Pioneer Press workers vote to begin concession negotiations

A few months after Star Tribune workers agreed to givebacks in bankruptcy, Pioneer Press Newspaper Guild members voted Wednesday to open discussions with management seeking similar cuts.

According to the Guild memo (below), after a “spirited” meeting, union members “narrowly approved” talk to the company. You’d expect such, ahem, spirit after management’s opening offer of a 7 percent pay cut, then a freeze, plus no merit pay or extra night wages.

[Update: A-scale workers, which includes reporters, photographers, copy editors and artists, currently make $683 a week for one year of experience, $898 in their third year, and max out at $1,290 a week in their sixth year. Workers often get service credit for work at other papers, so only rookies make first-year scale.]

The contract, which includes newsroom, advertising and circulation workers, expires July 31, 2011. In return, employees want to see the paper’s financials. Pioneer Press owner Media News is not in bankruptcy, but is very highly leveraged. One national union leader says Media News CEO Dean Singleton told him the company wants “parity” with the cost-cutting Strib.

Earlier this year, management sought concessions, but the Guild never voted to open negotiations; bosses went ahead and whacked 10 bodies. Hopefully, the new talks will forestall similar bloodletting, though there’s clearly pain dead ahead.

Here’s the memo:

Guild members vote ‘yes’ to talking to the company

After a spirited meeting tonight, Guild members voted and narrowly approved the company’s request to talk to them about concessions.

The next step will be appointing a negotiating committee and talking to the membership about your ideas. Expect to be hearing from your small group contact leaders soon.

We plan to honor the concern we heard at tonight’s meeting among the membership to request that the company share its financial records with the negotiating committee.

Remember, tonight’s vote was only about talking to the company. If and when we come to an agreement, you’ll have an opportunity to vote on it.

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Hal Davis on 11/09/2009 - 11:26 am.

    Re this at the Pioneer Press:

    ==Earlier this year, management sought concessions, but the Guild never voted to open negotiations; bosses went ahead and whacked 10 bodies. ==

    The Guild did not get a chance to open negotiations. Before the Guild unit could meet to discuss the issue, management probably got a worse set of FY-end numbers than they expected, and “bosses went ahead and whacked 10 bodies.”

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