Another Post-Dispatch bargaining update

On Monday the United Media Guild held another round of bargaining with St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Lee Enterprises management for a new contract.

Here are the Guild’s key demands:

  • Annual wage increases for newsroom and support employees in a three-year contract.
  • Annual increases in the base pay for advertising salespersons earning base plus commission.
  • Increased pay for interns.
  • Increased 401K contribution.
  • Frozen health insurance premiums and plan details for 2022.
  • Continuation of company-provided parking.
  • Increased paid maternity leave.
  • Paternity leave.
  • Expanding the definition of columnists in the contract to include all journalists the company currently promotes as columnists.
  • Continuing the ability of employees to work from home, with clearly defined exceptions.

The two sides have made progress on maternity leave, paternity leave, parking and intern pay. The company made a slight move on wage increases for journalists and base pay for advertising salespersons.

The Post-Dispatch has asked the Guild for approval to move the Pulitzer Pension Plan under the same administrative umbrella as Lee Enterprises’ other pension plans. The Guild’s pension consultant reviewed the proposal and agreed that it would not endanger the federally protected pension benefits of current or future recipients.

Here are the basics:

  • While the Pulitzer plan is underfunded, the Buffalo pension plan under Lee’s control is overfunded.
  • Tying the overfunded pension to the underfunded Pulitzer plan would save the company the pension insurance costs tied to the underfunding.
  • Connecting the plans also saves the company the millions of dollars it would have had to pour into the Pulitzer plan at some point to improve its funding level.
  • The connection also saves the company some annual administrative costs.

In addition to discussing a new agreement, the Guild asked the company to address several questions it has about Lee Enterprises’ new cell phone policy and the impact that policy would on journalists and salespersons.

Negotiations will continue.