The worst job in Twin Cities media

MinnPost photo by Corey Anderson
The Star Tribune uses 21 “agents” to handle delivery of its papers.

For those of you getting into the holiday frame of mind, here’s a tip about tipping the person who delivers your newspaper: don’t. Or at least before you check the little box on your newspaper invoice tipping your carrier — consider leaving it blank and taping a check in an envelope to your door (or use the envelope many carriers provide themselves).

This ​summer, I wrote a story about problems with newspaper deliveries in the Twin Cities. Since then, I’ve had several conversations with carriers, mainly those who deliver for the Star Tribune, describing their work environment: the steady deterioration of their compensation; the “take it or leave it” terms of employment under the current system; how difficult-­to-­impossible it is to get a definitive accounting of their tips; and how unlikely it is they’ll ever band together enough to do anything about it.

All in all, it’s a dismaying picture of what happens when a large company takes the familiar path of off­loading employees, their benefits and basic job protections under the guise of granting them freedom to become “independent contractors.”

Most of the people interviewed for this piece insisted on anonymity because of their fears of retaliation. Several others refused any comment whatsoever. But over beers in a west metro bar, two carriers who’ve delivered the Strib for multiple decades described their jobs. It’s a tough way to make a buck.

‘You could make a living’

Under the current system, which has been evolving for almost two decades, the Star Tribune uses 21 “agents” to handle delivery of its papers (down from 46 several years ago). These agents are tasked with hiring the individual carriers and operating the various depots around the metro where carriers arrive in pre­dawn hours to load their private vehicles and set off on their routes.

“The Star Tribune shifted to this independent contractor idea in the late ’90s,” said one of the carriers I spoke to. “But it was still a great rate [of compensation per paper delivered]. You could make a living, and your tip money was passed on straight to you. Now, with this agency concept, which kind of kicked in big time about 2006, it’s not so much. The rate we get is a lot less. There’s no sick-time pay. We cover all the insurance, and of course repairs on our cars. But the tips never seem to match what customers tell us they’ve given, if we get them at all. And we have no way of finding out what the books are saying.”

The two carriers both say that after subtracting for fuel, insurance and repairs (one of the carriers said he’d gone through eight junker vehicles in the past five years) they’re making, “about $5 an hour these days.”

The way tips are supposed to work is this: The customer designates $20 or whatever in the little box on the invoice. The Strib, despite having no official business connection to the carriers, does the accounting work and passes the tip money on to its “agencies,” which then dole out the money — which means a lot more to the carriers today than it did back in the days when their compensation on a rate-per-paper basis was higher.

This tip accounting, they say, comes in what’s called a “green sheet,” which the Strib regularly sends out to the agencies.

Tim Klava, an agent since 2007, is now the metro area’s single largest operator, owning five agencies and employing 116 carriers — “and 90 percent of them have been here since day one.”

Klava hasn’t been accused of improprieties involving tips, and he insists his carriers can come in and check their tip account anytime they want. “Absolutely they can see  it. We report weekly what they’re getting.”

But the carriers claim that’s not the case with most agents. “I’ve asked and I’ve never been allowed to see it,” says one of the carriers I talked to. “And I keep asking why we can’t just see the green sheet numbers when we get our checks. Why isn’t that just a routine procedure? And I’m told it’s too much extra paperwork, and basically, ‘Get the hell out of here.’ The point is there’s no transparency. You just get your check. And if you want to raise a stink, well, look out.”

‘It wasn’t their business’

Scott Scheid is one carrier, now out of the game, who will put his name to his story. Now on medical disability after four surgeries for diabetes-­related problems, Scheid says the low compensation, non­existent benefits and burden of penalties for late deliveries, wrong address deliveries, wet papers and on and on has created an exodus of people like him. The agents, he says, “are desperate for people. If they lose someone, or a carrier calls in sick, there’s a good chance they’re going to have to do the route themselves. Either them or someone in the depot. But really, right now, it’s like the Marines at the end in Vietnam. They’ll take anyone. And training, by the way, is also non­existent.”

