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Star Tribune newsroom approves concessions

The deal saves Strib management $1.6 million annually, not including pension savings, and at least gets the newsroom past bankruptcy court pressure.
By David Brauer

Newspaper Guild executive officer Mike Bucsko reports that Strib newsroom staffers have approved a concessionary contract. I don’t have a “yes” percentage, but Bucsko says 82 percent of the membership voted.

The deal gives back $1.6 million annually (not including sizable pension savings) toward $20 million in cuts the bankrupt paper seeks from unionized workers. While the deal costs newsroom folks at least 3 percent, some workers getting hit by multiple factors will swallow 14 percent pay cuts.

Bucsko says most of the changes will go into effect when U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain approves the deal, expected next week.

The upside, such as it is, is that the 26-month deal means the newsroom has a deal Drain won’t throw out; there was a real danger he could have tossed the existing contract and imposed harsher terms.

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The last major union without a deal represents the paper’s drivers. Their pension is believed to be at least $10 million underfunded, and the company’s liability is likely hindering a deal.