Monday, February 2, 2009

Guild, company reach agreement on furloughs

Guild members won protection in the event of layoffs during upcoming work furloughs and a pledge from management that all union-protected copy editors and page designers will be offered transfer to MediaNews offices in the San Gabriel Valley.

At a meeting Monday, the Guild agreed to accept five days of unpaid leave per bargaining-unit employee by March 31, 2009. Guild representatives proposed — and the company agreed — that in the event any unit member is laid off during that period, the company will pay the employee for time lost during the furlough.

"Nobody likes not to get paid for a week, but the language providing for restoration of that money, should a Guild member be laid off, at the very least, should discourage the company from making ill-advised layoffs during that period of time," said Web developer Steven Rosenberg. "Bottom line: our goal is to do everything we can to preserve the jobs of our members."

Per agreement with the company, Guild members may volunteer to take on additional furlough days to lesson the impact on fellow members already struggling to make ends meet and for whom the reduction in pay would prove to be an extreme hardship. Some members do not make enough money to live on their own and furlough days will no doubt create further distress. Additional furlough days on behalf of co-workers are subject to approval.

Upon finalization of the agreement, which will likely be as early as Tuesday, bargaining unit members can begin to select their preferred days off on the upcoming weekly schedules. To ensure there is no workplace intimidation, Guild stewards may be present during employee negotiation of furlough days

Vacation time and 401(k) contributions will continue to accrue for Guild members during furlough days.

The Guild made another significant gain Monday afternoon in ensuring that any member whose work will be moved to the San Gabriel Valley, including but not limited to copy editors and page designers, will be offered a transfer to the new site.

"Anybody who is impacted, who is working here, whose work may go to San Gabriel, will be offered the opportunity to transfer," said Media News Senior Vice President Jim Janiga during Monday's negotiations.

Janiga noted that Page One designers may remain on site in Woodland Hills, though it remains unclear who that person or persons is.

"It was reassuring to hear from Janiga that all people impacted by the consolidation will be offered the opportunity to transfer," said Andrea Hescheles, a page designer/copy editor.

The Guild also presented its second contract proposal to MediaNews Group representatives. The company withdrew its initial proposals to eliminate night-differential pay, possible reduction in the number of holidays and, furlough language that would have provided for month-long furloughs. Additionally, tentative agreements were reached on union steward leave of absence for Guild activities and a twenty-four month term for the new contract.

Daily News stewards Andrea Hescheles, Steven Rosenberg, George Sanchez and Chris Wiley were present along with CWA 9400/SCMG Vice President Vicki Di Paolo.

MediaNews was represented by Jim Janiga while Teresa Saplad took notes for company officials.

1 comment:

  1. u have a helluva fight ahead, but it's always more effective standing together rather than going it alone...especially against a ruthless, penny-thirsty corporation like MediaNews