Bloomberg-BNA is absorbing the separate Bloomberg Government operation, which will result in 40 additional bargaining-unit employees, putting the number of workers in the Guild’s jurisdiction at more than 700. About 10 BBNA employees will relocate to BGOV offices on K Street. Meanwhile, in a move affecting about 90 Guild-covered employees, BBNA is moving its Bethesda-based customer-service operations to the Arlington headquarters. Bloomberg bought the former Bureau of National Affairs in 2011, four years after BNA had moved to Crystal City from D.C.’s West End neighborhood.
The Bloomberg-BNA unit of about two dozen correspondents based outside of the Washington area ratified a new contract in July that mirrors most of the features in the three-year deal signed by the larger BBNA Guild unit earlier this year.
In the latest Correspondents contract, Guild members will receive raises of 3.15 percent to 4.55 percent, said WBNG Local Representative Paul Reilly. “And compared with the larger unit’s deal,” Reilly said, “the Correspondents agreement has better language on the use of contractors.”
BBNA correspondents report on state regulations and legislation affecting labor, medical, insurance, and environmental issues. The Guild has been representing employees of the former Bureau of Nationals Affairs since 1938, when it was owned by what would become U.S. News and World Report. From 1947 to 2011, BNA was employee-owned.
BNA was purchased by Bloomberg in 2011.
RATIFICATION BONUS TO BE PAID IN JANUARY UNLIMITED MERIT, SPOT BONUSES 401(K) IMPROVEMENTS
DOUBLING OF PARENTING LEAVE
In late December, Guild members overwhelmingly approved the tentative agreement the Guild bargaining team reached with management, triggering the payment of a $425 signing bonus to each employee and an improved 401(k) match for employees not covered by the traditional pension.
Because of the 401(k) improvement bargained by the Guild, BBNA will now contribute $0.75 for each $1 an employee contributes to his or her 401(k) account, up to a maximum 5.666% of earnings. The change makes it eas- ier for employees to get the full company match without having to contribute as much of their own money.
Only employees who are not covered by the pension (those hired after September 2010) get the match. Em- ployees hired before that date are vested in the defined benefit pension — which the Guild was able to preserve with no changes. BBNA had threatened to slash both the pension and 401(k).
With the new year comes unlimited merit pay increases as well as unlimited spot bonuses. That means man- agers aren’t restricted by any caps on either the number of increases and bonuses they can award, or the amount of those increases and bonuses.
That is on top of automatic pay increases ranging from 2.5% to 4.0% for the next three years, as well as im- provements in the payouts under both the corporate and individual sides of the pay-for-performance program.
Also starting this year, new parents have at least 20 days of paid parenting leave that they can take in con- nection with the birth or adoption of a child. Employees who are the primary caretaker can take an additional 10 days of paid leave, for a total of 30 days—a doubling of the parenting leave that was previously available.
The Guild additionally was able to hold off most of the cuts in overtime pay.
BBNA had demanded ending cash overtime payments for almost all employees in Grade 8 or higher. In the end, only employees who are exempt from federal overtime regulations AND who are Grade 9 or higher AND whose salary is above the maximum of Grade 9, Band B ($88,510 as of 3/1/16) won’t get cash overtime. Instead, they get compensatory time at the time and one-half rate.
All employees remain on the 37.5 hour week, but time and a-half (either pay or comp time) kicks in after 40 hours in a week. From 37.5 hours to 40 hours you get straight time. Annual leave, personal days, and sick days do not count toward the weekly hours worked.
What happened to the sick leave bank?
The answer: We don’t know.
BBNA demanded that it take over the sick leave bank (which had been successfully administered by the Guild for years), but as of early January, BBNA had not set up a replacement. The contract language demanded by management calls for a 60-day transition period during which the two sides would “meet and confer” (not bargain) about the transition from the Guild bank to the management bank. But in the meantime, management says there is no longer a sick leave bank, leaving employees who need the leave out in the cold.
