Post-Dispatch unit ratifies contract extension

The Post-Dispatch unit of the United Media Guild approved a three-year contract extension by a 71-23 vote Tuesday afternoon at the newspaper’s downtown building.

The extension — the result of expedited bargaining earlier this month — will take effect immediately and run through Sept. 30, 2018.

The contract includes increases to the pay scale by:

2 percent on Dec. 27, 2015.
2 percent on Dec. 26, 2016.
2 percent on Dec. 25, 2017.

On Dec. 27, 2015, “commission only” sales reps will become “base plus commission” and receive $625 per week in base pay.

On that date, “base plus commission” sales reps will receive $575 per week in base pay will get an increase to $625 per week.

On that date, “base plus commission” sales reps will receive $673 per week in base pay will get an increase to $721 per week.

Severance pay for involuntary lay-offs will remain the same as in the current contract. That is a critical protection for our long-time members, especially those in areas already decimated by lay-offs.

Maximum severance for voluntary layoffs — those stepping up to save the jobs of others — will be capped at 39 weeks effective 9/28/2015. On 9/26.2016, the voluntary layoff pay will be capped at 26 weeks.

These changes reduces the incentive for long-time employees to step up and take lay-offs in place of shorter-term employees. But the group of employees eligible for up to 66 weeks of severance in the expiring contract has shrunk by one-third this summer.

Managers can exempt employees at the low end of our seniority list from lay-off. Effective 9/28/2015, the company can exempt from layoffs up to 20 employees in any department or classification regardless of seniority.

But that number can’t exceed 15 percent of the Guild membership as of Jan. 1 of the applicable calendar year. In any classification where an employee is exempted, employees in the top 25 percent in seniority in that classification (rounded up) shall by protected from layoff for the life of the exemption.

On Dec. 27, 2015, the employee share of medical premiums would increase from 25 to 30 percent. But the total medical premium will be frozen in 2016 and 2017.

The net result will be an increase in medical premiums through 2017 ranging from slightly more than $10 per pay period to slightly more than $40 per period depending on the medical plan.

Those increases could offset the raises in the first year of the contract for some members, depending on their plan. In the second year of the contract, premiums will remain the same so our members will realize the full impact of the raise.

In the third year of the contract, medical premiums could increase again.

The Post-Dispatch unit also voted overwhelmingly to maintain the current 401K language, which includes a flat monthly contribution of $75. Our members had the option of switching to the company plan for non-represented employees, which currently matches 40 percent of the first 5 percent of the employee contribution.

But the company would have retained the right to modify or eliminate that matching contribution at any point during this contract. UMG would have waived the right to negotiate or grieve changes to the 401K match.