Strib to newsroom: take $1.9 million pay cut

Star Tribune management is asking its newsroom to take a collective $1.9 million pay cut, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the plan. That would represent about 9 percent of the newsroom’s roughly $22 million budget.

At this point, the proposal is for compensation only; I guessed the figure would be higher. However, there’s no word if more “savings” will come from buyouts or layoffs. The Strib is seeking a collective $20 million from the newsroom and three Teamsters locals.

So what do the comp changes mean to readers?

The plan would get eliminate or greatly reduce “merit pay,” which management awards above union scale (from $37,128 for rookies to $69,888 for six-plus-year veterans). Assuming merit pay has really gone to the meritorious, the Strib’s best journalists would get the biggest cuts.

I’m told “stars” can get up to a third of their compensation this way. Would they stay? What are the alternatives?

Other facets: a three-year wage freeze, cutting overtime, and reducing or eliminating “night differential,” the $8-$14 per day paid to those working the late shift.

Although the newsroom approved summertime concessions by an overwhelming margin, there seems to be a lot more sentiment to say no this time around, even if it risks bankruptcy. While that puts labor contracts in the hands of a judge — with no promises the current months-old deal will be preserved — some feel having a court sort things out, in public, is preferable to owner Avista Capital Partners’ slow bleed.

Could just be negotiating talk; we’ll see.

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