Develop a plan now to address Department of Labor's proposed overtime rule 8/19/19

By L. Michael Zinser, The Zinser Law Firm

The U.S. Department of Labor's rule to increase the salary threshold for the overtime exemption of executive, administrative and professional employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act has not yet been finalized.

The March 7 proposed rule was open for comments for a 60-day period. The Department of Labor received more than 116,000 public comments. The Department of Labor sent its final draft of the rule to the White House and the Office of Management and Budget on Aug. 12. The text of the final rule has not been made public.

When the final rule is published with an effective date, many expect unions and worker advocates to mount legal challenges to the rule. Even though the final rule may be challenged, it would be wise to be developing a plan now to address this huge budgetary issue.

This column focuses on the standard salary threshold, which will have the most dramatic impact on your company, and offers an action plan to address the standard salary threshold increase.

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SNPA / Inland Merger: Looking ahead to preserving and promoting First Amendment values 8/5/19

By John Bussian, The Bussian Law Firm

As we celebrate joining together SNPA and Inland, it is worth at least a moment to honor the first principles of the newspaper industry that gave rise to both groups. And those, without a doubt, are freedom of the press and the parallel right to know and to distribute news.

Honoring those principles requires some reflection on the industry's singular role in building America's First Amendment foundation. And it is safe to say that SNPA's and Inland's member newspapers can fairly take credit for shaping the free speech and free press tradition of the republic like no other industry and, for that matter, like no other country on earth.

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Deal activity stays strong 7/16/19

Daily newspapers continued to change hands at a brisk pace in the first half of 2019, largely driven by the sale of family-owned titles.

In total, 32 daily newspapers were sold or agreed to be sold in the first six months of the year, more than the number of dailies involved in transactions during the same period last year.

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NLRB General Counsel: Uber drivers are independent 7/9/19

By L. Michael Zinser, The Zinser Law Firm

The Division of Advice within the NLRB general counsel's office recently issued a memorandum describing why it believed Uber drivers should be considered independent contractors, not employees for purposes of the National Labor Relations Act. For that reason, charges filed by Uber drivers were dismissed.

The general counsel believed the Uber drivers to be independent contractors for two key reasons.

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Association boards approve plan to consolidate SNPA and Inland 6/5/19

In concurrent board meetings held Wednesday, June 5, directors of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association (SNPA) and the Inland Press Association unanimously approved a plan to consolidate the two associations, effective October 1.

Details of the plan approved by the two boards will be sent to members of both associations on June 7 for their consideration and vote. The result of the member balloting is expected to be announced on June 28.

The consolidated association is crafted to be the champion of the newspaper industry and a proactive voice that promotes the value and contributions of newspapers to the communities that they serve.

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How's your printing? 6/4/19

By Jane Nicholes, SNPA Correspondent

Judging newspaper print quality isn't a subjective undertaking but a matter of determining how well a paper meets a set of industry standards, according to Kevin Conner, quality assurance manager for The Washington Post.

"The key always rests on ink density and color registration. Those are the key components," he said.

Contest entrants with SNPA's annual Print Quality Contest are evaluated on how closely they meet the standards of SNAP, Specifications for Newsprint Advertising Production. These can be measured objectively with tools such as a densitometer for ink density.

Conner has chaired the SNPA contest for 15 years. Conner said SNAP standards not only make for a fair and objective contest, they offer individual publishers a way to judge for themselves how well their printers are doing the job.

A state-of-the-art printing press certainly helps, but the skills needed to make any press perform are paramount.

"No 1, know how to set ink and water balance correctly," Conner said. "No. 2, color registration: Be able to keep all the color pages in perfect register.

"And then, something that's kind of an intangible but extremely important: You need to have a press that's well maintained. These are the factors that are behind good printing. You have a workforce of highly skilled press operators who know their jobs inside and out."

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Mississippi Employment Security Department backs off 5/6/19

By L. Michael Zinser, The Zinser Law Firm

Very recently, a daily newspaper in Tupelo, Miss., received a determination from the Mississippi Employment Security Department that its newspaper carriers are employees. The decision totally ignores the exclusion granted by the legislature in 2012. Needless to say, the newspaper vigorously protested, appealed this determination, emphasizing the provision. The State of Mississippi backed off completely, agreeing that the newspaper carriers are not eligible for benefits and the publishing company is not liable for unemployment taxes or payments made to newspaper carriers.

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U.S. Department of Labor proposes new overtime rule 3/11/19

By L. Michael Zinser, The Zinser Law Firm

This writer and many others predicted that the Department of Labor, under the leadership of Secretary Acosta would publish a new proposed rule in March 2019. The new proposed rule would increase the salary level threshold that must be met in order to be overtime exempt under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

The new proposed rule, announced March 7, will increase that threshold from $23,660 per year (or $455 per week) to $35,308 per year (or $679 per week). This new threshold is far less than the threshold proposed by the Obama administration that was permanently enjoined nationwide by a federal court in Texas.

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New NLRB overrules Obama-era NLRB independent contractor precedent 1/29/19

By L. Michael Zinser, The Zinser Law Firm

On Jan. 25, the National Labor Relations Board, in a three-to-one decision, ruled that Super Shuttle drivers at the Dallas Fort Worth Airport were independent contractors and not employees.

This case is especially good news for the newspaper industry. The board in the new Super Shuttle case specifically referenced its decision in St. Joseph News-Press, a 2005 decision. In that decision, the NLRB found that home delivery carriers, single copy carriers and bundle haulers were all independent contractors.

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There is still time to participate in the SNPA Salary Survey 1/22/19

SNPA will continue to accept questionnaires for the SNPA Salary Survey through the end of this week.

This tool for daily newspapers helps them benchmark their salaries against those of other SNPA member newspapers.

All SNPA daily newspaper members are encouraged to take part in the survey, which includes job listings and several additional introductory questions – all designed to give you better data with which to evaluate your compensation plan.

Download the survey questionnaire (Excel file)

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