Chronicle Scribes' Secret Weapon in Union Negotiations: Essays

Categories: Labor, Media
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Will longtime reporters' essays make a dent with management?
Over the past several years, multiple writers for the ever-shrinking San Francisco Chronicle have told us they felt like rats in a snake's cage. The paper is now thin enough to fit comfortably in your back pocket -- and its staff is just a fraction of what it was even a few years back.

Recent union deals with the paper's editorial staff have resulted in serious concessions -- and plenty of layoffs, buyouts, and general tossing overboard of items not nailed to the deck. With contract negotiations under way again, Media Workers Guild representative Carl T. Hall tells us his side has an interesting new ploy to move the hard-hearted Hearst Corp. management types: essays from veteran Chron staffers.

The first "testimonial" is by veteran Chron reporter Carl Nolte -- who has been at the paper since it was printed on parchment and called Ye Olde San Francisco Chronicle. Nolte points out that Chron writers and editors are far outearned by prison guards.

How this will affect the bargaining position of a management team that essentially threatened to close down the paper in order to push through a draconian contract remains to be seen.

In the next several days, essays by Chron regulars Leah Garchik, Tom Abate, and others will go live on the Guild website. Also coming: A pro-union essay by staff conservative Debra Saunders. Really.

"She's been a supporter of the union for some time -- and active member and former shop steward," says Nolte. "She's quite an interesting person all the way around -- though her columns may or may not always appeal to people."

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