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.
With health care, the company is said to contribute “just under $2.9 million to the health-insurance fund. In the first year of the contract, the company would pay about $4.3 million, paying $3.9 million in Year Two.”
Howard Gensler, a Daily News columnist and union negotiator, explained to Poynter, “In the second year, the company contributes an additional $1 million to health care, a few hundred thousand less than in year one. The Health & Welfare Trustees will determine when more information about the renewal rate is available whether members will have to pay a little more.”
“There are no raises in either year. Many members will take home more money because they’ll get paid for a 52-week year with no furloughs as opposed to a 50-week year with furloughs, as it has been the last few years,” he said.
Ratification votes will be held next week.