California Media Workers Guild
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Wendy Mejia 916-716-2783, Ed Fletcher 916-524-0775
Sacramento Bee newsroom and advertising employees voted Friday to accept a 6 percent wage cut for most employees, in addition to other cost cutting concessions.
The vote, ratifying the company’s contract proposal, saves 19 jobs that Bee managers had threatened to otherwise add to the guild-covered 34 jobs already slated for elimination. But it means all Guild-represented employees must accept pay cuts starting in April, potential furloughs in the second half of 2009, and a cap on vacation accrual.
The contract was approved with the support of 65 percent of the voting members.
“This was one of those plug your nose kind of votes,” said Ed Fletcher, the Sacramento unit chair for the California Media Workers Guild, which represents 268 of The Bee’s 1,126 full- and part-time workers.
“On one hand, our members are committed to saving jobs, protecting the long-term interests of The Bee, and fostering good journalism. But on the other hand, many employees grew frustrated the company wouldn’t listen to our cost-cutting measures that inflected less pain on employees.”
“Why force people out the door when the workforce could be reduced through voluntary buyouts?” Fletcher asked.
The Guild also had hoped to negotiate an agreement with the company that there would be no further layoffs through the end of the year. Without that agreement, members are literally sticking their neck out to save the jobs of others and getting no assurance theirs won’t be next on the chopping block.
“In the end, employees recognized we were between a rock and a larger rock. We chose the less sharp rock,” Fletcher said.
Without the pay cuts, 53 newsroom and advertising employees would have been laid off, further damaging our news operation at a critical time for our industry.
The Modesto Bee Guild votes Monday, and the Fresno Bee Guild votes Tuesday.
For a comprehensive list of McClatchy layoffs, click here.