Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'Sun' of Baltimore Seeks New Reporter-Photog Position in Next Contract

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'Sun' of Baltimore Seeks New Reporter-Photog Position in Next Contract

Article excerpt

Keeping true to their promise of seeking flexibility among workers in the latest Newspaper Guild contract talks, negotiators at The Sun in Baltimore are asking the union to allow combined reporter-photographer positions; eliminate a cap on annual cost-sharing increases for health benefits; and make union membership optional, The Sun reported.

The proposal came about during the first negotiation session Wednesday with the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, which represents about 480 of the paper's 1,250 employees. Both sides are seeking a contract to replace the current four-year agreement that ends June 24.

Guild leaders, meanwhile, sought unspecified salary increases; limits on medical fees and future job cuts, as well as the elimination of a merit pay system that was instituted with the most recent contract, the paper reported.

Negotiators on both sides have admitted some uneasiness as these mark the first talks since a bitter labor battle, which brought negotiations within hours of a strike before a deal was reached, occurred in 2003.

Negotiations are taking place as The Tribune Co., which owns The Sun, completes a sale of itself to Chicago billionaire Sam Zell. The paper also is offering a buyout aimed at reducing staff by 145 people, including 50 in the newsroom.

Although Guild leaders contend they are going into talks with a positive approach to avoid a job action, they claim that a strike threat is never off the table.

"It is definitely possible,"Cet Parks, chief negotiator for the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild told E&P Wednesday. …

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