St. Paul Paper Seeking $2.4 Million in Union Concessions

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By: Joe Strupp

Management at the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Wednesday asked union leaders for $2.4 million in annual cuts and said jobs would be lost if the reductions were not made, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported.

The Star Tribune stated the company is seeking “a pay freeze, a freeze of pay increases tied to years of experience, a freeze in the company’s 401(k) match, the elimination of extra pay for night shifts, the elimination of merit pay, and a cut to base wages.”

The story cited Dave Orrick, a unit officer with the Newspaper Guild, as the source, noting the union represents about 300 Pioneer Press employees, including 138 in the newsroom.

Thom Fladung, the paper’s editor, said if concessions were not made, “it would mean fewer jobs in the newsroom,” the story stated, adding no specific job loss number was given.

“However, it’s not hard to do the math,” the story added. “With newsroom employees costing an average of about $80,000 with benefits, it could mean 20 to 30 jobs. That’s 14 to 22 percent of the already depleted newsroom.”

The story added that Fladung held a 5 p.m. staff meeting in the newsroom and spoke “in broad terms about the savings the company is seeking.”

The Guild’s contract with the company expires July 31, 2011. Members had been expecting a raise to take effect July 1.

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