-large spots and one seat is vacant.

Nominations can also be e-mailed to Duffy at sduffy@unitedmediaguild.org.

If we have multiple nominees for unit chair or more nominees for at-large spots on the executive committee, we will hold an in-person vote at the unit meeting.

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Post-Dispatch members ratify new agreement

Nov 16, 2018 by

By a tally of 78-4, Post-Dispatch members ratified a new three-year agreement which will run through September 30, 2021.  The new agreement calls for 2% wage increases in the first and third years, free parking (which had suddenly become important when the paper sold the building) and increased seniority protections (fewer exemptions are now allowed in each department when layoffs occur).  There is also a proviso for our sales representatives to receive $100 if they are not given their period goals before the start of the actual period.  The agreement increased the percentage of premium share for Guild members from 30% to 35% and it also increased the probationary period for new hires from nine months to one year.

While the wage increases are not large, after this contract our members will have received a 10% increase over six years and in an industry obsessed with declining advertising revenues and reducing labor costs, the election results convey the confidence of Post-Dispatch members that their bargaining team secured the best possible deal.

Negotiations took place over a two week period in St. Louis.  They were preceded by conversations in the workplace, meetings with individuals in every area and the distribution of surveys which were collected and tallied.  Thanks go out to all those who gave up their time to take part in this effort.   Special shout out to Joe Holleman, Post-Dispatch unit chair for shepherding the many moving parts.

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UMG extends voting at the Post-Dispatch

Nov 15, 2018 by

Due to the Thursday’s snowpocalypse that disrupted the lives of so many of our members, the United Media Guild will extend voting on the company’s contract offer to a second day.

Voting will begin as originally scheduled at 5 p.m. Thursday in Room 205 at the Post-Dispatch. Members unable to cast their vote at that time can do so between 9 a.m. and noon on Friday.

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UMG reaches tentative agreement at Post-Dispatch

Nov 9, 2018 by

The United Media Guild’s expedited bargaining with the Post-Dispatch produced a three-year contract proposal. We will vote on this Thursday, Nov. 15, at 5 p.m. in Room 205 at the Post-Dispatch.

Here are the basics of the proposal:

We Get

  • The company will provide free parking through the three-year contract.  Reserved parking would have cost our members $65 per month and open parking would have cost $55 per month.
  • The company can exempt no more than 15 percent of advertising department employees and 15 percent of editorial department employees from the seniority ranking for layoffs. This reduces the maximum number of “skips” from 16 to 10 in the newsroom and from 16 to 6 in advertising. Previously the company could use all of its skips in one area or the other, as it did in the newsroom earlier this year.
  • The pay scale for hourly employees and the base pay for salespersons will increase 2 percent in January, 2019 and 2 percent in January, 2021. (There is no increase in 2020).
  • Any advertising sales employee who doesn’t receive goals by the first day of a commission period will receive $100.
  • The rest of our protections remain as are, including vacation allotment, holidays, sick days, personal days, severance, IRS rate mileage, cell phone reimbursement, daily overtime, company cars for photographers and the assorted pay differentials (filling in for supervisors, working in a higher classification, reporters working editing shifts.)

Company Gets

  • The probationary period for employees extended from nine months to 12 months.
  • Employees can be regularly assigned to perform job duties in another classification for the duration of the contract. But the employee won’t change classifications unless a transfer is mutually agreed upon. Previously an employee could return to the original classification after 12 months.
  • Medical insurance premium rates will remain flat for 2019, but the employee share of the premium will increase from 30 percent to 35 percent. This creates the following increases per pay period:

Individual high-deductible: $11.43.
Individual traditional: $13.82
Individual plus children high-deductible: $21.70
Individual plus spouse high-deductible: $22.81
Individual plus children traditional: $24.97
Individual plus spouse traditional: $27.48
Family high-deductible: $34.30
Family traditional: $38.42

Bottom line

This contract prevents paid parking, reduces the company’s ability to circumvent seniority during layoffs and gives most of our members more money. This contract, combined with the previous contract, would result in five 2-percent raises in six years.

We believe this offer addressed our main concerns. Given the state of the industry – with its year-to-year revenue losses and accompanying layoffs – we believe this is a decent offer. The company would have offered a bit more financially had we agreed to more seniority exemptions.