“One time, when I asked about tips, the agent just flat out told me: ‘I can do anything I want [with that money],” said Scheid.

In 2008, Scheid managed to beat one of the agents to the green sheet, copying and re­sealing it and proving conclusively that the carriers had been shorted by an average of $700 per carrier.

The Strib soon stepped in and dropped the hammer on the guy running the agency, who paid out thousands in back tip money and was replaced with a new agent.

But the carriers believe tip skimming continues to this day. “Before we had the hard numbers, we’d complain to the Strib and all they’d say is, ‘Take it up with the agents,’” Scheid says. “Their attitude then and now is that it wasn’t their business.”

No legal obligation

And legally, it isn’t. Despite handling the carriers’ tip money through their accounting department and distributing it back to the agents, the Strib has no legal obligation, much less liability, to see that the money gets to the people their forms suggest to subscribers it will get to. In other words, the “independent contractor” concept saves the company on salaries and benefits but also puts up a wall when it comes to issues such as the tip dispute.

To some, the arrangement doesn’t pass the smell test, even if it’s completely legal. “Obviously, there are practical and legal reasons why they don’t want to see [the carriers] as employees,” said business attorney and Mitchell-Hamline School of Law professor Daniel Kleinberger. “But I don’t know that having acted as, in essence, an accounts payable department for the carriers, they can get rid of that duty [to see that the money gets into the carriers’ hands] simply by delegating it out to these other people.”

Strib spokesman Steve Yaeger defended the paper’s position in all this on the grounds that the players involved — both agents and carriers — are independent contractors, free to negotiate their own contracts and resolve their own disagreements. 

“We believe the system is fair to everyone,” said Yaeger. “Our part [of the tip] system is strictly as a pass-through service. The others are independent contractors and if they have disputes, it’s between them.”

‘Forget about organizing’

To outside observers, the situation would seem like fertile ground for a union to try to organize the carriers, but those I spoke to were unanimous in their opinion that it will never happen.

“I can’t say for sure, but I suspect a lot of the Hispanic carriers have documentation problems,” said Scheid. “So they’re not going to do anything that rocks the boat. They just want a paycheck. … And the rest of them? Hell, I’d say 90 percent of the carriers in the metro are Tea Party Republicans. They hate themselves and they hate unions. So forget about organizing.”

Short of some operatic Norma Rae moment, the best option, Kleinberger offers, is for the Strib to step in once again, to “at minimum, make certain in its contracts with these agency people that it is clear what monies go to the carriers.”

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Comments (33)

  1. Submitted by Gerald Abrahamson on 11/23/2015 - 11:34 am.

    Physical delivery of a newspaper is going away.

    Thus, the need for delivery people also disappears when the cost is too high. Cheaper for newspapers to just issue a dedicated reader, as large displays are getting cheaper and cheaper every year.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 11/23/2015 - 11:37 am.

    Now I feel better

    …about never checking that box on my ‘Strib bill. My carrier (the name varies) has put a “Christmas card” inside a paper, containing his address, and I’ve mailed a small check to that address. It gets deposited fairly quickly…

  3. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 11/23/2015 - 11:52 am.

    Yeah, that makes sense

    Take a job that essentially pays $5 an hour and spend some of that money on union dues.

  4. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 11/23/2015 - 12:05 pm.

    I have never regarded that tip line on my Star Tribune invoice as a way to tip the carriers. It never seemed clear to me who would figure out who got what between the different carriers for daily and weekends, much less the intervening layer of management. So I’m probably not tipping enough. when I write out a Christmas tip check for both. I’ll try to do better now that I’ve read this article.

    Story after story after story in U.S. business: shareholders and owners get all the money, with workers–including reporters, here–getting less and less under a non-unionized, voluntary system where a company’s secret profit levels are only reluctantly, if ever, shared with the public.

    Incidentally: By far the very best Strib carriers I’ve had in the past twenty years have been two Hispanic women, then one Hispanic man. They work harder, and Boy! am I ever sorry to see them leave for better horizons in the work world. True grit, in a hard job.

