Members of the Minnesota Newspaper Guild unit at the Star Tribune voted April 17 to approve a new 39-month contract, an agreement bringing newspaper staff the first pay raises in 5-1/2 years.
With 92 percent of members voting, 78 percent voted in favor of accepting the contract, according to Janet Moore, staff writer and co-chair of the Guild’s Star Tribune unit.
“The agreement is not what we hoped for,” Moore said. “It includes a pay increase, and other improvements for Guild members. However, the bargaining committee was unable to convince the company to increase sick time and to improve our 401k match.”
“While the Guild successfully fought off the expansion of an existing two-tier wage system,” she added, “the company made it clear that no agreement would be reached and no economic gains made unless restrictions were lifted from managers editing.”
The term of the contract is from February 1, 2013 to April 30, 2016.
The Guild’s Star Tribune unit includes 250 members who work as reporters, editors, designers, clerks, promotions staff and circulation managers.
Guild members will receive a two percent wage increase on the first payday after ratification and a second two percent wage increase July 1, 2015. The agreement includes no wage increase in 2014. The increases will bring workers raises ranging from about $4,000 to just over $6,000 for the life of the contract.
The new contract guarantees health insurance premiums will be split 80/20 for 2014. The Guild also has the right to present an alternative health insurance plan to the company during the life of the contract.
In addition to beating back the expansion of the existing two-tier wage system in the contract, the Guild fended off a proposal that would have eliminated job protections for employees who are involuntarily transferred to a new position.
The Guild also fought off a company proposal that would have greatly endangered the job security of members in promotions.
“Unfortunately, the company would not budge from its insistence that managers must have free reign to edit,” Moore said, highlighting an issue important to Guild members. “Language remains in the agreement specifying that no Guild member can lose his or her job as a result of managers editing copy, while the Guild retains jurisdiction over the work.”
The Guild’s bargaining committee presented the contract offer to members for a vote but without a recommendation to vote approval or rejection.