Clock Ticking on Newspaper Deal
Monday could be a make-or-break day in negotiations between Philadelphia Media Network — which owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com — and the Newspaper Guild.
The guild’s leaders said in a Thursday night memo to members, that the two sides will meet that day with a federal mediator — and that the mediator “has asked the Company to be prepared to stay as long as necessary on Monday to reach a deal.”
The current contract between the two sides expires the following Saturday. Guild members have already approved strike preparations.
It appears, however, that some progress has been made. The guild had been seeking to have Philly.com employees — who work under a separate contract from their colleagues at the newspapers — brought into the “main unit” contract. The guild in the memorandum said the two sides had “made some progress addressing work rules in the Philly.com contract,” but didn’t offer details. PMN said a tentative agreement on the issue had been signed, but also did not reveal details.
“If the Company moves off of its ridiculous seniority proposal and agrees to properly fund member healthcare to the degree that members will still be able to afford to work here, we believe a deal could be struck on Monday,” the leadership said. “On the other hand, the Company has not moved off of its untenable positions in 8 months.”
The full memo is below.
From: Guild Bulletin
Subject: GUILD BULLETIN: HEADING INTO THE HOMESTRETCH, BUT THE TRACK’S STILL MUDDY
The Guild Bargaining Committee met with Company negotiators for close to 8 hours today and made some progress addressing work rules in the Philly.com contract. The Guild was prepared to finish bargaining the Philly.com contract today except the Company came with no new economic proposal for the Health & Welfare Fund.
This was especially disheartening since at the last session the Guild left the Company with a proposal for healthcare contributions and was expecting a counter-offer. The Company even promised today to discuss healthcare economics after signing off on some Philly.com language, but when the time came, they again said they needed to speak to the healthcare consultant to obtain info they already had, and asked to push off discussion of healthcare contributions until Monday morning at 8 a.m.
The Federal Mediator has asked the Company to be prepared to stay as long as necessary on Monday to reach a deal. Only two issues remain: healthcare and seniority. If the Company moves off of its ridiculous seniority proposal and agrees to properly fund member healthcare to the degree that members will still be able to afford to work here, we believe a deal could be struck on Monday. On the other hand, the Company has not moved off of its untenable positions in 8 months.
Have a nice weekend. Happy Father’s Day.
Keith Black, VP of Human Resources for PMN, sent out his own update:
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. Following review and sign-off on the tentative agreement by both sides, the mediator recommended that the parties resume talks on Monday morning, with the intent to stay as long as necessary to reach an agreement on the main unit contract.
We look forward to continuing our discussions with the goal of reaching an agreement with Guild representatives.