  5. Submitted by Kathleen Laurila on 11/23/2015 - 12:34 pm.

    As a Strib consumer

    I have never provided tip money to the carriers through my Strib account. However, I do send a personal check at Christmas time because they always leave an envelop. I will continue to do this for my weekend paper as that is always neatly rolled up on my front steps as requested, but no matter how many times I call about my week day paper because it isn’t delivered, or it is tossed in a place I can’t find it — it is usually out in the driveway, in the front lawn, behind the bushes – or it is wet even when in a plastic sleeve because the end isn’t tucked in or it has holes in it, and then always, it is tossed in a puddle. I have had a newspaper at my door since 1940 (in those days there were two deliveries a day) and never had such bad service that doesn’t get taken care of — regardless of the promises of the Strib customer service Rep. makes to “talk to the supervisor.” This story explains a lot, but the customer needs to be considered as well.

  6. Submitted by Dan Kaufman on 11/23/2015 - 12:55 pm.

    Strib delivery can be a nightmare

    I have had problems off-and-on the past few years in getting my paper in the morning (in Woodbury). Call customer service and I think you are talking to someone in Indiana. You cannot even email customer service directly (need to go thru their website) They have no idea what is going on.

    Maybe home delivery doesn’t mean anything to the Strib anymore, but when I was not getting the paper on time half the days a week, it was endlessly frustrating. I finally sent messages to “The Top” (publisher and head of customer service). I actually got a reply, and over the past year, delivery has improved tremendously.

    Outsourcing delivery and customer service seems like a terrible strategy. It is like TV or radio outsourcing the on-air personnel, or at least the engineers who get the shows to air correctly. If you can’t make this “last mile” function perfectly, then all the rest of the reporting suffers.

  7. Submitted by Elaine Frankowski on 11/23/2015 - 01:04 pm.

    this is the kind of thing we need to know

    Those of us who live well over the subsistence income level rarely understand issues such as the Strib agents’ cheating their “independent contractors” out of tips and the Strib’s washing their hands of the cheating in a very Pontius Pilate way. Thank you for making us privileged citizens aware of what’s being done to the least among us.

    My carriers are wise enough to provide their home addresses early in December and I send my tip directly to them. Interestingly, the Christmas cards they user are supplied by the Strib, possibly at some cost to the carrier. That’s something I’d like to know.

  8. Submitted by Jason Walker on 11/23/2015 - 02:03 pm.

    Pretty bad job, media or otherwise

    I’ve always been aware of the delivery drivers and how rough a job it must be. My first real job was on the night desk at the Topeka Capital-Journal, and I remember leaving the office around 1 a.m. and the carriers were already lining up to pick up the paper (much smaller circulation, so they just picked up at the main office). These were people who obviously were not well-paid.
    That paper comes out 365 days a year, even Christmas, and somebody’s gotta deliver it (and write it, edit it, design it, etc). Working those nights/weekends/holiday hours at daily papers burned me out quick. But I had it WAY better than the delivery folks in terms of hours.
    Thanks for reporting on this, Brian, because I had no idea they were so low-paid here in the metro. For the record, I always tip my paper guys at the holidays – in cards mailed direct to them – because they are absolutely amazing. The paper is always right at my doorstep, always dry, always there.

  9. Submitted by Nikki Strandskov on 11/23/2015 - 04:17 pm.

    Paper carriers as independent contractors

    I’ve had occasion to prepare taxes for a few paper carriers. They have to file a Schedule C (self-employment), keep track of vehicle expenses, etc. They end up clearing very little even if they drive old beaters. To me, they should be employees since they are required to keep to a schedule for delivery and abide by other work rules.

  10. Submitted by James Sandberg on 11/23/2015 - 05:52 pm.

    Illegal Independent Contractors

    I’m in agreement with the tax pre-parer above, that they can no way be construde as Independent Contractors. Tax & Employment laws are very clear about that. If they must keep a schedule, and are not allowed to arrange the times of delivery on their own, They are NOT considered I.C.

