Way to retain the mystery, Guild.

At a scheduled CA Media Worker’s Guild meeting today, members voted 333 for to 33 against to ratify the Hearst-demanded changes to their current contract, which expires next year. That means they’re accepting Hearst’s conditions including, most significantly, a loss of up to 150 Guild positions.

As you can see from this screen shot of their page announcing the results of the vote, someone is vowing to start a search for…something. A new job? A winning lottery ticket? A savior for what’s left of the paper?

We’ve included the entire text of the message sent to Guild members below as, at publication time, it was incompletely published to the Guild site.

From: Linda Frediani
Date: Sat, Mar 14, 2009 at 4:49 PM
Subject: Guild Members Ratify Contract Amendments

Members of the San Francisco Chronicle Unit voted today by a 10-to-1 margin in favor of ratifying proposed amendments to the collective bargaining agreement designed to help avoid sale or closure of the newspaper.

The Guild Elections Committee announced that 366 members cast ballots, either in person or absentee, 333 for ratification, 33 against.

The vote results were announced following an emotional meeting at the Parc 55 Hotel in downtown San Francisco. Members repeatedly declared their love of the Chronicle and desire to work through the disastrous economic situation now engulfing the industry.

Guild leaders negotiated up to a year’s pay and health care for anyone losing his or her job – layoffs and buyouts are expected to claim at least 150 Guild jobs during the weeks ahead. The severance package was perhaps the main reason for the lopsided vote in favor of the amendments.

Hearst Corp., owners of the Chronicle, also agreed to divert a January pay increase into the Guild health plan, and softened other demands for pay or benefit concessions during an intense 10-day negotiation that led to Saturday’s vote.

Other provisions in the package as approved wipe away seniority protection against job loss, reduce vacation and sick leave, lengthen the workday and tighten arbitration provisions.

Guild Sector President Bernie Lunzer attended the meeting, and participated during the ctitical final hours of the negotiations process. He spoke to the members on Saturday, when he delivered word that the union’s national leadership would allow the California local to sign the amendments – despite reservations that focused mainly on the arbitration provisions.

Michael Cabanatuan, local president and a reporter at the Chronicle, told reporters after the meeting that the next few weeks would be “a time of sadness,” but that the Guild intended to move on toward a real solution to the troubles facing journalism.

Carl Hall, lead negotiator, said the outcome demonstrated a clear-eyed attitude among Guild members concerned about protecting, as best we can, the interests of members and their families facing job loss.

“This is the start of the real battle,” he said. “We have to find a solution, a real solution, to save what we really care about here – quality journalism and qualify jobs.”

California Media Workers Guild
433 Natoma St., San Francisco
(415) 421-6833, www.mediaworkers.org

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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