Composing: A (very) little
The big news out of Monday's negotiations between The Seattle Times and the Composing unit is that nothing's changing in the way that vacations are scheduled. Management had proposed to take initial vacation scheduling out of the hands of the chapel chair and have a manager do it.
Composing bargainers had been prepared to agree to that, if the company would agree to dues checkoff. (That's the system used in the main Guild unit, where the company automatically deducts union dues from your paycheck and forwards it to the Guild office.)
Times management was so averse to dues checkoff for the 21-member unit that it refused a package proposal we made. In exchange for dues checkoff, we would agree to:
- Withdraw our proposal to divert up to 15 cents to the CWA pension.
- Withdraw our proposal to require 90 days notice of the company's closure or sale.
- Withdraw our proposal to require that a new owner of The Seattle Times honor the existing contract.
- Accept the company's proposal on picket-line language.
With management's "no" to that package, those items remain on the table.
The company is considering our current proposal on contributions to the life and disability plan. Our proposal is basically a description of the way those contributions are currently calculated.
Management also reiterated its rejection of our proposal for sick leave for Composing-unit members. (Composing-unit members currently receive no paid sick leave.)
Another proposal they've turned down is one that would allow member Sandra Tollefson to return to journey-level status. Tollefson was originally hired in 1996, and subsequently earned journey-level status. She was laid off in January 2002, and rehired in July 2003 at the lower-paid associate wage level. If she had been rehired within a year, the contract would have required that she be returned at the higher level.
During discussion of this proposal, Guild President Yoko Kuramoto-Eidsmoe reasoned that Tollefson should be paid at the higher level since she's already demonstrated that she has the higher level of skills required of a journey-level worker.
Labor Relations Director Chris Biencourt said that journey level isn't a higher level. Biencourt said that they are the same jobs with the same skill levels.
"But one is paid more than another," Kuramoto-Eidsmoe said, confused.
"The associate rate is the market rate for the job," Biencourt said.
Guild Administrative Officer Liz Brown translated: "What he’s saying is that he thinks the Composing journey people get paid too much, and the associate level is what they want to pay. That way they can hire people at a cheaper rate. Isn’t that what you’re saying?"
"You have your words and I have mine," Biencourt replied.
The next Composing session will be after Labor Day.