Jim Romenesko has a report from inside the New York Times' negotiations with the Newspaper Guild, the union that represents its reporters and non-management editors. The details are interesting for what insight they offer into where Times reporters might be coming from on issues like health care, pension reform, and labor regulation:
Management backed off its initial demand that the jointly run Guild-Times health plan be eliminated and that Guild employees be covered instead under the nonunion employees' medical plan, which is inferior in many ways to current Guild coverage. However, The Times offered only a paltry additional contribution to the medical fund – one that amounts to about two-tenths of 1 percent of payroll, far short of what is needed to keep the fund healthy without more potential wage diversions from employees.
For the first time, management made an offer on wages over the course of its proposed three-year contract: no retroactive pay dating from March 31, 2011, the expiration of the contract; a 1 percent increase in the second year (2012), effective upon contract ratification; and, in 2013, a 1 percent lump sum bonus that would not be built into employees' salaries. The company made it clear that this is a "first wage proposal."
While maintaining its demand that the defined-benefit pension plan be frozen, the management negotiators for the first time also offered details on what they are offering in exchange: a 401(k) contribution of 3 percent of an employees' base salary for people with less than 10 years of continuous service, and a 5 percent contribution for those with 10 years or more. Actuaries for the Guild have estimated that nothing less than at least a 12 percent contribution would make up for the loss of future pension accruals for most people.
After originally demanding a 40-hour workweek for all employees, the company modified its proposal, reverting back to a 35-hour week with this significant addition: "The Times may schedule an employee to work up to an additional five hours under this provision, to be paid at the straight-time rate for time worked." Coupled with the proposal that overtime be paid on a weekly and not daily basis, this language could severely impact scheduling and compensation for many employees.
Got that? These reporters have – at least theoretically — a defined benefit pension plan, a 35-hour workweek with overtime after that, and a health insurance plan that is more generous than what non-union, i.e., management employees get. There aren't too many places left in the private economy like that.