Journalists at the San Jose Mercury News will vote this afternoon on a new union contract agreement, while those at its MediaNews sister papers, including the Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times, will vote tomorrow. The Trib and CC Times agreement, tentatively approved by the company and union bargaining team members last Thursday, will be the first contract since the papers merged in 2007. Prior to that, the Trib had a union contract, but the Times was non-union. The agreement sets a minimum pay for full-time reporters at $39,000 a year – a significant improvement over the old Trib contract. Other improvements include better severance pay during layoffs.