AKRON UNIT, BJ REACH TENTATIVE PACT tnglocal1
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breaking news / Beacon Journal contract
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TENTATIVE AGREEMENT IN AKRON
The following information on a tentative agreement comes from TNG Sector Representative Darren Carroll, chief spokesperson for the Guild bargaining committee:
Guild and management negotiators reached tentative agreement on a four-year contract July 8 covering 130 workers at the Akron Beacon Journal.
Guild workers succeeded in defending their contract against several demands that would have eroded job security, weakened jurisdiction, imposed a discretionary pay system and eliminated premium pay for all bargaining unit positions at the assistant editor level.
The agreement followed an intensive campaign by Guild-represented workers that included, among other things, a week-long byline strike, informational picketing, community outreach, a strike vote, membership authorization to conduct advertising and circulation boycotts, creation of a popular web site and an array of creative in-plant tactics.
In addition, on Wednesday, July 7, more than 100 people rallied at the Beacon Journal to launch the Guild's campaign to collect circulation pledges. The rally was attended by labor and community leaders, Guild workers and TNG-CWA President Linda Foley.
Key terms of the agreement are as follows:
WAGES: The contract provides for wage increases of 2.5, 2.0, 2.0 and 2.0 percent in each year of the agreement, with larger percentage increases in the first year for lower paid employees. Management withdrew a proposal for a discretionary pay system; current contract language on discretionary pay will continue to govern.
JOB SECURITY: Management withdrew a proposal that would have permitted independent contractors to perform bargaining unit work without limitation; current contract language, with minor changes, will continue to govern the use of freelance correspondents. Negotiators reached agreement on a provision to permit expanded use of up to 10 student correspondents, who are members of the bargaining unit.
HEALTH INSURANCE: Effective October 1, management will be able to offer its Blue-Green health insurance program, a self-insured plan that covers most non-union Knight Ridder employees. The employee percentage of premium cost-sharing cannot be increased for the life of the contract.
In addition, agreement also was reached on the establishment of a Taft-Hartley trust into which insurance premiums will be paid. The trust will have the ability to contract with another health insurance provider that will offer an additional plan to
Guild-represented employees. The Beacon Journal must pay into the trust whatever it would otherwise contribute to the Blue-Green plan for any employee who elects to take insurance made available through the trust.
TRANSFERS: Management secured the right to transfer new employees to other job titles, with the limitation that such transfers have to be for valid journalistic reasons and can't be unreasonable or punitive.
INCREASED RESPONSIBILITY POSITIONS: A compromise on "increased responsibility" positions defines the duties that warrant payment of an $89 weekly pay premium. At least nine positions will continue to qualify for the premium, as well as anyone who fills in for an excluded manager. Several positions will no longer be eligible for the premium, though incumbents in those positions, and those who regularly fill in, for them, will continue to receive the pay.
A membership meeting is being scheduled to discuss and vote on the terms of the tentative agreement.
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