At Bleeding Newspaper, Management Has Its Way With Union

You know when a labor union is proposing to eliminate paid vacation and cut pay 5 percent, things will not end well for workers. So it is at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Northern California's dominant daily loses $50 million per year, give or take a few million, and owner Hearst is threatening to shut it down. So it should come as little surprise that management's demands pretty much mirror the tentative "agreement" reached late Monday.

Chronicle bosses sought in contract renegotiation the right to fire people without regard for seniority and to slash "vacation, sick time, and maternity/paternity leave" and to "outsource some jobs to nonunionized employees."

What did they get? The "ability to lay off employees without regard to seniority... reductions in vacation time, sick leave and maternity/paternity leave... and the right for the company to subcontract any work," according to the Guild.

The silver lining, for employees: two weeks of severance for every year of service.

Even assuming the deal is approved by union members, it only clears the way for more questions about the paper. How many layoffs? Will management be able to win similar concessions from its Teamsters local? Will it eventually demand still more concessions from a union that (we're told) at one point in recent negotiations offered to replace vacation with unpaid leave and cut paychecks?

Increasingly, though, the finer points of contract clauses and benefits are obscured by the bigger question of whether the most internet-addled bunch of readers in the country can support a large metro daily at all. Chronicle staffers won't be the only ones intensely curious about the answer.