The Washington Post

Village Voice strike: Benefits to fight for

More information on why Village Voice workers are intent on fighting management: They get great health benefits.

Get ready: Village Voice Media is paying 100 percent of its employees’ monthly health premiums. Says Village Voice staffer Graham Rayman: “Union members don’t currently contribute out of their paychecks, but they do pay co-pays and deductibles of course.”

How does that deal stack up against industry standards? Take it away, Karla Zander, HR research manager of the Inland Press Association. One hundred and eight newspaper companies, according to Zander, were polled on this very question, and here’s how the premium contributions stack up, by plan.

PPO: employers pay average of 71.9 percent of the premiums

HMO: employers pay average of 74.6 percent of the premiums

POS: employers pay average of 78.2 percent of the premiums

The figures place Village Voice staffers in the gilded fringe of newspaper employees, at least with respect to health care. Depending on your politics, you may view this fact as one of the following:

1) Evidence that Village Voicers should hug their employers.

2) Evidence that the union’s triennial threats and tough talk have done wonders for the staff’s quality of life and that more newspapers should unionize.

3) Evidence that Village Voice owners over the years — Rupert Murdoch included — have been generous, humane individuals and that the current ownership is looking to fall in line with greedy peers.

The Voice dispute features a little intersection of money and politics as well. Rayman: “Despite our editorial support of gay marriage and domestic partner benefits, and despite the fact that the Voice was one of the first companies to give domestic partner benefits to employees, the company is also refusing in the negotiations to pay the tax on health insurance for domestic partners.”

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.

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