Philadelphia Inquirer

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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5 things John Carroll taught me about great investigative projects

John Carroll speaking in this 2003 file photo. At middle is Todd Merriman, who was the senior editor/news of The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Kathleen Carroll, right, executive editor of The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

John Carroll speaking in this 2003 file photo. At middle is Todd Merriman, who was the senior editor/news of The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Kathleen Carroll, right, executive editor of The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

When John Carroll visited me and Poynter in January 2013, he was a trim, vigorous retiree in his early 70s. So the news Sunday morning that he had died of a degenerative brain disease, diagnosed earlier this year, hit me hard.

On reflection, among many generous mentors, John may have been the most important to me. As the obituaries noted, he had uncanny skill at commissioning and editing big investigative projects, which won multiple Pulitzers for four different newspapers.

I don’t know that John ever gave a full “how-to” account of his approach, but here are five principles that stuck with me gleaned from the time I worked for him at the Philadelphia Inquirer and conversations later in our careers. 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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Go to the places where the cameras aren’t, says award-winning journalist

Quarterback Mark Sanchez hugs his father, Nick, before an NFL football game in this 2012 photo. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Quarterback Mark Sanchez hugs his father, Nick, before an NFL football game in this 2012 photo. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

It was Thanksgiving Day, and for once, Mark Sanchez didn’t deliver a turkey. The often-maligned quarterback had a huge game in leading Philadelphia to a big win over Dallas.

Sitting in the press box, Mike Sielski considered his options. The columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer could have written a piece on the importance of the game to Sanchez and the Eagles. Perhaps he would go down to the locker room to get some perfunctory comments. Maybe not. Quotes often are excess baggage in today’s opinion age.

Sielski, though, had something different in mind.

He knew Sanchez’s father, Nick, was at the game, and that Mark’s career also had been a rollercoaster ride for him. Read more

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Interstate General Media to close Inquirer.com

Philadelphia Magazine

Inquirer.com and PhillyDailyNews.com, standalone websites for two newspapers owned by Interstate General Media, will soon close, Philadelphia Magazine reported Thursday.

According to a memo obtained by Philadelphia Magazine, the two sites, which feature content from The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Daily News, will be “folded into” one site, Philly.com:

What this means is that the standalone newspaper-branded sites will no longer exist and will instead redirect readers to Philly.com, where users will find Inquirer and Daily News journalism featured more prominently and have access to branded Inquirer and Daily News section fronts that represent the editorial voice and judgment of the newspapers.

The decision marks an end of an experiment began in April 2013, when both newspapers unveiled the subscription-based sites. The sites were designed to “reflect the papers’ personalities”

A few newspapers have released parallel free and subscription-based sites, including The San Francisco Chronicle (which maintains sfgate.com free of charge and sfchronicle.com for subscribers) and The Boston Globe (which offers boston.com for free and bostonglobe.com with a metered paywall system) Read more

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