Increases of any kind are rare in the newspaper business these days. Circulation is falling at daily papers nationwide, as are advertising sales. As a result, newspaper revenues have been stagnant or declining, newsrooms have been shrinking and many newspaper employees haven’t seen a raise in years.
Thus, it was big news late last year when the San Francisco Chronicle and the California Media Workers Guild agreed to a two-year contract that increased wages for some employees as much as 5% and added benefits, too.
Chronicle employees who belong to the guild—an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America union—voted 88-13 to ratify the new collective bargaining agreement. The guild represents Bay Area employees at media companies from San Jose to Santa Rosa.
The new agreement covers approximately 250 Chronicle employees, including editors, researchers, salespeople, customer service reps, classified ad coordinators, bookkeepers,clerks, computer operators, telecom workers and circulation clerks.
The contract gave 1.5% pay raises to most employees, while editorial assistants received a 5% bump. Workers also will receive five additional days of paid sick leave per year and an additional week of vacation after 10 years of service.
The pay raises are the first for guild members in more than five years.
Despite better pay and benefits, guild leaders acknowledged member “dissatisfaction with the modest gains included in the contract.” However, they noted that it represents “gains unmatched by virtually any other newspaper guild unit in the country in 2010.”
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