Writers Guild staff okays 3-year contract with 2% annual raises


The staff of the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), which is represented by the Newspaper Guild of New York, ratified a three-year contract on April 9. The new contract raises WGAE employee’s pay by 2 percent in each of its three years, for the first time establishes minimum pay scales for all job groups and includes a dollar-for-dollar 401(k) match on the first 1 percent of employee earnings that takes effect on March 1, 2012. Because of the introduction of minimum pay scales, 12 of the 16 Newspaper Guild-covered employees of the union will receive pay increases over the life of the contract ranging from 6.6 percent to 24 percent.

The contract was ratified by a vote of 15-to-0, with one abstention. On the management side, it still needs to be approved by the WGAE’s governing Council.

Other improvements in the agreement, which is retroactive to March 1, include:

         -- A short-term disability plan that for the first time provides for 60 percent of pay for up to 26 weeks.

         -- Pregnancy leave of up to 26 weeks, with at least six weeks paid under the short-term disability plan.

         -- A $50 reimbursement for cell phone expenses for employees who work outside of the office.

         -- An improved vacation accrual schedule that provides for time off sooner.

         -- Employees’ three annual personal days will be awarded at the beginning of the year, instead of being accrued throughout the year.

         -- Clear contract language that employees cannot be dismissed without “just cause.”

         -- Reduced trial periods for newly hired employees.

The Newspaper Guild negotiating committee consisted of Elaine Lindsay, Geoff Betts, Tim Tharp and Newspaper Guild Local Representative Anthony Napoli.

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