Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lee Enterprises Wants 23-percent Wage Cut From St. Louis Post-Dispatch Guild Members

Lee Enterprises is asking members of the The Newspaper Guild of St. Louis to accept a 23 percent wage cut.

Owners of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is proposing pay cuts of 15 percent in the first year, and 5 percent each in the second and third years of the contract, according to the guild’s website.

Therre isn't much comment from management. “We have always refrained from making any comment or discussing the substance of the negotiations,” said Dan Hayes, a spokesman for Lee, told the St. Louis Business Journal.

Guild members already voted 100-27 to agree to a second week of furloughs but only if Lee agreed to no layoffs during contract negotiations, the guild said on its site.

Lee also proposed the following contract changes, according to the guild's website:

• Ability to lay off employees for any reason

• The right to suspend employees for up to three days without “just cause”

• Eliminating paid maternity leave

• Cutting unpaid maternity leave in half, to 12 weeks maximum

• Eliminating retiree medical

• Eliminating retiree life insurance

• Eliminating 401(k) match

• Freezing Pulitzer Pension Plan

• Increasing employee share of medical premiums to 30 percent from 25 percent

• Eliminating the Pulitzer PPO medical plan

• Eliminating a set guaranteed base for commission sales reps

• Requiring outside sales reps to work unlimited unpaid overtime

• Eliminating company vehicles for photographers

• Eliminating shares of reprints for photographers

• The right to fire employees on sick leave after three months of absence. The contract now allows 18 months.

The Guild proposed longer funeral leave for the death of spouses and children, a larger cell-phone reimbursement, a mileage increase, enhanced severance packages after layoffs, additional holidays, a 401(k) match of up to 5 percent and overtime eligibility for columnists and outside ad reps.

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