The Waiting

Stribbers bide their time; the Guild gears up for a fight

"Last Thursday, about 20 Guild members flanked every doorway in the Star Tribune's two buildings on Portland Avenue. We handed out flyers to everyone coming in the door and collected as many names and phone numbers as we could. It's part of our effort to unionize everyone who works for the Star Tribune, so everyone has the same protections that Guild members have. (The flyer is on our website, A day later, Helen Wainwright, the Star Tribune's senior vice president of human resources, attacked the Guild in an email sent to ALL employees, union and non-union. We consider it a possible violation of labor law, since it amounts to "direct dealing" with union employees by management.

"So, we're gearing up for a fight and we're actually looking forward to it. We've been asking Guild members to come forward and talk to us if they have any interest in the 40-week buyout package offered in the contract. Remarkably few have come forward. Four or five at the most. Most seem to understand that the 40-week deal offered in the contract was for dismissal pay and was never supposed to be a guideline for future buyouts. This is reassuring. Most of the best journalism at the Star Tribune comes from reporters and editors over the age of 50. And for obvious reasons. They've sent their children to local schools, attend local churches, and have a vested interest in what's going on in our neighborhoods. They've also played a crucial role in training young journalists...."

Blood in the suites. The Star Tribune newsroom is not exactly a jovial place at the moment, but one subject of relatively gleeful speculation is the fate of a sizeable coterie of would-be McClatchy corporate climbers apparently stranded in Minneapolis by Gary Pruitt's decision to take a powder. As of last Christmas morn, remember, the Strib was the flagship of a 32-paper chain, and a leading repository for the company's best-and-brightest types, aspiring managers who dreamed of parlaying a yeoman's term of service here for a top position at another paper, or a job at corporate, later on. "There's a certain type a lot of them seem to fit," notes one newsroom staffer. "They're nice, genial white people who all look the same—great heads of hair, really like their Dockers and their shirts from Target with a tie, and they all just want to help the company do better."

Did the Strib sale throw a wrench in the Tribune Company auction?
Nick Vlcek
Did the Strib sale throw a wrench in the Tribune Company auction?

The day after Christmas, the corporate ladder was pulled away, and so far only Miami-bound editor Anders Gyllenhaal seems to have been delivered to higher ground. What becomes of the rest, the ones who did not necessarily see their career trajectories terminating with a splat in Minneapolis? Will McClatchy reach back for some of them? Will the terms of the sale even allow McClatchy to hire Star Tribune employees anytime soon?

Most observers expect a scramble in which some of the McClatchy progeny will depart. But no one seems willing to guess whether that means half a dozen middle- and upper-management changes, or 10, or....

"It's hard to say," offers the newsroom source. "I think some of these people will try to leave. And some of them will just turn and kiss the next ass. They'll forget that McClatchy was ever here."

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