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Why Merc staffers are paid a lot more than those at Oakland Trib, CoCo Times

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Members vote tomorrow on whether to extend Pacific Media Workers’ current contract with the Mercury News for another year. It’s likely a formality, since the newspaper and guild negotiators tentatively agreed to it last week.

Add: Left for another day is the brewing issue of parity involving staffers at the Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times, who earn 25 percent less than their counterparts at the Mercury News. That’s despite, under MediaNews Group’s consolidation scheme, the Trib and CoCo Times now publish as editions of the Mercury News while clinging to the semblance of being separate newspapers. In other words, if you work at the Trib or CoCo Times, you’re really at a branch operation of the Mercury News. (Indeed, bylines are plugged into the various MediaNews properties in such a way that nowadays a typical reader has little means of knowing where a reporter is domiciled.)

More: Absent offering any logic for paying some of its people less than others, management’s response to East Bay guild members thus far has essentially been to say they can’t afford it. An updater on the issue, excerpted from the union’s Facebook page and posted Sunday follows the jump:

“The Company, as expected, offered little enthusiasm for the Guild's comprehensive contract proposal mirroring the existing South Bay contract, which calls for parity between the East Bay and Mercury News on nearly all contract terms. Management cited economic constraints but at the same time expressed sympathy for the goal of ending unequal treatment for colleagues doing equal work.

“At the same time, the Guild declined the Company's proposed one-year extension of the current East Bay contract, demanding instead to continue talks on the parity issue. A one-year extension has been tentatively agreed in San Jose, along with a no-layoff guarantee through August and two paid days off.

“Guild negotiators offered to focus the next phase of talks in the East Bay on non-economic items, before turning to the core issues of pay, expense reimbursement and benefits. We have identified several dozen examples of contract disparities that need to be addressed – many of which can be handled at little or no cost to the Company.”

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