Video Pleads Newspaper Guild’s Case

Copy editor says PMN health proposal isn't enough.

With a strike authorization vote looming, supporters of the Newspaper Guild are turning to video to make the case that Philadelphia Media Network — owner of the Inquirer, Daily News, and — needs to improve its offer to employees.

Here’s Elizabeth Slocum, a copy editor at the Daily News, explaining how she and her family are affected by the health care options currently under consideration:

The Guild has identified two priorities in our fight for a fair contract: protecting seniority and providing adequate…

Posted by Inquirer Alumni Network on Tuesday, June 2, 2015

For the record, here’s how PMN characterizes its health insurance offer to the Guild members:

• A 48% increase in the hourly rate that the Company contributes to the Guild Health & Welfare plan. The increase in contributions is in addition to the approximately $2.9 million that the Company currently contributes to the Guild’s H&W plan on an annual basis. As a result of the Company’s proposal, the Company’s hourly rate contributions would increase to $2.51 per hour for individual coverage (from the current $1.70 per hour) and $7.56 per hour for family coverage (from the current $5.13 per hour).

• Ending of furloughs and diverting the compensation associated with ending furloughs to the Guild Health & Welfare Fund.

And here’s why the guild characterizes that offer as, ultimately, a $6,000 to $14,000 in employee health costs:

The Company wants to pretend that it is offering a “48% increase in the hourly rate that the Company contributes to the Guild Health & Welfare plan.” What they are actually offering is a 4% pay cut. The money they claim they will add to the Health & Welfare Fund is the money that they WILL NOT pay you to work the two furlough weeks – even though you will be working. Yes, you read that correctly: In the Company’s latest proposal you will work your furlough weeks for no additional pay. employees, who get no furlough weeks now, will simply get a 4% pay cut. The Company is not ADDING any new money to their original $500,000 Health & Welfare contribution. They’re adding YOUR money – the money they were going to pay you to work your furlough weeks.

Yes, the Company now contributes approximately $2.9 million to the Guild’s Health & Welfare Fund. A little more than two years ago they were contributing more than $4.5 million. What Stan leaves out is that the cost of the plan we now have is going up to $6.3 million in June. The Company’s solutions? Either weaken the plan enough to make it affordable (with incredibly high deductibles and co-pays for members) or have members pick up the tab for what the plan costs now. That’s where the $6,000 to $14,000 increase comes from.

The two sides meet with a federal mediator from noon to four p.m. today. Tonight, guild members are scheduled to take a strike authorization vote at Loews, 12th and Market. The contract between the two sides expires June 27.