August 10, 2016

Richly Diverse And Fairly Rewarded?

IAPE members — a brief bargaining session yesterday saw IAPE offer two new proposals: the latest in the "selected issues" back and forth, and a new Union proposal for protections against healthcare cost increases.

Dow Jones CEO, William Lewis

Perhaps more notable than our latest bargaining session was yesterday's note to staff from Will Lewis, announcing News Corp's Fiscal 2016 earnings, and reflecting on "recent achievements."

You know the story: circulation is up, U.S. advertising is down, we need to be vigilant on costs, PIB is "flourishing."

"Our achievements are a direct result of the skill, creativity, passion and dedication of our employees — for which I am immensely grateful," Mr. Lewis said. "As CEO, I will continue to strive to ensure Dow Jones is staffed by a highly engaged, richly diverse and fairly rewarded group of people."

(Emphasis is ours.)

We know we're highly engaged. Seems like Mr. Lewis still has a long way to go to ensure we're richly diverse and fairly rewarded.

Like we've said before, Mr. Lewis: everybody needs a goal.

So, back to yesterday's bargaining session: very little to report on either of our proposals. We now have agreements on notice for schedule changes (two weeks' notice in advance of a change in regular working hours), volunteer layoff letters (the Union will now distribute) and bridge in service (employees rehired within one month will keep their original hire dates — eliminating an obstacle we believe exists now in rehiring employees laid off from Dow Jones).

We have accepted the Company's proposal to not compensate overtime exempt employees when they choose to travel on scheduled days off for the sake of their own convenience. But for required SDO travel, we believe travel time should be paid the same as work time. The Company's current position goes something like this: travel isn't work, travel is travel.

We suspect our members who frequently spend their weekends on the roads and rails or in the air might have a different view of travel time.

On Holiday Pay, we believe a change to the current language is necessary. When an employee is assigned work on a holiday, employees receive time-and-one-half for their regular hours (double-time for extra hours) and either another day off or a day's pay at the Company's discretion. We believe the employee should have the right to choose time off or extra pay. We noted one group of eight reporters who currently have a bank of 60 comp days left this year — extra time off is of no use to those employees.

The Company better understands our position, but says they are reluctant to take the decision "out of the budget holders' hands."

Our latest healthcare proposal is the product of recent discussions with Dow Jones, and how they've said they envision healthcare costs increasing through 2019. With those discussions in mind, but also with an eye toward protections against premium increases and runaway cost increases, we have presented the Company with what we believe is a reasonable solution — so long as we are also able to achieve real wage increases.

DJ reps told us they needed time to review our proposal and offered no comments yesterday on the specifics of our package.

They did, however, ask why we continue to insist on premium-free healthcare for our members in Canada, and whether we believe the rest of our U.S. members are in favor of that proposal.

We told management that recent cuts to Canadian healthcare coverage are far more severe than (we think) even the Company anticipated. Imposing new medical premiums on members in Canadian cities just because U.S. members also pay premiums makes little sense to us.

Without any business justification for medical premiums in Canada, and given the significantly lower employment costs to the Company — factoring in the difference between the U.S. and Canadian dollar and far lower healthcare expenses for Dow Jones thanks to Canada's publicly funded healthcare system — there is simply no reason for us to entertain extra expenses for our members north of the border.

IAPE and Dow Jones will return to the bargaining table next week, with meetings scheduled for Tuesday and Friday in South Brunswick. Our job title and pay tier subcommittee will also meet on Monday afternoon.

Until then, please continue to send your feedback to our Contract Comments page. And remember Mr. Lewis says, "I am here to listen as well as lead." We're sure he would welcome your bargaining suggestions, too.