If this upcoming vote fails

Then we move to traditional long-form bargaining. That could drag on for a year or more with the company trying to pick off some of our other protections while the Guild rallies support with internal and external mobilizing. Or the company could try to race toward the “last, best and final” contract offer and the threat of a bargaining impasse. At our ratification meeting we can discuss all the possible ramifications of that.

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Springfield, Rockford units ratify first contracts with GateHouse

Oct 20, 2018 by

Our members at the State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill, and the Rockford Register Star unanimously ratified first contracts with GateHouse Media in separate votes this week.

The Springfield unit voted to join the Guild in 2012 and Rockford followed in 2013. Their years-long battle for a fair contract finally took a positive turn in 2017 when the United Media Guild presented a good-governance shareholder proposal to GateHouse Media’s parent company, New Media Investment Group.

That allowed the UMG to approach top investors in New Media Investment Group and detail our concerns about GateHouse’s asset-stripping management. Our proposal passed overwhelmingly and shareholders issued a vote of no-confidence to the New Media board.

That effort, combined with The NewsGuild’s planned corporate campaign against GateHouse — funded by a six-figure CWA Strategic Industry Fund grant — encouraged the company to embark on unprecedented global economic bargaining for all Guild-represented newspapers.

That resulted in an agreement featuring raises of 1 percent in 2018 and 1.75 percent in 2019. That ended a decade-long wage freeze at many GateHouse papers, including the UMG-represented Peoria Journal Star and Pekin Daily Times.

In addition to those raises, the company froze health care premiums for both years and plan designs were frozen for ’18.

Bargaining continued for full collective bargaining agreements and resulted contracts that included a $500 signing bonus, seven additional days off for 2019 and the ability to reopen negotiations to address pay and health care premiums for 2020.

The UMG thanks Springfield unit chair Dean Olsen for his diligence throughout this challenging process. And we thank former Rockford unit chairs Melissa Westphal and Max Gersh along with current unit chair Kristen Zambo for never giving up on this contract quest.

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Retiree Luncheon to be held Nov. 1

Oct 8, 2018 by

The United Media Guild will hold its annual retiree luncheon at noon on Thursday, Nov. 1, at Lombardo’s Trattoria at 201 South 20th Street in downtown St. Louis. The restaurant is located inside the Drury Inn Union Station and it offers free parking in the garage behind the hotel.

The luncheon is free and open to all UMG retiree members. Please RSVP by email to UMG office manager Rachel Zaron at rzaron@unitedmediaguild.org. Or you can leave a message at 314-241-7046.

We look forward to seeing so many of those members who helped build this local union and keep it strong over the years.

 

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New Officers Announced

Oct 8, 2018 by

This past Thursday, at noon and 6 pm, a nomination meeting for Local Officers was held at the Guild Office, located at 1015 Locust St.  Members could show up and nominate someone for local office or, if they preferred, they could call in their nomination(s).

 

The following members were nominated:

For president – Jeff Gordon

For first vice president – David Carson

For second vice president – Joe Kenny

For recording secretary – Doug Moore

For treasurer – Letta Dansberry

 

There were no other nominations and, with no contested positions, there is no need for an election and those nominated will take office in January.

Treasurer John Muse had retired from his Post-Dispatch job mid-term and the Executive Committee will say a fond farewell to John at the end of this year.  John has served the Guild faithfully in a variety of positions over the years and we will miss his wise counsel and his passion for justice.  Taking John’s place as treasurer will be Letta Dansberry, a Post-Dispatch member from the sixth floor.  Like John, Letta has been an active member her entire time in our union.  In fact, this is not her first position on the EC; Letta previously served on the Guild Executive Committee in 2005.  Welcome back, Letta!

Nominations and election for all other EC positions will occur at soon-to-be-announced bargaining unit meetings (while Local Officers are elected by the full membership, Unit Chairs and delegates are elected by only those respective bargaining units).  All new unit positions will take effect in January as well.

All Local EC positions run for three years.

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KSDK-TV ratifies new three-year agreement

Oct 7, 2018 by

On September 28, at a noon bargaining unit meeting in conference room two at the KSDK Television Station, KSDK-TV Guild membership unanimously ratified a new three year agreement.  As previously reported, there are few changes in the agreement.  It includes a signing bonus and one additional holiday.

Our KSDK-TV bargaining unit is a small one and quite eclectic (we’re there because, once upon a time, Pulitzer owned them).  It is sometimes difficult to wrap one’s arms around the various areas we represent and I would like to commend KSDK-TV Unit Chair Phil Evans for his fine work at the bargaining table.

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