The Guild and BBNA management reached tentative agreement in the early morning hours Wednesday on a new contract that will increase wages, freeze health care costs for two years, increase new-parent leave and protect retiree health care. Guild members will still need to ratify the agreement for it to go into effect.
The agreement would take affect January 1, 2016, and run through February 28, 2019. (The cur- rent pay bands would be in effect for this January and February). The deal, if ratified by members, also provides for a $425 signing bonus for all Guild-covered employees.
Band increases in each year of the contract would be: Band A 4.00%; Band B 3.75%; Band C 3.50%; and Band D 2.50%. There would be no limit on merit increases and no limit on “spot” bonuses.
For new parents (including those adopting children) the paid leave is increased from 15 days to 20 days, and employees who are the “primary caretaker” of the child get an additional 10 days of paid leave. In addition, new parents would be able to take up to six months of unpaid leave without having to exhaust paid sick and annual leave (although they would have to exhaust their paid parenting leave).
While the deal holds health care costs steady in the first two years, starting in 2018 management has the right to change the premiums to a percentage basis instead of a flat dollar amount. The maximum premium in 2018 would be 15%. In 2019, it could go to 20%. The Guild premiums can be no higher than the premiums paid by management.
Also starting in 2018, management can increase co-insurance, co-pays, etc., but again, we could not be required to pay higher rates than management. Out-of-pocket maximums would be capped at 4% for individuals, 5% for employee +1, and 7% for family coverage. Those levels would be 5%, 6%, and 7%, respectively, in 2019.
Retiree health insurance for Medicare-eligible retirees is unchanged. Starting in 2018, pre-Medicare retirees will pay the same premiums as active employees.
There are no changes in the pension.
There’s also a slight improvement in the 401(k) match. The match will be $.75 per each dollar contributed by the employee, up to five and two-thirds percent, making it easier for employees to get the full company match. The deal also codifies the current practice of automatically enrolling new employees at a 3% contribution rate.
We were able to fend off most of management’s demands regarding the workweek (which re- mains at 37.5 hours as the “norm”), but there are some changes in how overtime is calculated. Starting in 2016, employees will be paid straight time for all hours worked between 37.5 and 40 in a week. Sick leave and annual leave won’t count toward the 40 hours, but holidays will.
Employees who are both exempt from overtime under federal law and whose salary is above the Grade Nine, Band B maximum ($91,165 as of March , 2016), will get compensatory time off (calculated at the rate of time and a-half) for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a week.
Unfortunately, we did take some hits in job security in order to secure the economic benefits.
The notice period for layoffs is reduced from 60 days to 30 days, there is no longer any bumping allowed, and in the case of a layoff, management has the right to exempt up to 10% of the targeted unit (essentially one person in practice) from the seniority rules. Severance is unchanged, but the maximum paid COBRA coverage is reduced to three months from the current six months.
In addition, management now will have the right to subcontract work. If employees are laid off as a result of subcontracting, they would get 60 days’ RIF notice and a minimum of eight weeks severance.
In discipline, written warnings would not be subject to arbitration. (Oral warnings already were exempt from arbitration). You can still grieve oral and written warnings.
The grievance process has been revamped, and there are two steps instead of the current three.
BBNA also will get more leeway in hiring temporary agency hires to fill positions, but such work- ers will get credit toward the probation period if converted to regular BBNA employees. Generally, a temp agency employee will not be allowed to fill a Guild position for more than 12 months.
Guild and management bargainers agreed yesterday to take a break in off-the-record negotiations so the Guild can work on a complete counter-proposal to management’s “alternative” proposal.
Management set a self-imposed deadline of December 15th to reach an agreement. Guild bargain- ers are working to have a comprehensive counter by Monday, while continuing to perform their regular job duties.
The Guild team is ready to bargain past December 15 in an effort to get BBNA employees the best contract possible. The deadline was set by management, and can be extended anytime it chooses.
Management has said if there is no agreement by the 15th, it will withdraw its “alternative” proposal and revert to its even more draconian demands.