September 22, 2023

Thomson Reuters and Union Agree on Tentative Contract

The settlement, covering 430 Guild members, also calls for $7.6 million in cash payments over the three years, largely to cover lost pay since the contract expired in February 2009. That will amount to roughly $17,000 per full-time worker, Guild officials said, with some money going to employees who have left the company.

The deal also settles a complaint that the National Labor Relations Board had said it would file against the company’s news division on numerous issues, among them accusations that it violated a reporter’s right to discuss working conditions when a supervisor reprimanded her for posting a Twitter message that said, “One way to make this the best place to work is to deal honestly with Guild members.”

The author of the post, Deborah Zabarenko, the agency’s environmental reporter in Washington and the head of the Newspaper Guild at Reuters, had sent that message to a company Twitter address after a manager had asked employees to send postings about how to make Reuters the best place to work.

As part of the settlement, which the Guild announced, Thomson Reuters has agreed to negotiate a new social media policy, one that would include language that will protect employees’ speech and right to engage in other concerted activity about working conditions, as provided under federal law.

Stephen J. Adler, Reuters’ new editor in chief, said, “This settlement will allow us to focus all our efforts on producing excellent journalism, which is what we all came here to do.”

In a point sought by management, the deal calls for a guaranteed pool of money for merit raises that is equal to 1 percent of payroll in the contract’s first year. In the subsequent two years, management will use a discretionary merit pay pool for Guild members that is equal to the pool for nonunion employees.

Bill O’Meara, president of the New York Newspaper Guild, said the agreement was reached after a 21-hour negotiating session, aided by a federal mediator. He said a few details remained to be worked out, adding that there would be a ratification vote within 45 days.

He praised Reuters’ management team, saying the arrival of Mr. Adler and Stuart Karle, the new editorial chief operating officer, had made a huge difference in the long-stalled labor talks.

“They changed the whole tone of the negotiations,” Mr. O’Meara said. “They wanted to get it done. Two years of battling was capped in two days of negotiations.”

The settlement provides more flexibility in scheduling workers at short notice — to help deal with large, breaking stories and competitive pressures.

In addition, the company would increase its dollar-for-dollar match for 401(k) accounts to 6 percent of an employee’s pay, up from 4 percent. Moreover, Guild members would pay 18 percent of the cost of health insurance premiums in the contract’s first year, 20 percent in the second year and 22 percent in the third year.

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