Post-Dispatch bargaining update

The United Media Guild held another round of bargaining with St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Lee Enterprises management for a new contract last week.

We have made some progress on these fronts:

  • Annual wage increases for newsroom, advertising support and other P-D employees in a three-year contract.
  • Annual increases in the base pay for advertising salespersons earning base plus commission.
  • Increased pay for interns.
  • Frozen health insurance premiums and plan details for 2022.
  • Continuation of company-provided parking.
  • Increased paid maternity leave.
  • Paternity leave.
  • Continuing the ability of employees to work from home, with clearly defined exceptions.

The UMG and the company are still some distance apart on the pay issue. And we are still working to finalize language on the work flexibility issue. The company has been addressing our concerns about pay for newsroom employees promoted as columnists, but not paid as such.

We have not made progress on:

  • Increased 401K contributions by the company.

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 is resolving several questions it has about Lee Enterprises’ new cell phone policy and the impact that policy would on journalists and salespersons.

The two sides have scheduled two more meetings this month.