Press Herald workers face big cuts

Here's the latest information from the Portland Newspaper Guild about the contract changes proposed by the prospective new owners of MaineToday Media. It looks like a huge change in power, toward management and away from workers, including forcing the Guild to bid against vendors in a global competition to provide services to the company, and stripping the Guild of its seats on the company's board of directors.


Jan. 17, 2012

From the Guild Negotiations Committee:
On Friday the potential new investors presented us with a package of 50 proposed changes to the contract we signed last month. We have worked for three days to fully understand the proposals, which would affect every Guild member, current and future, in some way.

General membership meetings have been scheduled for noon on Wednesday, January 18, in the first-floor conference room at One City Center and at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the South Portland facility.

Here is a summary of the changes that have been proposed:


  • 40-hour workweek without compensation (effectively a 6 percent pay cut)
  • 70/30 split on health care (a 50 percent increase from the current 80/20 split)
  • Elimination of the minimum mileage reimbursement. All other transportation compensation would be at the discretion of the company.
  • End of parking subsidy in Portland ($50 to $100 a month depending on where you park)
  • 50 percent share of dental premium ($200 per year shift on to employees)
  • 50 percent share of life insurance premium, replacing current 100 percent coverage
  • No night differential
  • No on-call pay
  • No minimum hours for being called in during off hours
  • No premium for filling in for a manager.
  • No differential for clamp truck driver ($10 a shift)
  • Advertising Sales compensation will be recalculated with base pay being set at 80% of last year's total compensation.  Commission plans to be set at the sole discretion of management.

  • Overtime after 40 hours
  • "Monthly scheduling" which would give management the discretion to require comp time, in lieu of overtime, outside the week in which the extra hours were worked

  • Unlimited outsourcing with no employee protected from layoff. The Guild would be required to bid against any outside vendor, anywhere in the world, and if we cannot beat their price, we lose the work.
  • The unilateral right of management to move any job to any location without bargaining
  • No protection from  layoffs for jobs lost due to new processes or equipment

  • All new sales people would be commission only - no base pay.
  • New employees would be hired at current first step, but would move through the steps at a rate of 1.5 percent a year. Based on current wages, it would take a reporter hired at bottom step 26 years to reach the top step, and 30 years for a district manager.
  • New hires could be replaced by non-Guild employees in newly created positions. (The investors want no limit on their ability to create new exempt positions.)
  • New hires could be displaced by temporary or part-time employees.
  • New hires could be laid off as a result of hiring irregular part timers (correspondents).
  • Temporary and irregular employees' pay and benefits would be at the discretion of the company.

  • Switch from weekly to bi-weekly pay
  • No recall of Guild members who were laid off prior to new investment
  • Elimination of union seats on the Board of Directors.
  • No arbitration for disciplinary firing
  • No more minimum of five photographers. Company would retain right to use unlimited photo freelancers.
  • Editorial writer and columnist positions would be removed from the Guild

  • Three weeks of vacation time for new hires
  • Company would pay for 80 percent of continuing education courses for employees who select from a list of approved classes, up to $1,000.
  • Sabbatical for senior journalists. "Senior journalists," as defined by the company, could take a three-month sabbatical every six years at 75 percent pay.
  • Maternity/paternity paid leave extended from three days to ten day


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