Guild members played a pivotal role as ownership of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat changed hands last week. A local investment group announced its purchase minutes after Guild members ratified a new contract, a deal bankers demanded be done as a condition of financing. It was a unanimous Guild vote but the outcome was hardly a sure thing. The membership had to accept deep pay and benefit cuts, including loss of all further company contributions to a pension plan. In exchange, the purchase group agreed to an unprecedented three-year contract with guarantees against layoffs, expanded Guild jurisdiction and the promise of a fresh start for quality journalism. Photo: Unit chair Derek Moore and new Press Democrat CEO Steve Falk sign the Guild contract.