Angered by Proposed Health Plan, San Francisco Chronicle Staffers Staging Social Media Protest

It’s been a herky-jerky month for Hearst Corporation. It began with the theatrical roll out of a very good 125th anniversary documentary; continued with a salacious sex scandal involving Scott Sassa; and is now ending with an angry Twitter and Facebook protest by employees at a flagship publication.

Reporters, editors and other workers at the San Francisco Chronicle are using the twin social media powerhouses to register their displeasure at Hearst’s desire to shift to a new health insurance plan that they say will dramatically increase costs. For some, this means changing their Twitter avatar to a red box; for others, it’s a matter of re-tweeting. And here’s how the open letter on Facebook begins:

We, the employees of the San Francisco Chronicle, have had enough.

We love this newspaper, and we’ve worked hard since the layoffs of 2009 to help keep it afloat. We’ve done everything Hearst demanded: sacrificing pay raises, giving up seniority, losing vacation time and holidays, even working through what used to be our paid lunch hour.

For years, we’ve been working twice as hard with a smaller staff — doing everything needed to keep this paper afloat, relevant and great.

And this is how the highly profitable Hearst Corporation pays us back.

The employees suggest that the new health plan is the equivalent of a pay cut amounting to up to $3,000 per year. At press time, the Facebook item was approaching 600 likes. Another timing element that is exacerbating the employee feelings is this week’s launch of a $14.99-per-month premium-content paywall across many Hearst properties.

More information on this cause and the lack of a current contract via the Pacific Media Workers Guild website, here and here. A rep tells FishbowlLA the new health plan is not at this point slated to go into effect, as union members have no interest in ratifying a contract with such a conjoined proposal. However, if it’s decided that workers will go into the Hearst benefits system in some way, that would likely take effect beginning January 1, 2014