    Their employer, the AGENT is responsible for withholding taxes and paying half their SS.

    Someone (maybe me) should call the IRS.

    • Submitted by Gary Jackson on 11/25/2015 - 08:59 am.

      Not Really

      Having a delivery deadline does not make the carriers employees. This has been litigated many times over the years. The deadline is an expectation of the customer. Contract rates are negotiated. Expenses like fuel, bags, etc are born by the contractor. There are no required start times, only a delivery deadline. The carrier determines the method of delivery….car, bicycle, walking, whatever. They can deliver their route alone or have helpers If a carrier is not happy with their income, they should negotiate their rate with the Agent or newspaper.

      • Submitted by Gerald Abrahamson on 11/25/2015 - 10:59 am.

        Method of delivery is not a choice.

        I have seen the ads seeking delivery personnel.

        They all REQUIRED vehicle ownership AND a valid driver’s license.

  11. Submitted by Richard O'Neil on 11/23/2015 - 05:58 pm.

    After 10+ years

    Delivery here in Shoreview has deteriorated greatly over the last year. Service was reliable for the midweek days but weekends were really random. I became annoyed after calling in delivery complaints at least every other week so I finally quit the paper. Even though I signed up for the digital version, I prefer the physical paper.

  12. Submitted by Lydia Lucas on 11/23/2015 - 06:06 pm.

    Pioneer Press delivery

    Just yesterday I returned my latest PPr bill with a note stopping my subscription, since delivery was too erratic and I couldn’t rely on them to suspend delivery when I went out of town (leaving papers to pile up on the driveway). Too bad, since I stare at computer screens for so many other purposes that I really would prefer to read a physical newspaper. The publishers can do all they want to try to make the local newspaper relevant, but if they can’t give value for money in the delivery, it’s all for naught.

  13. Submitted by Joe Musich on 11/23/2015 - 09:13 pm.

    Wow !

    Maybe like in Missouri the Timberwolves players will boycott over mistreatment of Strib “non employees ” ya think ? Seriously tho this piece is just another reason to question exactly what this paper stands for ! Sure there is a piece or two on occasion but wether the Strib is the best source of local news in the broadest definition is in my mind questionable. Then know to find out they have their foot on the back of the most primary newspaper worker puts the paper closer to the collection of odd efforts at journalism at gorcery store checkout lines.

  14. Submitted by Allan Wilson on 11/24/2015 - 02:04 am.

    Tea Party Republicans

    Great piece and a classic quote:

    “Hell, I’d say 90 percent of the carriers in the metro are Tea Party Republicans. They hate themselves and they hate unions..”

    This will help me face Thanksgiving in a couple of days. LOL–

    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 11/26/2015 - 08:48 am.

      Can’t do the math?

      President Obama received 67% of the Hispanic vote in 2008 and 71% in 2012. The Strib carriers are in large part Hisapanic, yet we are to believe, “90 percent of the carriers in the metro are Tea Party Republicans. They hate themselves and they hate unions..”

      Explain that at your Thanksgiving.

      The unions would be there if were enough money in it for them. Not only is there not enough money, it is a declining workforce, which to the union is a declining revenue stream. Not interested.

  15. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 11/24/2015 - 08:29 am.

    612-673-4343

    I have that number memorized because 5-10 years ago I had massive problems getting my paper before I went to work. But if I got a wet paper or late paper or it was left at the end of the driveway instead of on my porch I called and got credit for that day. I assume that still works.

    Seems like if the paper had a system in place to transfer tips to the agents for particular carriers they would be able to dump that list online so the carriers could see if they are being cheated or not. I also only tip via the happy holiday note I receive from each of my carriers near Christmas.

    By the way, when I was a kid I delivered the Minneapolis Star, evenings and Sunday mornings, for two years. I also had to go around collecting money every other week I think. I still remember the one house where the woman just never seemed to have cash on hand every darn time and forced me to come back over and over with my collection book. I think I earned around 8 dollars every two weeks for about 60 Sunday papers and a few less during the week back when the minimum wage was a buck an hour and I was earning way less than that. But then I was only eleven.

