Mind you, this is not happening at the moment — but shows Star Tribune management plans ahead.
The paper filed its new labor agreement (PDF) with the mailers’ union Monday. It’s your basic cramdown — workers who assemble and prepare papers for delivery will absorb pay cuts of 16-28 percent, with 23 layoffs to boot. New hires and current part-timers will make $12.50 an hour. According to the bankruptcy court filing, ownership estimates it will save $3.3 million annually.
The interesting part comes in a section on “manning,” which establishes crew sizes for any given shift. Management has long chafed under what it sees as contractually obligated over-staffing; the deal not only does away with that, it builds in several scenarios for further reducing crews.
Among the more likely triggers: a 5 percent (or more) circulation drop from September 2008, or a similar drop in advertising inserts. But at the bottom of the list is this:
“f. A reduction in the number of days per week the Star Tribune is published on a regular ongoing basis.”
Considering that the filing came on the day the Detroit News and Free Press stopped daily home delivery, it shouldn’t be too shocking that the Strib included this contingency. And yet, it’s still depressing to see it there in black and white.