Guild Responds to ‘Star Tribune’ Bankruptcy Notice

By: E&P Staff

Graydon Royce, co-chairman of the MInneapolis Star Tribune’s unit of the guild, said he learned of the paper’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing when another employee called him about 8:15 p.m. last night.

“The Newspaper Guild was given no heads up at all,” Royce said, according to an article in today’s edition of the paper. “We have to get a lawyer and financial expert to represent us in any proceedings that happen. Beyond that, we just don’t know what’s going to transpire.

“Some of us have lived here for decades, we’ve raised our families here and we understand the significance of keeping alive an institution that has served the community for 142 years,” Royce added.

The guild released the following statement.
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Leaders of the Newspaper Guild, which represents nearly 300 newsroom journalists, said they are committed to the Star Tribune’s survival as a vital source of news and as a Twin Cities civic institution.

“We take seriously the future of this newspaper and our continued role in covering the events that define Minnesota,” said Graydon Royce, who is co-chair of the Star Tribune unit of the Newspaper Guild. “Some of us have lived here for decades, we’ve raised our families here and we understand the significance of keeping alive an institution that has served the community for 142 years.”

Guild leaders said they recognize the critical moment all newspapers face in 2009. Since Avista Capital Partners purchased the newspaper in 2007, the union has lost about 100 jobs, or nearly 25 percent of the news staff. That includes 23 journalists who took buyouts this month. The Guild represents reporters, editors, photographers, graphic artists, videographers, support, circulation and promotional staff.

“It’s unfortunate that a New York-based private equity company has put the Twin Cities largest source of news and information at risk,” said Royce, a 29-year veteran and one of the newspaper’s fine arts writers.

Last summer, the union agreed to a three-year contract that saved Avista $2.4 million through pay freezes, buyouts and contract changes. In addition, the Guild accepted a new health plan that represented significant savings for the company. In recent negotiations, Guild bargainers offered to extend a 16-month pay freeze for the entire three-year contract and suggested unpaid furloughs and reduced pension contributions as ways of reducing the Star Tribune’s operating costs.

The Star Tribune publishes Minnesota’s largest newspaper and website. Cowles Media owned the business for 60 years before selling it to McClatchy in 1998 for $1.4 billion. The Sacramento-based chain in turn sold to Avista two years ago to raise cash.

Source: http://www.minnpost.com

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