  16. Submitted by Dan Landherr on 11/24/2015 - 09:32 am.

    I never have problems with my MinnPost delivery

    I’ve pretty much switched over to reading my news online. I get the Pioneer Press at their $2 yearly subscription so I can get the gas coupons. It gets recycled fairly quickly.

  17. Submitted by Steve Yaeger on 11/24/2015 - 11:43 am.

    Strib spokesman responds

    Lambert strongly implies that tip money is not making its way into carriers’ paychecks, but provides no evidence this is actually the case. If it were, the Star Tribune would certainly want to know and would deal with it swiftly.

    It would be awful if the outcome of this irresponsible story was that Star Tribune subscribers stopped tipping their hard-working carriers. The Star Tribune encourages subscribers to tip their carriers directly. However, many find it more convenient to tip via the invoice option, for obvious reasons: it can be difficult to make contact with people who come and go while you are sleeping.

    As the Star Tribune spokesman who talked with Brian Lambert and provided much of the background information for this story, let me offer a different view of the carrier force that delivers the Star Tribune as well as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the Washington Post National Weekly to people around the state. They perform a vital service, delivering to hundreds of thousands of Minnesota homes every day of the week, 365 days a year. No one else does that. Not the U.S. Postal Service, not FedEx, not UPS.

    Make no mistake: it’s not a glamorous job. Carriers start early and work hard. But we’re grateful for the efforts of every single one of them. As I explained to Lambert in our lengthy conversation, most do it for supplemental income. However, some do it — believe it or not — because they enjoy it. Like the 78-year-old woman who retired last month after 37 years on her South Minneapolis route. Not because she wanted to, but because health reasons forced her to.

    It would have been helpful to MinnPost readers if Lambert had provided some sense of how the job of delivering newspapers is done in other markets, rather than focusing on the comments of one disgruntled ex-carrier. Our system certainly isn’t perfect. Competition for jobs of all kinds is fierce, and we struggle with too many open routes, which affects service to our customers. But if there’s a better way to profitably deliver newspapers in 2015, we haven’t heard of it. We welcome suggestions.

    • Submitted by randy schmidt on 11/24/2015 - 02:36 pm.

      It was mentioned earlier in the article that a particular agent was caught red-handed stealing tips. It was also said that carriers believe the tip-stealing practice by agents is ongoing.

      Surely there must be a way to audit these agents, There is always a money trail. I would suggest that the Star Tribune conduct an extensive audit on all agents to determine if the theft is as reprehensible as indicated.

      If so, return stolen money to carriers and cease the tip option on the invoices.

      That seems simple enough. Or am I missing something here?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/25/2015 - 10:23 am.

      Response

      A response, not a reply. That was a wise choice of words.

      Mr. Lambert did provide “evidence” that tips were being stolen. There is some mild disapproval (“If it were [true], the Star Tribune would certainly want to know and would deal with it swiftly.”), and then a rapid transition into “our carriers are great people who like what they do, and why don’t you write about something else?”

      I will tip my carrier, but not through an invoice. I feel better knowing that no one with sticky fingers will “retain” the tip, and I imagine that the choice of a personal touch over convenience may be appreciated.

  18. Submitted by randy schmidt on 11/24/2015 - 12:27 pm.

    Reply to Mr. Yaeger

    “. . . and we struggle with too many open routes.”

    Here’s a suggestion, Mr. Yaeger: try paying your carriers more than five dollars an hour and let them have their tip money. Seems like a logical place to start.

  19. Submitted by Maria Jette on 11/25/2015 - 01:38 pm.

    Here’s my emailed response to Mr. Yaeger

    Dear Mr. Yaeger,

    I’m glad you included your actual name in your comment following Lambert’s story, as I was hoping to make my own contact with the Strib and wasn’t sure where to start.

    I’ve been a Strib reader since my family moved to the Twin Cities in 1972. I want the paper version of the paper to survive! Obviously, you do, too (at least, I assume you do)— and in my view, that means you should take a negative article like this one seriously, rather than attacking the writer, who’s a venerable and well-respected Twin Cities journalist. You’re not helping your cause by insisting that the carriers (even the former “disgruntled” one) aren’t telling the truth.

