The Newspaper Guild of New York said that it is making "some progress in mediation" with the New York Times, but "significant differences" remain between the two sides.
Times staffers and the paper's management entered mediation last week to help break the deadlock in contract talks. Mediator Martin Scheinman was brought in after employees staged a brief walkout and representatives for the company later walked out of a negotiation session.
In a memo obtained by The Huffington Post, the Guild told staffers that "some progress has been made on several items including some involving the integration of the newspaper and digital staff." It added, "However, there is still much work to be done in tackling the biggest issues, including wages, retirement, the health plan funding and job security."
Wages and employee pension have been two of the biggest sticking points in the negotiations, which have run on for over eighteen months. The renewed process, according to Wednesday's memo, has focused on the employee health care plan thus far. The Guild said that mediation has helped both sides communicate "more effectively," and that it "continues to be cautiously optimistic" about reaching a deal.
Previously, Guild president Bill O'Meara predicted that a settlement would happen by November, if at all. The reason, he said, was that the groundwork for the 2013 pension plan would have to start in the fall.
Below, read the full text of the Guild's memo to staffers:
October 17, 2012
SOME PROGRESS IN MEDIATION,
BUT SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES REMAIN
As you no doubt are aware, the Guild and The Times have entered into mediation over our current contract talks. The mediation process began last week before Martin Scheinman, the mediator suggested by the Guild because of his strong background and reputation in helping to achieve resolutions in difficult disputes.
Mr. Scheinman has spent several hours getting to know the issues that separate the Guild and management. From the Guild’s point of view, we believe that he already has a good understanding of most, if not all, of the proposals each side has on the bargaining table.
A great deal of time has been spent examining the details of the Guild health plan and its funding requirements. The Plan administrator and accountant have attended a session to provide vital, up-to-date information. The Guild’s actuary has been on hand to provide projections and analysis.
The mediator has also helped Guild and company representatives communicate with each other more effectively, and to that end, some progress has been made on several items including some involving the integration of the newspaper and digital staff. However, there is still much work to be done in tackling the biggest issues, including wages, retirement, the health plan funding and job security.
At this point, the Guild continues to be cautiously optimistic that Scheinman can help us to overcome the significant hurdles that remain. However, there is no guarantee.
We will keep you informed.