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The blue-collar Star Tribune cuts are the deepest

The Teamsters for a Democratic Union site tdu.org has been a go-to point for information about the blue-collar side of Star Tribune labor cuts. Today — in addition to the professionally drawn cartoon above — the site details the concessions that owners Avista Capital Partners tried and failed to get.

Management has said a rejection would mean "court-supervised restructuring." Their proposal is probably what they'd seek in bankruptcy. TDU notes these provisions:

♦ For pressmen, a 13 percent wage cut, plus clawing back a buck-an-hour hike Teamsters took in December and eliminating another $1-an-hour later this year. Health benefits, now 80/20, would be "nearly a 50/50 split." The workforce would be cut from 92 to 76; the union had 111 members just a few months ago.

♦ Mailers' pay would have been cut from $25 to $15 an hour — or about $50,000 a year to $30,000.

♦ As previously reported, drivers' pay would fall from $27.10 to $18.50 an hour. "It would cut my pay 32 percent, from $53,700 to $36,500," longtime driver Rick Sather tells the site. "It breaks the union when those jobs are replaced by $13-an-hour part-time workers who get no benefits."

I've written a bunch about the newsroom cuts, but it seems pretty clear the Strib sees bigger savings whacking anyone whose job is tied solely to the physical paper. The Teamsters are being asked to take more sizable reductions, and have resisted more fiercely; for example, they rejected summertime concessions the newsroom accepted.

That steadfast refusal could make the Teamsters more vulnerable in court; TDU paints management's insistance on big cuts as "just going through the motions in an attempt to persuade a bankruptcy judge that it tried to reach an agreement."

As I've noted before, labor now feels they have little more to lose in Chapter 11. It's a hell of a dice roll.

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Comments (7)

Unfortunately, I'd expect it only to get worse for those tied to the paper...um...paper.

What's more unfortunate is that the management appears to be handling its issues by squeezing everyone, rather than restructuring the business of the paper around some sort of sustainable business model. If there was a plan, perhaps some jobs could be saved.

"It would cut my pay 32 percent, from $53,700 to $36,500," longtime driver Rick Sather tells the site. "It breaks the union when those jobs are replaced by $13-an-hour part-time workers who get no benefits."

An electrical engineer starts at about $50k a year after 4 years of college. After ten years of 50-60 hour work weeks, and hundreds of hours of continuing education the engineer can look forward to be making about $75k...continuing education and a background of successes will, someday allow him to earn a very comfortable salary somewhere in the $90-100k range.

Our truck driver graduates high school(?) and jumps into the drivers seat for the next 30 years, expecting 3% annual raises.

I hate to see anyone lose their jobs, but what part of being able to effortlessly find a $13\hour replacement does Mr. Sather not understand?

His story is one (of many) beef's I have with unions. I have no reason not to believe that Sather is not a perfectly intelligent guy. But because he's been receiving a very generous salary over the past (?) years, he's had absolutely no incentive to improve his skills portfolio.

And now that the bottom has fallen out of the $50k a year news delivery business, he's out of luck.

Has he failed to take note of the fact that unions are going the way of the Dodo? And at what point in our lives to we become responsible for our own destiny's?

I agree with some of your points even though I don't think your name is Tom Swift. Meanwhile back at the ranch where workers get to gore each other for fun. Rich inheritors can get 3 to 4 million tax free and pay 40% on the rest while most workers get taxed at approximately 33%. But never got 3 to 4 million for not working while they do a lot of the production. The long war against labor will never be over and it is a war. Target and Best Buy will pony up to a fund of 10 million to lobby against canadian style union authorization card checks as they don't want retail workers to have the benefits of a union. Read today's Wall Street Journal. Also it is getting to the point where the only unionized forces left are for those with college educations in nursing and teaching.

Where does that vulture graphic come from? It looks a lot like a Steve Sack drawing. Did he get a buyout? He appears to still be drawing for the Strib.

"Target and Best Buy will pony up to a fund of 10 million to lobby against canadian style union authorization card checks as they don't want retail workers to have the benefits of a union."

Right. So in "X" years we'll be reading stories from out-of-work cashiers that sat on their union cards instead of getting on with their educations.

"Also it is getting to the point where the only unionized forces left are for those with college educations in nursing and teaching."

Yes, there and in that last refuge of the feckless; government.

We have seen what unionization of teachers has wrought in the public school system. But despite the election of a solid Democrat majority in many levels of government, there is some reason to hope the NEA's stranglehold over this country's kids might be nearing, if not an end, a severe reduction in scope.

It comes as no surprise that stakeholders have tired of getting fleeced in return for lip service, and are actively taking matters (aka: our kids) into our own hands.

I never quite understood how the nurses union got off the ground, one could suppose some sort of "card check" was in play, although I do not know that.

Those MAPE and AFSCME stalwarts manning the desks and counters of public sector offices are in for a rather rude awakening as well.

Given the absolute non-factor their last few strikes have amounted to, these folks had better show better sense than our newpaper delivery driver or we could very well see "self-service" lanes in many government offices.

*oh, snap*

White collar workers always give me a good chuckle when they trash the unions. I've never figured out how it is they're so certain they're doing better now than they would in a more unionized society.

Engineers are largely underpaid. They are not underpaid because _some_ truck drivers make a living wage, engineers are underpaid because senior executives overcompensate themselves and because corporate boards loot companies and pay out too much to stockholders. As a result the actual workers get paid less.

Who sets pay levels in the U.S. Why oddly enough, it's the very same executives who overpay themselves. Who does all the work? More oddly still, the work is done by the people whose pay never goes up and whose job descriptions get longer after each and every layoff.

Since Reagan got elected American workers have increased their productivity EACH AND EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Their pay, sadly, has barely kept up with inflation. This despite the fact that logically you would expect more productive workers to get paid more. In the U.S. they don't because of a culture of narcissistic management that truly believes all profits spring forth from their foreheads much as Zeus gave birth to the lesser gods.

The Strib and other daily newspapers could provide jobs for another generation of workers if they wished to, but instead they've taken the attitude that they must have 20% profit margins, and they'll bleed themselves to death before they do with less.

What kind of idiots buy newspapers knowing that the printing press is near extinction? Answer: the same kind of overpaid idiots who drove our economy into the ditch over the past quarter century.

If the salvation of America can only be achieved by screwing truck drivers, maybe it's time to let Castro invade to save us from ourselves. Communism is a bit puritanical for my tastes, but anything would have to be better than still more decades of mindless consumerism by Americans who seemingly live to create landfills. All these years we could have been building Macs and Volvos, but instead we focused on $500 Dell PCs and gas-gulping SUVs, leaving us with a society that in retrospect apparently peaked during the Age of Disco.

Mark I agree with many of your points. I am just letting you know that you should now expect to get right wing talking points thrown at you. Phrases like dodo bird, big government is bad, blah blah blah blah blah. I think the moderators could moderate but its a tricky issue. The right wing has developed talking points and rhetoric which is as compelling as the gospel for their adherents.