United Media Guild members in The Southern Illinoisan newsroom unanimously approved its first collective bargaining agreement at the Carbondale-based newspaper owned by Lee Enterprises.
That bargaining unit achieved its top bargaining goal of gaining a layoff procedure substantially guided by seniority.
Like every other newspaper in the country, The Southern has suffered round after round of layoffs in the face of declining revenues. Under this agreement, the company can exempt up to 20 percent of the workforce from seniority consideration in a layoff.
Otherwise, the reductions will be guided by seniority. Previously the company cut a long-time journalist and kept a new hire — a move that inspired journalists there to organize.
Other highlights of the contract included:
- Just cause protection from arbitrary dismissal and a four-st
- ep progressive discipline system.
- Pay raises for all of our members with at least one year of service. The increase ranges from 2 percent to double digits.
- Frozen employee premium percentage share for company-provided health insurance for two years.
- A 4 cent increase in the mileage rate for employee reimbursement.
- A $10 monthly increase for cell phone reimbursement.
- Two additional paid holidays, one additional paid day off in the new PTO policy and one additional paid day off in the bereavement policy.
- Improved severance pay for lay-offs. Impacted members get a one-week paid notification plus severance ranging from a minimum of four weeks to a maximum of 26 weeks — based on the formula of one week of pay for each year worked.
- A 12-month rehire provision. That gives laid-off workers an opportunity to fill openings that occur within a year of their lay-off.
UMG members Shawn Anglin, Todd Hefferman and Marilyn Halstead bargained the contract with UMG business representative Shannon Duffy.