Thursday, June 14, 2007

Baltimore Sun Guild committee to recommend contract

Guild and management negotiators reached an agreement on a new 4-year contract late Wednesday. Members will vote on it tonight.

As part of the settlement, the controversial company-proposed provision requiring photographers to write and reporters to shoot will include protections for those current members having to do the work of both: a guarantee of training, a prohibition on discipline or negative performance reviews for the quality of photographs taken by reporters (and vice versa) and a joint Guild-management committee to address issues raised by the new provision, such as training, quality and work assignments.

"They have to provide that training," said WBNG president Bill Salganik told Editor & Publisher. "It makes us feel we've got to keep an eye on it, but it is a protection. We all want a quality product."

The Guild and management also came to an agreement on the company's pay-for-perfomance-only proposal that will now provide for a wage increase structure that includes a mix of automatic raises – real raises for everyone each year – and funding for a merit pay pool.

Despite painful memories of prior years' contentous bargaining when both sides prepared for a strike neither wanted, Guild members were fully mobilized in support of their bargaining committee and were prepared to do whatever necessary to get a quality contract. Examples of their commitment to the bargaining committee positions was this week's photographers' byline strike and a petition signed by about 150 Guild members calling for a contract rejection if the prohibition of reporters acting as photographers was removed without adequate safeguards.

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