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Newspaper accords.

Newspaper accords

In St. Paul, MN, the Pioneer Press Dispatch and Local 29C of the Graphic Communications union agreed on a 9 1/2 year contract for 43 pressroom employees. The contract reportedly permits the newspaper to reduce gradually the number of employees in particular positions. It also calls for wage increases totaling $5.31 an hour (the previous rate was $19.29 an hour for employees on the day shift).

The agreement was retroactive to the August 31, 1988, expiration date of the prior contract.

Elsewhere, The Washington Post (DC) and The Newspaper Guild were optimistic about their future relationship after they agreed on a 5-year contract. The previous contract had expired in mid-1986, and after bargaining collapsed a year later, the Post imposed some contract changes on the 1,400 employees.

The Post's chief bargainer said the new accord, reached after 120 bargaining sessions, "deals with every conceivable issue, from video display terminals to adoption assistance. It's 2 years longer than any contract we've ever had before and it has the first no-strike and management-rights clauses we've ever had with the Guild."

The local union's chief negotiator was pleased that the local had won large increases in starting salaries for reporters and photographers (up to $100 a week) and significant improvements in health insurance benefits for all employees, although at a cost to employees.

The contract provides for general wage increases of $18.20 to $38.30 a week in the first year, $19.30 to $39.40 in the second, and $18.80 to $38.20 in the third. This will bring the top minimum rate--paid after 4 years of service--to $860.70 a week for reporters and employees in other key jobs. In each of the 3 years, the increases averaged $30 a week. This is also true of the fourth and fifth years, but the allocation of the money among various jobs in those years will be determined after the third year. Employees in the starting steps of some jobs will also receive increases under a new formula raising their rates to 80 percent of the top rates for their jobs.

All employees will be eligible for possible automatic annual cost-of-living pay adjustments in each of the final two years. The adjustments--each limited to 4 percent--will equal that portion of any rise in the BLS Consumer Price Index in excess of 6 percent during the preceding 12 months.

The employee obligation for health insurance is now 10 percent of the premium cost for employees earning $30,000 or more a year and 5 percent for those earning less.

Other terms included adoption of an accelerated grievance procedure for settling disputes over discharge and suspensions, provision for use of up to 10 days of vacation for paternity leave, testing of video display terminals for radiation emissions, and reimbursement of 50 percent of adoption expenses, to a maximum of $4,000 ($5,000 if the child has a disability).

The union also agreed to exclude 100 employees from the bargaining unit, while the Post dropped its plan to petition the National Labor Relations Board to permit the exclusion of a larger number. There also is provision for continuing talks on union charges that the Post was not fully paying reporters for overtime work, and that it discriminated against women and minorities.
COPYRIGHT 1989 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Title Annotation:developments in industrial relations
Author:Ruben, George
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Dec 1, 1989
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