Friday, January 11, 2008

Committee report on yesterday's session

This just in from the bargaining committee:

The Jan. 10 bargaining session ended on a flat but friendly note, as both sides seemed to move closer to settling a sticky issue centering on efforts to allow photographers to receive 50% in profits for their photos sold on "My Capture."

Differences of the "My Capture" payment structure surfaced during the year's first session, but both sides agreed that bargaining is the sole jurisdiction of the company negotiator and Guild representative — in a pointed rebuff of recent efforts by Daily Breeze editor Phillip Sanfield to inject himself into the "My Capture" issue.

At Thursday's session with a federal mediator, a draft of a proposed Memorandum of Agreement was submitted by our lead negotiator and local president for the Southern California Media Guild, Micheal Hartigan — but the MediaNews negotiator Jim Janiga rejected the draft, saying the 50% shared-profit figure is not now "in the cards." He suggested a 25% profit share.

The union countered with a proposal accepting that lower level now, with the understanding that on-going contract talks will include efforts to close the gap — "and that any negotiated increase will be retroactive" to the date of implementation of the MOA and any possible tentative agreement being agreed upon by both sides.

Janiga — sporting a Bruce Willis crewcut — frowned somewhat, but said he would check with MediaNews bean counters (our term). "I'll look it over," he said, after predicting that bargaining for additional profits would be difficult. "We're going to be very, very expense sensitive," he added.

Hartigan segued into the Sanfield issue, saying: "No one has the authority to bargain with the unit, except for those who are part of the company's bargaining team."

Janiga agreed: "If Phil made some statements ... I apologize for that."

Hartigan added: "He said he had the authority."

Janiga said emphatically: "He does not have the (bargaining) authority."

The session was cut short, in part, because the mediator had been called into another labor dispute. But both sides agreed to examine on Jan. 31 the Guild's proposal for settlement, including a three-year agreement with 4% raises for each year — with the second- and third-year rates at 2% in the scales and 2% in merit raises for all employees. The union will be able — and willing — to grieve any merit increase denied.

Also, there's still an effort to gain payments for work that receives a high number of hits on the newspaper's Website — "high" being defined as 2,500 clicks, at seven (7) cents per click (five (5) cents for reporters and photographers, with the remaining two (2) cents going into a pool that will be distributed equally, each quarter, between copy editors and designers.

More talks are set for Jan. 31, Feb. 7 and March 6.

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