Washington Post, Guild reach tentative agreement

November 1, 2013
Category: Uncategorized

Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild News Co-Chair Fredrick Kunkle says in a Facebook post that The Washington Post and its union members “have reached tentative agreement on a new contract.” All Guild members will get a raise under the proposed agreement.

Among the deal points: Departing employees will still get two weeks’ pay for each year they’ve worked at the Post, and a guarantee that laid-off employees can either return to work “when economic conditions improve —or, as is more often the case, negotiate a fair buyout that allows a person time to recover after permanently giving up his or her job.”

The Guild thanks “Post’s management—and particularly its new owner, Jeffrey Bezos–for reaching a fair agreement.”

Full posting:

The Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild is pleased to announce that The Washington Post and the union have reached tentative agreement on a new contract.
Under the pact reached Friday, the new collective bargaining agreement would remove several provisions that threatened the union’s survival, retain critically important job protections, and give all Guild-covered employees a raise. More than three dozen of the unit’s lowest-paid employees will receive an additional pay hike of up to several thousand dollars under a provision that simplifies pay steps by moving everyone in those job classifications to the highest minimum-pay level.
After months of very difficult negotiations – conducted much of the time off the record –The Post and the union’s Bargaining Committee have agreed to a one-year contract that:
• Grants a $13 a week raise, effective the first pay period following the contract’s signing. In addition, Class-A circulation truck drivers would receive an additional a 50-cent/hour increase.
• Keeps the current severance provision that guarantees departing employees two weeks’ pay for every year of service. This has been an important tool in helping a sizable number of employees to receive reasonable compensation or negotiate fair buyouts when being cut loose after years of satisfactory service. The Post had attempted to cut the severance pay in half.
• Leaves the current pension untouched.
• Retains a key provision on layoffs that guarantees an employee may to return to work when economic conditions improve¬—or, as is more often the case, negotiate a fair buyout that allows a person time to recover after permanently giving up his or her job
Maintains the current compromise on considering seniority when making layoffs. Under the current provision – which the Guild had sought to keep all along – the company has the right to exempt up to 25 percent of a unit’s employees from layoffs, thereby keeping some employees of its choosing regardless of when they were hired. The remaining 75 percent of the reductions are then determined by seniority, as in last hired, first to go. The Guild believes this is fair to people who have been loyal to the Post for much of their careers while granting the Post flexibility in the makeup of its staff – and also discouraging the Post from churning more experienced, more costly employees for less-experienced, lower-paid staff. The Post had sought to use a 50-percent exemption.
• Maintains the progressive discipline process. The Post has, however, won the right to eliminate an oral warning from the sequence of steps that are required before terminating an employee for performance or attendance issues. Instead, The Post could satisfy the progressive discipline standard with a written warning and a suspension.
• Eliminates a proposed poison pill that would have cut off the payroll collection of union dues when the next contract expires. Without automatic payroll deduction, the union would have to go hat in hand to ask members to pay the dues that keep the union running. The upshot would have been that the Post would have no incentive to negotiate as expiration neared.
• Sets new drug-testing guidelines for circulation truck drivers when they are working inside the company’s printing plant.

On the whole, the Guild’s Bargaining Committee believes this is a good contract and has voted unanimously to endorse it. We would like to express our gratitude to the Post’s management—and particularly its new owner, Jeffrey Bezos–for reaching a fair agreement. The union is even more grateful for the support of its approximately 820 unit members, particularly the volunteers who have served on the Bargaining Committee. Special thanks goes to its subcommittee–Post employees Nikita Stewart and Stephen “Rocky” Richardson and Guild professional staffers Rick Ehrmann and Bruce Nelson–who met with Post management to hammer out the details of this agreement.

Freddy Kunkle Stephen “Rocky” Richardson
Co-chair, news Co-chair, commercial

Nikita Stewart Patricia Jacob
Vice chair, news Vice chair, commercial

Joel Achenbach Michelle Boorstein
Emily Chow James Crudup
Matt DeLong Tim Smith

Previously: Washington Post Guild: ‘The Post would like to fire you’