BARGAINING BULLETIN March 3, 2009
The Fresno Bee bargaining committee met Tuesday morning with Fresno Bee management to be briefed on layoff plans and a company proposal for fewer layoffs combined with pay cuts and other measures outlined below.
Basically, we have two options:
1. Layoff of 21 full-time and five part-time employees in the bargaining unit. Under our contract, the company can do this without our consent.
2. Layoff of 16 full-time and five part-time employees in the bargaining unit, plus all of the following. This option requires approval by our membership:
a. Pay cuts, effective April 13, 2009:
Base salary under $35,000 – 0%
$35,000-$59,999 – 4%
$60,000-$89,999 – 6%
b. Furloughs: Publisher has the right to implement a one-week furlough for full-time employees in the second half of 2009 under the same conditions as non-bargaining unit employees on 30 days notice to the Guild. (Certain production department employees are excluded.) We were told furloughs were less likely here than in Sacramento and Modesto.
c. Vacation accrual: Effective July 1, 2009, vacation accrual is capped at one week more than the employee’s annual allotment. Currently the cap is 1.5 times the annual allotment. May be extended by mutual agreement between employee and publisher.
d. COBRA: Under the federal stimulus program, employees on layoff and eligible dependents covered under the group health, dental, vision and EAP plans will be eligible for a government subsidy requiring them to pay only 35% of premiums for up to nine months (compared to 20% for three months maximum under current contract).
e. Buyouts: At its discretion, the publisher will accept applicants for buyouts in lieu of layoffs if the rest of the alternative package is accepted.
f. Extra severance Those bought out or laid off will have the option of receiving an extra week’s severance pay in return for releasing the company from all future claims and giving up their right to go on the rehire list.
Under our contract, we get 30 days notice (or pay in lieu) for any layoffs. We have not yet been told whether the company’s plan also will require a 60-day notice under the WARN Act. (The 30 days notice would be included in the 60-day notice.)
The bargaining committee will be presenting this offer to members in good standing for their vote without a recommendation. There will be a parking lot meeting Wednesday at noon. If you cannot attend, bring your questions to any of us and we will get you answers. The vote will be Tuesday, March 10, from noon to 4 p.m. in the third floor auditorium. If you cannot make that time, please contact one of us and we will help you make other arrangements. If you are not eligible to vote, you can still come by during that time and ask questions.
Representing the company were attorney Bob Ford and HR director Laura Janigian. Representing the Guild were local reps Linda Frediani and Wendy Mejia, as well as reporters Sandy Nax (unit chair), Tracy Correa (vice chair) and Russell Clemings (secretary).