Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tell Me Again Why You Need a Union

The San Francisco Chronicle, one of the Hearst Corp.'s flagship operations, is asking its union, the Media Workers Guild, to give back just about everything it has in the way of pay and benefits, raising the question, "What use is a union in these times?"

The paper, which has a circulation of about 340,000, has been losing money for eight years, including $50 million last year, according to a story in its pages today. The guild issued this statement, which looks like it could have been written by management: "The terms reached late Monday include expanded management ability to lay off employees without regard to seniority. All employees who are discharged in a layoff or who accept voluntary buyouts are guaranteed two weeks' pay per year of service up to a maximum of one year, plus company-paid health care for the severance term, even in the event of a shutdown."

That's not all the give-back, though. According to the story, "Other concessions include reductions in vacation time, sick leave and maternity/paternity leave; expansion of the work week from 37.5 hours to 40; and the right for the company to subcontract any work."

Tough times these. The end of one inudstry looms. Let's just hope that what replaces it is at least as valuable.

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