Philadelphia Daily News

Philly’s new union deals: What do they mean? A union view

Related: Philly’s labor talks: What do they mean? A management view

howginslerWorkers at Philly.com voted 30-1 late Wednesday to ratify a new two-year contract with management. The contract is similar to a related one bargained by their union, the Newspaper Guild, and ratified by the more than 400 workers at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News. They key elements are improved management contributions to health care plans, greater company flexibility in layoffs when it comes to seniority, and no increase in base wages.

I spoke with Daily News columnist Howard Gensler, part of the union bargaining team, about the negotiations, the changes they reflect and their potential relevance to previously non-union online news organizations now interested in collective bargaining, notably Gawker Media and Salon.

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Philly’s labor talks: What do they mean? A management view

Related: Philly’s new union deals: What do they mean? A union view

Stan Wischnowski

Stan Wischnowski

A key figure for management in the just-concluded and ratified new two-year contracts at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com is Stan Wischnowski, who is vice president for news operations at The Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com. Bargaining in an age of increasing fragmentation and austerity is not easy, especially at big-city dailies. The two new deals were concluded Wednesday with Newspaper Guild ratification of the second of two agreements. They include increased company contributions to health care plans, greater flexibility when it comes to traditionally seniority-driven layoffs and no increase in basic wages.

1. What’s the importance of the labor agreements in Philadelphia?

These were very difficult negotiations for everyone involved and that cannot be overstated. Read more

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Philly contract deal: company hikes health payments, gets concessions on layoffs and raises

A tentative contract for Philadelphia’s major newspapers includes greater healthcare contributions by management but concessions on whether it must heed traditional seniority rules when it comes to layoffs.

The deal does not include any raise in basic wages. It was bargained shortly before a Saturday deadline. Details were discussed in several sessions with Newspaper Guild members on Monday.

In all, about 500 Guild members are covered by two separate contracts: one covering workers at the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, while the other covers about 50 people at Philly.com

The two most heated issues were health care contributions and use of seniority in layoffs.

With layoffs, management will be able to exempt certain individuals “deemed to be essential to the company’s operations” from seniority-driven layoffs. Read more

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Tentative contract deal in Philly as deadline approached

A tentative agreement has been reached on a new contract and thus likely avoids a strike at Philadelphia’s two major newspapers.

The deal was cut late Friday. No details were disclosed, with the Philadelphia branch of the Newspaper Guild to outline specifics to members on Monday and set a date for a vote.

Two related contracts between the union and Philadelphia Media Network expired May 23 but were extended to Saturday by mutual agreement. A tentative deal on one contract involving 50 union members at Philly.com, was reached earlier, which had left the contract covering 400 members at the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News.

The union had earlier given leaders authorization to call a strike if no deal was cut by the deadline. The last big-city newspaper strikes were in Detroit and were resolved by a deal in 2000. Read more

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Tentative deal in Philly on one of two labor pacts

A tentative deal has been reached on one contract in ongoing newspaper negotiations in Philadelphia.

Both sides confirmed Friday that they have essentially completed the smaller of two related contracts. It involves about 50 Newspaper Guild members at Philly.com.

The larger of the two contracts involves 400 members at the Inquirer and Daily News.

“We are pleased to share that, as a result of approximately eight hours of negotiations yesterday with a federal mediator, representatives of the Company and the Guild signed a tentative agreement for Philly.com,” said Keith Black, vice-president of human resources for the employer, Philadelphia Media Network.

Bill Ross, executive director for the union, also confirmed via email what he underscored is a “tentative” deal, while saying there were still matters to be finalized, notably on healthcare. Read more

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Talk of Philly newspaper strike, unionizing move at Gawker, big window onto media labor relations

Members of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia rally  outside the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News building in 2006. Union members  will vote Wednesday on whether to give leaders the right to call a walkout. (AP Photo/George Widman)

Members of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia rally outside the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News building in 2006. Union members will vote Wednesday on whether to give leaders the right to call a walkout. (AP Photo/George Widman)


Union members in Philadelphia will vote Wednesday evening on whether to give leaders the right to call a walkout and potentially trigger an American labor relations rarity: a big city newspaper strike.

In fact, you’re far more likely to ever see a lunar eclipse than a newspaper strike. We at least tend to get an eclipse or two every year. Guess when the last big newspaper strike was?

The contract between the Philadelphia Media Network and the Newspaper Guild expired May 23 but is extended to June 27 by mutual agreement. Read more

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Union at Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com to take strike vote

The Philadelphia branch of the Newspaper Guild on Thursday set a strike authorization vote next week for its 500 members at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com.

A June 3 vote comes amid ongoing bargaining on a new contract to replace the one that expired earlier in the month. It’s now been extended to June 27 by mutual agreement of the union and management.

The primary issues include health care contributions by employees and the role of seniority in potential layoffs. Talks resume Friday.

In a Thursday letter to members, the leadership of Local 38010 of the Newspaper Guild indicated the secret-ballot vote would start in late afternoon and that the union bargaining committee will be present “to answer any question before you cast this important vote.”

A strike authorization is not tantamount to a walkout. Read more

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Philly.com got 555 comments on an article about changes to comments

All was quiet in the comments section for a few hours on Monday after a piece about changes to Philly.com’s comments process went up on the site. And that made Erica Palan a little nervous. But the quiet didn’t last for too long.

By Tuesday afternoon, there were 555 comments in that article’s comments section.

Palan, audience engagement manager for Philly.com, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, answered questions via email about a video included in the article with staff reading angry comments, changes to the comments process and why the site is keeping its comments up. First, here’s the video:

KH: What made you guys decide to do the video?

We actually filmed and edited the video more than a month ago. Several people had approached me about the idea and we’d been joking about doing this for a few months. Read more

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Philadelphia Inquirer building

No brotherly love for rival papers in Philadelphia

Philly.com | Columbia Journalism Review | CBS Philly

The Philadelphia Daily News reporting team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for a report on police corruption and sexual assault is being accused of paying the bills of one of its key sources and allegedly encouraging her to exaggerate facts of a criminal complaint about the incident. The story comes from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Both papers are owned by H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest. Lenfest originally wanted to hold the story about why federal prosecutors did not bring charges against police officer Thomas Tolstoy, accused of sexual assault by three women in the “Tainted Justice” series, according the Columbia Journalism Review. But after an article was published about the story being held, the Philadelphia Inquirer published its story. Read more

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Sex-slave investigation shares Philly Daily News’ front page with ‘Sexy Singles’

Philadelphia’s location between several mid-Atlantic cities “creates a particularly attractive opportunity for the brokers of enslaved women,” Morgan Zalot writes in an investigation of sex trafficking published in the Philadelphia Daily News early Tuesday.

Philly is also a place where “Sexy Singles” appear in swimsuits, according to its front page.

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