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Star Tribune journalists ratify new contract

Star Tribune Guild members ratified their new contract with 96% approval and an impressive 91% voter turnout last week.

“While this isn’t everything that we wanted, we’re proud that we had zero takebacks or losses in our benefits and pay, and instead, we made gains in almost every key area, helping all Guild members,” said Unit Chair Kelly Smith.

“We won brand new benefits, including paid leave for caregivers and wellness days. We expanded parental leave for all new parents and added MLK Jr. Day as a holiday. And we fought hard to have the company publicly share demographics of the newsroom each year,” she said.

The wage increases are the highest at the Star Tribune since 2006, before the company entered bankruptcy. The company is independently owned. The Star Tribune Guild is part of the Minnesota Newspaper and Communications Guild Local 37002, known as the Minnesota NewsGuild.

“We prioritized raising the pay of our lowest-paid employees. For example, an entry-level reporter or copy editor will now make $55,000 instead of about $40,000,” Kelly said.

The unit was highly involved throughout six weeks of negotiations, helping them win one of the best contracts in recent years. “Together, we’ve made the Star Tribune a better workplace with more competitive pay and benefits,” Kelly said.

Highlights of the agreement include:

  • $1,000 bonus July 2022
  • Wage increases of at least 3% in 2022, 2% in 2023 and 2% in 2024
  • $500 lump sum each Aug. 1 for employees who primarily work past 8 pm
  • Joint Diversity Committee language strengthened (including commitment by Publisher to publicly share demographics of the newsroom annually)
  • Add MLK Jr. Day as a paid holiday (qualify for overtime if worked
  • Increase paid parenting leave: up to 8 weeks paid time off
  • Add two paid wellness days each year; plus an additional wellness day for night-side workers
  • Up to 3 paid days in 2023 for COVID-related absences
  • Add Medical Leave for Family Care benefit: up to 6 weeks at 50% pay
  • Add a union member representative on committee that reviews healthcare and other benefits strategies, programs, and options for each plan year. Trial basis until at least the point recommendations are made for 2024 plan year.
  • Expand definition of paid bereavement leave qualification
  • Reduce number of categories considered in layoff situations
  • Memorialize policy of 15-minute break for each 4 hours worked
  • Remove all pronouns from the contract
  • Add merger to language about change of ownership in dismissal pay article
  • Add vision insurance to the union contract

“Together, we’ve made the Star Tribune a better workplace with more competitive pay and benefits,” Kelly said.