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Union, SF Chronicle reach agreement

SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Chronicle and the union representing about 900 employees have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract that includes worker concessions, but no immediate layoffs.

Management will offer 120 employees buyouts, including a year of health benefits, Michael Cabanatuan, president of the Northern California Media Guild, said Sunday. Cabanatuan, a reporter, said he doesn't foresee layoffs as long as 120 employees agree to leave.

"We think there will be a great deal of interest in the buyout offer," he said. If not, there will be involuntary terminations, union officials said.

Guild members have been working under a contract that expired June 30. The new five-year contract, which would take effect once it's ratified, includes a prohibition of strikes.

Union members will vote Wednesday on the proposal.

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A pay freeze that has been in place since the beginning of the year will end in January for journalists and outside salespersons. But roughly 40 percent of Guild members at the paper will see immediate pay cuts, Cabanatuan said.

In January, all Guild members will begin to receive an 11-percent salary increase spread over the remainder of the contract. The company will pay more toward health insurance and the employee pension plan, union officials said, but all Guild employees will lose a week of vacation, have their annual sick days cut to five from 10, and see fewer opportunities to work part time.

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