The conversation during my visit with San Francisco members turned for a time to what we might expect in the next contract negotiations.
No one knows for sure until we see the proposals put forth by both sides, of course. And leadership changes are likely to influence what we see.
One of the differences between being a part of the Guild and just going along with the contract that governs our workplace is that members get input on what our team brings to the table. Prior to the start of negotiations, each member receives a “bargaining priorities survey” in the mail.
It’s our chance to raise our concerns and present our ideas. Do you think we should have rules for when staffers are able to work from home? Would you like to see more training on social media or shooting and editing video? Are clearer guidelines for holiday scheduling something you think is important?
These are all issues I’ve heard discussed during my visits to buros in the past week, and I’m sure it’s only the start of the list that members will ask our negotiators to address. It’s not too early to start thinking about what concerns you the most.
As for what to expect, we can start by looking at history. Last time around, the company initially proposed raising our health care costs by 49 percent. That was dropped during the long and contentious bargaining process. But my fear is that the same or an even harsher proposal will be on the table next year.
The current contract expires Aug. 31, 2013, so it will be a while before we get any answers. But it’s important to remember that company negotiators said in the past they assume non-members support their proposals.
We should emphasize that point as we talk to our colleagues and encourage them to sign their cards and become a Guild member. It’s up to all of us to point out that membership makes a big difference when it’s time to talk.