    Your painfully defensive comments on the story, coupled with your characterization of it as “irresponsible,” did nothing to bolster anyone’s sense that the Strib is aware of, or interested in, what’s going on with the people who deliver your product. To top it off, your story of the old dear who just hated to quit was a ridiculous example, unless you could demonstrate that she didn’t need the income! I think it’s fairly well-known that delivering papers is sort of a last-ditch job for the vast majority of people who do it, and the Strib’s abdication of responsibility for distributing the tips WHICH YOU COLLECT adds an extra touch of bitterness to their situation.

    A humane and proper response would have been for you to have said, “We are going to investigate this situation immediately. We did resolve the tip-skimming of one bad apple in the past, but it looks like we need to keep our eye on the ball. Thanks for the nudge— I’ll be back with a full report when we’ve made our own investigation, and would appreciate a private note from Mr. Lambert with contact info from the carriers who are too frightened to speak out. We will make sure their identities are not revealed to their agents.”

    Instead, you tell us something we all know: that there are many great carriers who do a job most people would hate, and do it reliably and well. If that weren’t the case, nobody would care about their tips!

    Meanwhile, by leaving that workforce to the supervision of non-Strib “agents” of questionable quality, you’ve ended up with lots of longtime subscribers dumping the paper, or preparing to do so. Here’s an exchange from my Facebook page (it’s a public one— feel free to take a look at the other comments, one of which is from a happy Strib carrier):

    ———
    Friend 1: I have different carriers on the weekend and weekdays. The weekend carrier is fabulous. Paper always on time and right on my doorstep. I leave him tips in an envelope taped to my door. Used to have great service weekdays, too, but something happened. Paper is sometimes three hours late or doesn’t come at all. It is never on my doorstep. It is all over the place– in the grass, at the end of my driveway or my neighbor’s driveway ( who doesn’t get a paper). It is often wet when it rains, which wouldn’t happen if
    it were left on my doorstep. As a result, I am seriously considering dropping my weekday paper. I have been getting a paper seven days a week for 40 years. My weekday service is so bad that no tip is deserved. The carrier would never see an envelope on my door, since he never gets out of the car. The paper is literally tossed out of the car as it drives by.
    Like · Reply · 3 · November 23 at 3:04pm · Edited

    Friend 2: We have the opposite – weekday is great; Sunday not. Three in a row missed.
    Like · Reply · November 23 at 3:42pm

    Maria Jette Aren’t you both St. Paulites? Not that that guarantees that you’re getting the PP, but is that your paper? I’d send that report as-is to them, SS! I think it might get their attention!
    Like · Reply · November 23 at 3:59pm

    Friend 1: I live in New Brighton and get the Strib.
    Like · Reply · November 23 at 4:25pm

    Friend 2: We get the Strib not the PP.
    Like · Reply · November 23 at 4:59pm
    ——-

    We’ve had excellent service here in Deephaven, by the way— my husband’s had a subscription since 1986 at this address. We’ll continue to subscribe, although I do read the online version on my phone in bed every morning! For me to get my physical paper, though, YOU (i.e. the StarTribune) have to do all you can to ensure that the delivery system is great everywhere, not just on my street— and clearly you’re contributing to the disgruntlement of some of those carriers by leaving them to the mercy of some dishonest agents.

    Best regards,
    Maria Jette

  20. Submitted by jim flanagan on 11/26/2015 - 10:37 pm.

    Excellent service and a lousy article

    I live in St. Paul and have always had excellent service. My paper is here at 5 am each morning. Lamberts hatchet job is based on two couriers. Looks like lambert wants to unionize carriers and found 2 people to support his view. I am on a first name basis with my courier and tip him directly.

