Tentative Agreement! New Deal Protects Guaranteed Pay Raises

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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.

 

Units in this article: Bloomberg-BNA