Pressmen Vote Down Concessions at Star Tribune

August 1, 2008: Teamster pressmen at the Minneapolis Star Tribune have killed a concessionary agreement by a vote of 77 to 27.

The deal would have cut GCC Local 1-M members’ wages by 10 percent.

Drivers from Local 638 and mailers from Local 120 voted to approve concessions at the newspaper. But the agreements were tied together, and the pressmen’s No vote has stopped all three.

This is one victory in a big battle. Now all three unions will go back to the bargaining table.

Financial Problems?

For the drivers, the proposed concession came just one year into their four-year contract. The pressmen still have 28 months left on their old contract, and the mailers 11 months.

The concessions were supposed to help the newspaper financially—even though the Star Tribune’s parent company, Avista, has been making statements this year that it is solvent and making good profits.

“We are a strong and profitable company,” publisher Chris Harte told employees in February.

Rank-and-File Network Informed Members

The new deal was negotiated in secret, with International rep Brad Slawson leading the talks.

It was up to working Teamsters to keep members informed.

Members from all three unions, as well as other members of the Machinists and the Newspaper Guild, formed the Newspaper Workers Rank-and-File Solidarity Support Committee to give members an informed vote.

A flyer by the group, informing members about the concessions, said: “Concessions don’t save jobs,” and asked members to “Vote No.”

This is the second time this summer Star Tribune Teamsters have rejected concessions. In June Local 638 asked drivers to give up their 20¢ raise slated to come in on July 1. Members voted unanimously not to vote on the offer, and they got the raise bump.

“Everyone knows the newspaper industry is having tough times, and members are rightfully worried about our jobs and our future. But our union has to be about more than just fear,” said Rick Sather, a Local 638 driver.

“That’s our job, to show that when we work together, we can have some hope.”

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