Bargaining & Settlements – Bytes & bits: Kenosha

Wage Parity in Kenosha

Kenosha Newspaper Guild negotiators had a mandate when they began bargaining with management at the Kenosha News: Members wanted wage parity.

They wanted an end to pay rates that were extremely out-of-date and that had little relationship to their experience. When bargaining began, wages had not been increased in more than a decade, and weekly pay for employees doing the same jobs often differed by more than $100.

Despite a difficult bargaining environment, union negotiators made substantial progress on parity, in exchange for give backs in vacation, severance, shift differentials, and overtime pay.

The pay scales were modified to add another year of experience and $140 to the weekly top minimum rate, an increase of 17.5 percent, with all 26 newsroom employees receiving wage increases or lump sum bonuses.

The Guild team — comprised mostly of first-time negotiators — retained many benefits the employer had proposed to cut. Members of the newsroom-only unit ratified the two-year contract on March 29.