Cocktail party June 19

Fete the winners of the first annual Freelance Journalism Awards, enjoy the company of comrades, and support an excellent cause at the Freelance Awards Party, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 19 at Delancey Street restaurant, Embarcadero at Brannan in the City. Emceed by the Chron’s Joe Garofoli and Kevin Fagan. Plentiful tapas, open bar. $15, $5 for students. RSVP

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Freelance Awards update

The entries in our Freelance Journalism Awards contest were many and of a sterling quality, and the judges have requested more time to give each entry its due. We have moved the judging deadline to May 23 and the awards party to June. Watch this space for details and updates!

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Monterey seeks a fair shake

Monterey Herald

By Richard Knee
Vice President, California
Pacific Media Workers Guild

Smaller paychecks, a bigger share of health care costs, and fewer writers and editors in the newsroom. That’s been the story at the Monterey Herald for too long, but the cutbacks and givebacks that have gutted one of Northern California’s best community dailies didn’t go far enough to suit the paper’s billionaire owner, Randall Smith.

Smith and Herald publisher Gary Omernick are not only demanding even more pay and benefit sacrifices but also shredding the paper’s already ultra-lean staff and news coverage, through layoffs and outsourcing.

At the moment, contract talks between the Herald and the Pacific Media Workers Guild are at a standstill, says Herald bargaining unit Chair Phillip Molnar. “I’m not sure it is an official stalemate. Just neither side has called for another bargaining session. That is fine with us because our current contract is still in place,” Molnar said in late April.

Management’s slash-and-burn strategy

In an article on the Guild’s Web site Molnar writes that the company brass proposes to “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,” the story says. “In the three years before that, base pay increased by 1 percent annually but (that gain) was offset by two-week-long unpaid furloughs and an increase in the employee share of medical premiums.”

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