  21. Submitted by Gary Clements on 11/29/2015 - 01:06 pm.

    Good Article, Poor Service

    I so agree that the tips should be left directly to the carrier, not through the Strib or its “Agents”.
    Unfortunately, I’m a Sunday subscriber who has gotten a delivery only twice out of 7 weeks now.
    What to do? Frustrating when I want to read the paper in my hands, not online.

  22. Submitted by cheryl obrien on 11/29/2015 - 01:08 pm.

    support delivery people.

    I think the few who have come forward represent many of the tribune delivery people. And I always tip both of my delivery ladies. I do think the tribune needs to follow through and see if the tips are being stolen. My weekday person always thanks me after she receives my tip. Now I know why she didn’t a few months ago when I tipped $25 on my bill. I truly believe now she never got it.

    Mr Yeager needs to get out of the office and see exactly how these distribution managers operate. How about an on site visit in the middle of the night? Or doesn’t that meet your 9 to 5 hours. Or audit the tips. Easy and the distribution managers shouldn’t quibble if they are, indeed, not stealing the tips. great article Brian Lambert!!!

  23. Submitted by Steve Peterson on 11/29/2015 - 02:01 pm.

    Carriers have been independent contractors for a long time

    I’ve taken the Strib since 1990 in Bloomington and have been happy the whole time with the service from my carriers.

    One point of clarification: the blurb used to promote this article – “what happens when a large company takes the familiar path of turning onetime employees into “independent contractors.”, and the quote “The Star Tribune shifted to this independent contractor idea in the late ’90s” don’t describe the situation as I remember it.

    I delivered for the Star and Tribune in the Twin Cities from 1973 to 1978. During that time, carriers were independent contractors. I collected payments from my customers, and paid the Star and Tribune every 2 weeks for newspapers. We also ran the paper station at our house — which was the final tier of distribution, serving roughly 5 neighborhood carriers.

    My understanding is that carriers for the Star and Tribune were independent contractors going back to at least the 1940s.

    I’ve never understood the economics of delivering newspapers to the door using a car. It has to be really tough to break even with the costs of maintaining a car.

  24. Submitted by David Krieger on 11/29/2015 - 05:47 pm.

    Excellent Article and Lousy Service

    I leave for work at 6:30am and have always been able to read through both my local papers and the Wall Street rag before leaving home….. Then the “new delivery group” arrived. Sometimes one of three papers come, sometimes two of the same ones arrive, of course reliably late, to my doorstep. I never expect a weekend paper before 11am. This summer it was not unusual to see delivery after 3pm. What will winter bring!
    As for any Christmas bonus, it will be delivered to them late, in proportion to how many hours late my paper arrives.

  25. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/30/2015 - 10:21 am.

    Foul on Yaeger

    I don’t know who Mr. Yaeger thinks he’s fooling with his response but its the weakest attempt at dodging responsibility I’ve seen a long time. Given the fact that we’re currently in the midst of a political season littered with sociopaths that’s quite an accomplishment.

    Simply put, you don’t claim something is a priority you’d jump all over if you knew about it, but hide behind a deliberately constructed wall of ignorance that’s specifically and deliberately designed to keep you in the dark.

    Mr. Yaeger, you can dodge responsibility for your delivery people by handing them off to independent contractors, but you can’t then guarantee they’re wages aren’t being stolen… unless you conduct regular audits? If you’re not taking the simple precaution of auditing your “agents” then you have have no business declaring that the tip money is getting to the appropriate paychecks. The truth is you have no idea where that money goes because it’s no longer you’re problem.

    Your “outrage” with Mr. Lambert is rather like Sgt. Shultz’s assurances that if he “knew” about Hogan’s secret tunnels he’d certainly do something about them!

    Meanwhile, wage theft like this is not a figment of Mr. Lambert’s imagination. From Walmart to domestic it’s a documented crime wave in the United States. One would think a Newspaper guy would be aware eh?

  26. Submitted by Sean Olsen on 11/30/2015 - 12:29 pm.

    Agency model

    I think it would be fascinating to look at the economics of the agency itself. How does the Strib pay the agency? What kinds of expectations and restrictions do they put on the agency? All of that is going to flow downwards as well.

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