Nov. 10, 2013Pueblo Chieftain management explained that revenue continues to drop and expensive repairs to the press and mailroom equipment are needed, so they claim additional cuts in employee costs are needed.
The union bargaining committee acknowledged the revenue decline and repairs, but pointed out the company made a good profit in 2012 and are on pace to make a larger profit in 2013. The union argued that all employees shared in the sacrifices made over the last five years with pay cuts, furlough days and other reductions in take-home pay. Now that the paper is profitable again, all employees should share in that recovery.
The company and the union exchanged economic proposals.
- Remove Assistant City Editor from the bargaining unit.
- Eliminate furlough days, but cut all current wage scales by 5 percent, the equivalent of 12 furlough days.
- Decrease wages for all newsroom employees by an additional 5 percent, a total of 10 percent.
- Eliminate extra pay for copy editing and paginating.
- Create a new lower scale for new Reporters, Photographers, Artists and Webmasters. The proposed new start scale is $10.62 per hour, with the new top scale of $15 an hour, but taking 20 years to reach that amount.
- Eliminate night differential.
- Eliminate the one hour bonus paid when people are called back to work after their shift has ended.
- Delete the 401(k) plan.
- Reduce pay for holidays worked from double time to time and one-half pay.
- Increase the years of service needed to advance in annual vacation accrual from one year to three years of service for two weeks per year, three years to five years of service for three weeks per year and from 12 years to 15 years for four weeks per year.
- For new employees hired under the new contract, two weeks of vacation per year after five years of service and three weeks after 15 years of service.
- Require that all vacation must be used in the calendar year after it accrued or the time is forfeited.
- Reduce paid sick days to five per year for all employees.
- Increase the share of the monthly health insurance premium paid by employees from 5 percent for employee-only, 20 percent for employee plus spouse and employee plus children, and 35 percent for family to 40 percent for all enrollment levels.
- End the ability to accumulate the $150 per year vision care benefit for two years. The $150 must be used each year.
- Reduce the requirement to rehire laid-off employees when positions become available to giving those employees “every consideration.”
- Reduce mileage reimbursement from IRS rate (currently 56.5 cents per mile) to 25 cents per mile.
- Delete tuition reimbursement.
- Eliminate the provision maintaining the terms and conditions of the contract while negotiations are completed.
Effective Jan. 3, 2014:
- Restore wage scales to 2008 rates (6.5 percent increase)
- Eliminate furlough days.
- Restore 401(k) match and 1 percent contribution
- Effective April 6, 2015, if the Publisher’s 2014 operating profit was at least $200,000, increase all wage rates by 2 percent. If the Publisher’s operating profit was greater than $400,000, increase all wage rates by 4 percent.
- Effective April 5, 2016, if the Publisher’s 2015 operating profit was at least $200,000, increase all wage rates by 2 percent. If the Publisher’s operating profit was greater than $400,000, increase all wage rates by 4 percent.
The next bargaining sessions are Nov. 19 and 22.
The union’s bargaining team includes Marge Strescino, Nick Bonham, Jeff Letofsky, Gayle Perez and Tony Mulligan.
The company’s bargaining team includes Ray Stafford, Steve Henson, Martha Eller, Brianna Ferran, Phil Ruegg and Chad Orvis.
The current contract is available at denvernewspaperguild.org/resources/contracts.