The Company and the Guild reached tentative agreement Friday on a few minor items.
The Company agreed to provide the Guild with a statement of cause when employees are discharged, and they supported striking language that refers to the past practice of allowing 1 out of 10 hires not to pay dues while receiving full benefits. (That practice was ended last time, but some language remained.)
The parties also agreed to update language on the Section 125 plan that enables employees to set aside money pre-tax for health expenses. The language said the Company would establish such a plan, and we’ve now updated the contract to say the Company will continue to offer the plan. The Company’s attorney said Hearst is testing giving people debit-like cards to pay out of their accounts. Currently, employees must save their receipts and submit them, but they get a tax savings for doing so. The debit-card idea would be a great way to increase involvement in the plans, which is a tax savings to employee and Company alike.
In return, the Guild agreed to a Company proposal that will have a minor impact every few years. The Company now deducts money from paychecks 52 weeks a year to pay for the employees’ share of the health-insurance premium. In years with 53 Fridays, the Company has to re-program its system to not make a deduction that extra week. The parties agreed that in years when there are 53 Fridays, the Company can divide what employees owe by 53. Guild members won’t pay any more. It is not a change we expect anyone to notice.
The parties also spent some time talking about how to monitor employee performance during probation. The union noted the Company has asked to extend some workers’ probation, and the Guild then finds supervisors have not been discussing performance with the employees every 30 days as the contract requires. The union’s proposal would require sharing that information with the union so it would not first learn of issues right before an extension request is made. The Guild also proposed that a union steward be able to attend the sessions, not to argue but to hear what concerns may arise.
The parties set four other bargaining dates: July 15, July 24, July 29 and July 31.
Many Guild members have asked what they can do to let the Company know how strongly they feel about some of its proposals. Be assured: Plans to mobilize are well underway. Stay tuned. And if you have an ideas, feel free to send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.