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Guardian-US staff unanimously approves 1st contract

Guardian-US staff voted unanimously to approve their first contract, which includes pay raises, paternity leave of 10 weeks for a birth or adoption and employer payment of the full cost of health insurance for a worker.

The editorial employees working in New York, Washington and San Francisco approved the contract last week. They voted unanimously in July 2015 to have the News Media Guild as their bargaining agent.

“I commend The Guardian for reaching a fair contract with our members that embraces its values,” said Amanda Holpuch, a Guardian Guild-covered staffer and member of the bargaining team. “We are proud to have been backed by an engaged, energetic staff who supported the negotiation team.”

Under the proposed contract, wages will increase 1.5 percent on Jan. 1, 2018, 1.75 percent on Jan. 1, 2019 and 2 percent on Jan. 1, 2020. However, if the cost of living exceeds those amounts, the increases will be adjusted to meet the actual cost of living.

The top-scale pay for general assignment reporters is now $65,000, which would increase to $68,400 in January 2020. The top scale pay for a section head and a senior reporter would move from $95,000 to $100,000.

The agreement contains job security terms requiring “just cause” for termination and that seniority will prevail in cases of staff reductions when an employee has the needed skills and ability to perform the job. Severance pay for staff reductions are based on length of service that range from no less than five weeks’ pay to no more than 50 weeks. For the first three months after the termination, the Company will make the same contribution to medical and dental insurance for any employee and dependent coverage the employee is enrolled in at the leave date.

Differences over the contract’s provisions are subject to a grievance procedure which includes the possible arbitration of disputes.

Employees’ annual vacation will be 25 days, which increases to 28 days after five years of service. Work on any of the 10 holidays will be paid at time and one-half in addition to the employee’s workweek.

Parental leave for maternity, adoption and paternity of 10 weeks at full pay will be granted upon request to employees who are expecting or give birth or are newly matched for the adoption of a child for which they will be a primary caregiver, provided they have one year or more of continuous service at the date the parental leave commences.

The Guardian will continue to pay the full premium for its employees’ health insurance. If the cost of the two-person and family plan members increase, the company will absorb the first 10 percent of the additional cost. The company will continue to contribute 4 percent to employees’ 401(k) accounts each pay period which new employees can enroll in after 60 days of service.

Training will be provided when employees are assigned to new posts, when they use new technology and when jobs are altered significantly. Refresher courses in those areas will be made available on a regular basis.

Overtime eligible employees are entitled to premium pay after forty hour of work a week while ineligible will receive compensatory time off. Sick days will be counted as time worked.

The agreement also includes terms for sick leave, transfers and promotions, non-discrimination, leaves of absences, expenses, the use of social media and a fair share representation fee.

Guild, AP reach 3-year tentative agreement

After 15 months of bargaining, the News Media Guild and The Associated Press have reached a tentative agreement that includes pay raises, lump sum payments, higher health insurance costs and greater protections for news associates than the company originally proposed.

Pay raises of 2 percent, 1.75 percent and 1.5 percent, with lump sum payments of $500, $300 and $300 are included in the agreement. The raises are effective on Sept. 25, 2014; Nov. 15, 2015; and Jan.1, 2017, respectively, with the lump sums payable on March 1, 2015; June 1, 2016, and Sept. 1, 2017.

The AP rejected key Guild proposals, including modified Guild shop and clarification of independent contractor language. We pushed forced transfers off the table, along with an AP proposal to halve dismissal pay for 10 years for new hires. The company held fast to its proposal to kick working spouses and domestic partners off health insurance, although that doesn’t take effect until 2017.

“The bargainers know that all your mobilizing actions last week helped push some of the worst proposals off the table,” Guild President Martha Waggoner said. “It’s not the contract we had hoped to get when negotiations began; however, the bargainers believe it’s the best we can get at the table. It’s up to members to decide whether they will support it.”

For health insurance details, click here

The plan designs for health insurance are big, including co-insurance for Guild-covered staffers for the first time and out-of-pocket maximums. Health insurance premiums, which had been static for six years, increase about 10 percent in 2015, 11 percent in 2016 and 10.8 percent in 2017, which our health consultant says is about on market trend. Continue reading