Both the Chicago Sun-Times and Gary Post-Tribune bargaining units voted to ratify the tentative agreement (TA) at ratification meetings Monday, Dec. 2. Chicago Newspaper Guild President David Pollard called Monday’s votes “a step in the right direction.”
“Hopefully, we’ll get the same type of response from the rest of our members,” Pollard said. “I want to thank everybody—mobilizers and the negotiating committee for all their hard work.”
The agreement was reached after 15 months of bargaining with the company.
The TA is not a done deal until the remaining three units vote at their meetings, scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 3.
The Contract Extension Agreement returns two furlough weeks, provides for a 2 percent raise on July 1, 2016, enhances severance, provides more job security. The contract extension would be in effect through Dec. 31, 2016.
The agreement also settled the charges the Guild filed with National Labor Relations Board. The Guild will withdraw the charges. In return for the Aggrego charge, any Pioneer Press editorial assistant laid off as a result of Aggrego will receive 13 weeks of severance. Four of the 17 Guild photographers will be brought back to work within 90 days of the contract’s ratification. Any photographer not returning to work will receive a lump sum of $2,000 if an individual photographer waives his or her individual legal rights to initiate legal action against the company.
“Only in a bargaining unit that is covered by a Guild contract would editorial employees be able to make these significant gains in the context of the uncertainty of the newspaper industry. This contract is great for our members in the Guild at Sun-Times Media. I want to thank our membership and all of the unions in the Chicago area for their support,” Chicago Newspaper Guild Executive Director Craig Rosenbaum said.
All 12 of the Gary unit Guild members and 44 of the Sun-Times unit Guild members voted.
“I think in the end, even those who didn’t like the agreement understood what they were voting on,” Sun-Times unit chair Bob Mazzoni said. “Given the continuing uncertainty of the industry, I think most people recognized it as a big step forward from the MOU.”
The Guild agreed to 15 percent salary cuts, two furlough weeks, sacrificed job security, reduced severance and other concessions in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) when the company declared bankruptcy in 2009. The Contract Extension Agreement replaces the MOU.
“I’m really happy we could reach an agreement. It’s been a long haul. I wish we could have done more, especially for the photographers. We still have more work to do, but overall I’m happy,” Gary unit chair Teresa Auch Schultz said.