Thursday, August 13, 2009

New Contract at WPIX For Newspaper Guild

4-Year Agreement Reached Despite Tribune Bankruptcy

Newspaper Guild Members at WPIX last week ratified a new four-year pact with the Tribune Co.-owned television station that provides a 1 percent lump sum payment in January 2010, and 2 percent wage increases on January 1, 2011 and January 1, 2012.

With Tribune Co. in bankruptcy, WPIX management came to the bargaining table seeking concessions. But the Guild was still able to achieve some improvements in the new agreement, which runs through December 31, 2012, while beating back the company’s giveback demands.

Benefit improvements include the introduction of CWA-sponsored health care and short-term disability plans. The new plans take effect January 1, 2010 and provide better benefits than the current company-sponsored plans. The new health care plan will reduce co-pays, deductibles and out-of pocket maximums, saving members money when they need medical services. The new short-term disability plan ensures that members who are unable to work because they are sick or incapacitated receive 60 to 75 percent of regular pay for up to 26 weeks. Nonunion employees get just 40 percent of regular pay.

“Adopting these plans gives the union more control of our members’ benefits,” said New York Guild Representative Anthony Napoli, who led bargaining for the Guild. “The company won’t have the ability to unilaterally slash benefits or increase our members’ out-of-pocket expenses to cut costs.”

The Guild was also able to reduce trial periods to three months for both new and promoted employees. Funeral leave was improved with the addition of domestic partners to the list of “immediate family” for whose death employees are entitled to paid leave.

Bill O’Meara, president of the New York Guild, said “Given today’s economic climate and the additional challenges of negotiating with a company in bankruptcy, I am especially pleased we were able to avoid concessions and achieve improvements that will provide better benefits and save our members money during these trying times.”

New Three-Year Contract Ratified
At New York Times Digital

Guild members at the New York Times Digital unit have voted overwhelmingly to approve a new three-year contract. The final vote was 63 in favor of the settlement and four against, with no abstentions. The new contract includes significant wage increases and/or bonuses for 2008 and will achieve weekly pay parity with the newspaper beginning March 31, 2009. Highlights of the agreement are:

· Three Year contract running March 31, 2008 through March 30, 2011

· Wage increases retroactive to March 31, 2008 and salary hikes in 2009 & 2010

· For the first time, night and lobster differentials will be paid to Guild employees who are assigned to those shifts

· Pay for time worked in a higher job classification

· 8i training program for Web Producer, Web Designer and Video Journalist job categories

· Creation of Group O level positions

· Employees will be eligible to participate in the Time’s Distinguished Journalism Program

New York Guild President Bill O’Meara said, “Given the current economic environment and the challenges the media industry is facing we are pleased the Times has made a commitment to invest in the future of the website.” The Guild bargaining committee, led by O’Meara, included Local Representative Anthony Napoli, Unit Chair Erik Piepenburg, First Vice Chair Sarah Graham, Unit Members Matt Orr and Caryn Tutino.

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