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Copy Editors of the World, Untie! Err, Unite! (Monterey County Herald)
by via MoCo Weekly
Saturday Mar 29th, 2014 11:37 AM
Copy Editors of the World, Untie! Err, Unite!…When Squid caught wind of what’s going on at The Monterey County Herald—with layoffs coming and consolidations afoot—sorrowful ink dribbles from Squid’s large eye. Too many good people and good journalists deserve better, as does a dynamic community with way too many good stories left untold—and way too many governments, councils and commissions left unwatched.
Squid grew even more teary when one Herald staff writer acknowledged the atmosphere at the paper is the worst it’s been in decades.

“Morale is at an all-time low, the company keeps jacking people around, nobody really knows what's going on or what they'll be doing when all this comes down in March,” says the Heraldite, who asked to remain anonymous lest, you know, he or she gets wished into the Chico cornfield that’s going to function as the nerve center for the whole Digital First Media empire.

(To which Squid says, “Chico? Seriously? That’s where you’re putting the brain trust?”)

According to a piece in last Sunday’s Herald titled “Get ready for a new look Herald” by Editor Royal Calkins (who nearly had to go into witness protection after getting rid of comics like “Sally Forth” and “Squid Row”—no relation—but saved face by bringing back the ever-popular Jumble), the paper’s production, from the page layout to the headline writing, will be done at the Digital First paper in Chico, along with the production of the other 11 Digital First dailies.

As a result, at least four jobs (but could be five, Calkins writes) at the Herald are going to be eliminated. But those copy editors and paginators who are being canned will be invited to apply for similar positions on the expanded copy desk. In Chico.

According to Virginia Hennessey, the paper’s ace courts reporter, a 21-year Herald veteran and the Pacific Media Workers Guild’s unit secretary, those newfangled Chico jobs will be both lower paid and non-union. (The Guild is currently in the middle of negotiations with the company.)

"The Pacific Media Workers Guild of the Monterey County Herald understands the troubled nature of our industry and respects management's efforts to remain financially viable. Yet we strongly disagree with the decision to lay off five of our fellow employees who have dedicated many years of service to the company,” Hennessy wrote in an emailed response to questions. “These layoffs follow around seven in the pressroom and probably a dozen or more at the Herald in recent years. We believe our readers deserve a newspaper edited and produced by people who live and work in their community. In our opinion, cutting their jobs for much lower paid, non-union jobs in Chico does not represent a long-term investment in Monterey's historic daily newspaper."

And says the anonymous source: “One of the guys who got laid off has already taken another job and the other four are waiting for the other shoe to drop. The company's attitude is basically, ‘Just shut up and be thankful you have a job.’”

Also according to the source, while the five are getting the proverbial axe in March, certain Herald functions will also merge with the Santa Cruz Sentinel (their publisher and ad sales director are already working both papers). All this trimming will result in the launch of a joint Santa Cruz-Monterey entertainment website called The Muse Monterey Bay.

Squid wonders: Is the Herald as Squid knows it going to be around in another year? Or will Squid be forced to ooze on over to Chico to get news too? With the Sierra Nevada beer empire being headquartered there, at least the copyeditors, paginators and Squid can look forward to some brewskis.


via Extra Helping of Squid: 1.27.14
by via Pacific Media Workers Guilld
Saturday Mar 29th, 2014 11:40 AM
Photo: Guild members (l to r) Lucia Fernandez, Paul Hersh, Phillip Molnar, Claudia Melendez Salinas and James Herrera turned in the signatures to publisher Gary Omernick. Photo courtesy Guild member 2014.

Phillip Molnar
February 4, 2014

Guild members of the Monterey County Herald delivered a petition asking for a fair pay increase and a reasonable cap on what employees pay for health care to publisher Gary Omernick on Monday.

The petition was signed by 38 employees, or 82 percent of guild members, and came from all departments: packaging, newsroom, circulation and advertising.

The union has been extremely fired up lately, frustrated by company proposals that would freeze pay for 18 months and eliminate the cap on what employees pay for medical insurance.

Members’ base pay has been frozen for more than three years, during which it was forced to take two week-long unpaid furloughs — a loss of roughly 4 percent of take-home pay. In the three years before that, base pay increased by 1 percent annually, but was offset by two week-long unpaid furloughs and an increase in the employee share of medical premiums.

With the petition, the guild wants to show Mr. Omernick and Alden Global Capital how many Herald employees are committed to achieving a fair contract at the still-profitable newspaper.

The company recently announced it would lay off five copy editors in favor of outsourcing the work to low-wage, non-union jobs in Chico, Calif.

The Herald employees believe the Monterey County community deserves an excellent newspaper edited, reported and designed by local workers — not an operation continually beset by layoffs at the discretion of a Manhattan finance officer.

With this petition, the Guild hopes Mr. Omernick will take to heart its proposal for 3-percent raises each year for the next three years, health care premium costs capped at 34 percent, and severance pay of two weeks’ pay per year of total service up to 30 weeks.

Negotiations with the company continue Friday.
by quick update
Wednesday Apr 2nd, 2014 1:45 PM
Just a quick update:
- They sold our building for half of what it was worth.
- Fired our co-workers so our news could be produced in a centralized hub.
- Our publisher claims he still doesn't know where or when we (or if!) we will move into a new building.
- Meanwhile, the company that owns us is almost certainly going to put us up for sale (see link below).
- Unbelievable.