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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Post-Dispatch unit meetings scheduled for Oct. 10

Oct 3, 2018 by

United Media Guild unit chair Joe Holleman and other local leaders will be available to meet with Post-Dispatch unit members twice on Oct. 10 to discuss contract bargaining.

The meetings will be held at noon and again after work at Missouri Bar and Grill on Tucker.

UMG leaders met with management of Lee Enterprises and the Post-Dispatch on Oct. 3 to discuss the potential for expedited bargaining to begin later this month. We shared our top negotiating priorities, as did the company.

Based those discussions we believe expedited bargaining is worth a try. This format keeps most of our protections in place and allows us to focus on a handful of issues.

Each side will only send a few negotiators to the table. But the UMG will form a larger bargaining committee to set goals, evaluate offers and generally guide the process. We are seeking volunteers from each work area to join this committee.

If the expedited process doesn’t yield an agreement that the larger membership ratifies, then the UMG will go to traditional long-form bargaining over the entire contract.

The most recent collective bargaining agreement at the Post-Dispatch expired at the end of September, but it remains in effect due to its evergreen clause. That keeps all of the protections in place while we continue to bargain.

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