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Pioneer Press workers get two more layoff-free months

Although they have not closed the deal on a contract that expires today, the Pioneer Press Newspaper Guild approved a no-layoff extension through March 31. 

The Guild — which represents the newsroom and many business departments – will continue to swallow a 37.5-hour workweek first agreed to last January. That deal cut pay proportionately from a 40-hour week.

The no-layoff provision has preserved headcount at the state’s second-largest daily, at least among union types. (Non-union managers have been let go during the freeze.) Unlike a few years ago, the PiPress has been filling newsroom vacancies, and on Monday, elevated fill-in reporter Brady Gervais to permanent status.

The current negotiation is significant because it is the first under the PiPress’s new management, DigitalFirst, whose strategy has been to outsource printing/distribution and preserve — daresay, enhance? — “content creation.”

The PiPress Guild includes PiPress advertising, circulation, accounting, promotion and building maintenance workers. It isn’t clear how DigitalFirst CEO John Paton’s disruptive business strategies, which emphasize the Internet over print, might disrupt various Guild departments and coalitions.

Like the contract, the no-layoff and shorter-workweek provisions were scheduled to expire Jan. 31. The contract has an evergreen provision that keeps it in force during negotiations, but the layoff and workweek provisions didn’t, necessitating Monday’s vote.

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