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:
- 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.)
- 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
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.