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Thursday, June 09, 2011
Newspaper Guild: Star-Advertiser demands end to seniority system, 50% cut in sick leave
By News Release @ 1:01 PM :: 5717 Views :: Maui County, Education K-12, Energy, Environment

BARGAINING BULLETIN: Honolulu negotiators narrow remaining issues--Next talks set for June 22-23

27 May 2011 Media Workers Guild

Your bargaining committee met with representatives of management for collective bargaining talks on May 24 and May 25. Darren Carroll, of TNG-CWA, was our chief negotiator. Ron Leong, an attorney, was management’s lead negotiator.

The committee and management agreed, in an effort to expedite negotiations and move toward a settlement, to identify priorities and narrow the field of issues.

Here are summaries of some of each side’s major proposals and responses:

MANAGEMENT

• Seniority: All relevant factors, including merit, performance, experience, knowledge, attendance record, competency and employment history with the company, would determine the selection for layoff or recall. If there are no material differences between workers as determined by management, then seniority would apply.

Guild response: Base layoff or recall on the existing seniority system. The guild is open to a discussion of how to integrate former Advertiser workers who were hired on the same day into the seniority system.

• Holidays: Reduce the number of paid holidays to seven, down from 10. The holidays would be New Year’s Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and three personal holidays.

Guild response: The issue of holidays should be examined in the context of all management proposals related to wages and paid time off.

• Overtime: Work performed in excess of 40 hours a week would constitute overtime. Eliminate the practice of providing overtime for work in excess of eight hours a day.

Guild response: Mutually agreed upon arrangements between workers and management for compensating time off for overtime could be discussed.

• Vacation: Change the vacation table to two weeks for workers with six years or less of experience; three weeks for workers with more than six years but less than 15 years of experience; and four weeks for workers with more than 15 years of experience. Eliminate the fifth week of vacation for workers with more than 24 years of experience.

Vacation days would be accrued over a year and taken the following year, after a transition plan to convert from the existing practice, where vacation days are awarded at the start of the year and taken in the same year.

Guild response: The issue of vacation should be examined in the context of all management proposals related to wages and paid time off. More information is also needed about the transition from a “front-loaded” to a “back-loaded” accrual system.

• Sick leave: Reduce the maximum weeks of benefits at full pay per benefit year to two weeks, down from four weeks. Reduce the amount of unused sick leave workers can carry over from year-to-year to five weeks, down from 12 weeks.

Require a one-day waiting period for illnesses. (The existing practice does not call for a waiting period on a worker’s first four illnesses in a year.)

Guild response: The issue of sick leave should be examined in the context of all management proposals related to wages and paid time off. Any changes to the existing system will be contingent on an agreement to grant pro rata sick leave to part-time workers.

• Medical: Provide 100 percent coverage for medical and dental monthly premium costs for workers -- up from 90 percent on medical –- but require workers on two-person or family plans to cover 50 percent of the two-person or family plan portion of premiums.

Prohibit dual or duplicate coverage with other companies.

Guild response: Any agreement that would allow management to assess a higher percentage of medical premium costs on workers will be contingent on, among other things, an acceptable wage package and the addition of a flexible spending plan for pre-tax payment of premiums and other medical costs.

Open to a discussion of management’s concerns with dual or duplicate coverage.

Pay raises: Provide raises of 1%, 1.5%, 1.5%, 1.5%, and 2% -- or 7.5% total -- over a five-year contract. Provide a one-time $350 bonus for former Star-Bulletin workers hired and working before the merger.

Guild response: Pay raises of 4%, 3%, 3%, 4%, and 5% -- or 19% total – over five years. Add a fifth and sixth year step -- $50 each step, $100 total – for editorial clerks.

GUILD

• Seniority: No layoffs for two years. Require that management provide at least four weeks of advance notice before a layoff, show economic justification, offer voluntary buyouts, and reduce the number of layoffs for each voluntary buyout.

Management response: A successful business plan requires the tools and flexibility over staffing to address unknown and unexpected circumstances.

• Online: Workers regularly expected to produce digital content for the website, including breaking news, blogging, social media and video, shall receive a premium of not less than 2% of weekly pay. The premium may be set at a higher rate by mutual agreement between workers and their supervisors where production expectations or special skills warrant.

Management response: Open to discussion in the context of all economic proposals.

• Automobile allowance: Management shall pay a parking allowance of $100 a month to workers required to use their personal vehicles for business purposes, or, in the alternative, shall secure a comparable parking discount at a facility near the main office.

Management response: Open to discussion in the context of all economic proposals.

• Sick leave: Expand the sick leave benefit to include part-time workers on a pro rata basis of average weekly hours in the preceding year.

Management response: Open to discussion in the context of all economic proposals.

• Training: Workers assigned to perform any work using multi-media skills, including but not limited to video and audio recording, and social media content, shall be provided adequate training in such skills at management expense and on management time. No worker not originally hired to perform such work shall be disciplined for performance issues related to such work.

Management response: More information is needed on exactly which functions would be covered in training. Open to discussion in the context of all economic proposals.

NEXT STEP

The next round of collective bargaining talks is scheduled for June 22 and June 23.

FEEDBACK

All guild members are encouraged to provide feedback to the bargaining committee or guild stewards and officers before the next negotiating sessions.

Full copies of the management and guild proposals are available through the bargaining committee or guild officers.

Your bargaining committee is Heather Ahue, Derrick DePledge, Rob Shikina, Gene Park, Sjarif Goldstein, Gary Chun, Cynthia Oi, and Jenny Delos Santos.

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