By: Joe Strupp
The Newspaper Guild representing employees at the San Jose Mercury News reached a tentative agreement for a new two-year contract with the paper on Monday, which will provide for fewer layoffs than previously expected, according to a guild bulletin first posted on the Poynter.org Romenesko site.
“As a result, the company will reduce its number of Guild layoffs from 69 to 27.51 full-time equivalent positions,” the bulletin stated about the MediaNews Group daily. “The layoffs will be announced tonight and tomorrow. As part of the agreement, the company will guarantee no further layoffs in the bargaining unit at least through June 30, 2007.”
The agreement includes a 2 percent wage increase each year , with 1.5 percent and .5 percent raises every six months, and a $1,000 signing bonus for members, the bulletin said. “The signing bonus is designed to ease the transition to a new health plan, in which members will be paying about 20 percent of premiums for Blue Cross plans and 30 percent for Kaiser,” the announcement stated. The pension plan will be frozen and replaced with a 401K matching contribution of up to 3 percent if an employee contributes 6 percent.
In a sign of growing convergence, the contract also allows the paper “to coordinate news coverage and advertising sales with other MediaNews papers and take content from those publications.”