Nearly three dozen Guild-represented workers at the York Daily Reporter/Sunday News have ratified a three-year contract that granted an immediate 1.5 percent wage increase, with another 1.5 percent wage hike set for July 2017.
The agreement is the first to be signed under Gannett’s ownership of the south-central Pennsylvania daily. Among other highlights are paid parental leave – a first for YDR staff – and improvements to healthcare coverage.
“We are conforming to Gannett’s health insurance plans,” said Unit Chair Hafiz Rashid. “This will likely lead to reduced premiums for Guild members on both employee-only and family plans.”
Guild members on plans such as employee-plus-spouse will pay a slightly larger share. “These Guild members’ premiums will increase $10 to $20 per month per the 2016 rates,” Rashid said. “And if you opt out of the health plan, you won’t get back 25 percent of the premium as you did before.”
Rashid noted that Guild bargainers were able to retain night-differential pay and an attempt to change qualifications for overtime. “We fought off these and other regressive proposals,” he said, “as well as an attempt to reduce the mileage rate.”
Gannett purchased the Daily Reporter/Sunday News and four other Pennsylvania newspapers in June 2015.
The Guild bargaining team was composed of Rashid, Chris Dunn, Abigail Geiger, Gordon Rago, and WBNG Executive Director Cet Parks. The agreement was unanimously ratified Aug. 10.
WBNG has bargained an “Effects Agreement” for the 10 York Daily Record Design Department staffers being laid off because of a Gannett consolidation in which daily layout tasks are being “moved” to Louisville, Ky.
The workers produce the daily newspaper and also handle design duties for three other Gannett-owned dailies in south-central Pennsylvania: the Chambersburg Public Opinion, the Hanover Sun, and the Lebanon Daily News. The YDR workers had been given the required 90-days’ notice of the layoffs in August; they were not given the option of a transfer to Louisville.
Under the effects agreement, the employees will be kept on the payroll until mid-November.
The WBNG-negotiated deal signed in October enforced the one-year-old collective bargaining agreement that guarantees severance payments for those affected by “contracting out,” and gained a minimum of four-weeks’ severance pay, even for employees with less than a year of service.
The chairperson at the Daily Record unit (soon to be reduced to 36 Guild-represented employees), Bethany McKay, was among those laid off.
Ten WBNG-represented employees of Gannett have been notified that the York Daily Record Design Department is being “moved” to Louisville, Ky.
The YDR workers lay out the daily newspaper and also handle design duties for three other Gannett-owned dailies in south-central Pennsylvania: the Chambersburg Public Opinion, the Hanover Sun, and the Lebanon Daily News.
About four dozen YDR workers are covered by a two-year Guild contract signed a year ago with Digital First Media, which finalized a sale of the news property to Gannett in June. None of the YDR design department employees is being given the option to move to Louisville.
The Guild-unit chairperson at the Daily Record, Bethany McKay, is a multiplatform editor at the paper, and is among those being laid off.
The nation’s largest newspaper chain announced June 1 that it was acquiring 11 daily news properties from Digital First Media (DFM), including the WBNG-represented York Daily Record/Sunday News and York Dispatch, which though owned by Gannett, will continue to have an independent publisher.
Owner of USA Today – and now 80 other daily newspapers – Gannett is the largest U.S. publisher by revenue and second largest in number of titles, with DFM managing about 100 newsrooms. Gannett had previously announced that it is about to split into two companies: TEGNA, for broadcast; and Gannett, which will become its “publishing division.”
The transaction involving the 11 daily newspaper properties in Texas, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania (including non-Guild papers in Hanover, Lebanon, and Chambersburg) seems to confirm that DFM was planning to sell off its daily products piecemeal in the wake of a failed deal to have them all purchased outright by Apollo Global Management.
In a statement, Robert Dickey, president of Gannett’s U.S. Community Publishing group and soon-to-be CEO of its publishing company, hailed the acquisitions. “We are pleased to welcome these [properties] … as we further our efforts to expand our reach as the best local media in America for consumers and businesses.”
The purchase of the WBNG-represented Dispatch, does not affect its independent editorial operations or its collective bargaining. The two York dailies combined their business activities in 1990, and have shared a building since 2013, when the Dispatch moved its editorial staff from downtown York to the Daily Record offices – now owned by Gannett – in adjacent West Manchester Township.
By a vote of 15 to 1, Guild members at the York Daily Record have ratified a two-year contract to replace the agreement that expired nearly nine years ago.
WBNG Executive Director Cet Parks said that the bargaining committee and publisher were to sign the contract within a few days of the Aug. 14 ratification vote.
Among the highlights of the contract are improvements to health-care coverage. “Within 30 days there will be an open enrollment period,” said Unit Chairperson Erin McCracken. “Everyone will have a choice among the PPO and high-deductible plans.
“We were told that there will be a second open enrollment at the normal time in November,” she added. “Your choice then will lock you into the plan for the coming year.”
The contract with the Guild was negotiated by a representative of California News Partnership, which is part of the Los Angeles News Group, which is owned by Digital First Media (DFM). MediaNews Group of Denver, the former owner of DFM, merged with 21st Century Media in January 2014. 21st Century Media was formerly the Journal Register Company.
The last Guild contract at the Daily Record was a three-year agreement that expired Sept. 30, 2005. (According to a management-provided “York Daily RecordCBA Timeline,” there were no negotiations from November 2008 to March 2014.)
York Newspaper Guild – Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild merger chronology
January 2011: Merger talks begin
October 2011: York Guild members approve merger
December 2011: WBNG members approve merger
March 2012: YNG-WBNG merger agreement signed
June 2012: TNG-CWA confirms charter