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Pioneer Press workers reach new labor pact

Editorial employees at the Pioneer Press have tentatively agreed on a new four-year labor contract with MediaNews. The deal, which impacts 340 workers, was reached late last night following three days of intensive talks. The union's previous contract expired at the end of July. Union members will vote on the proposal next Wednesday.

The contract proposal includes raises of two percent each of the next two years and three percent in 2010. It also prohibits layoffs through the end of 2008.

In return the union agreed to a pension freeze, substantial changes to health coverage, and a vacation concession that will save MediaNews $1 million. In addition, the company will be allowed greater leeway in hiring freelance writers to cover areas such as high school sports.

Some of the more pernicious changes that MediaNews had proposed, including a two-tier wage system that would allow the company to pay new hires less money, were scrapped. Both sides also agreed to lobby the state for $400,000 to train employees in multimedia skills.

(Cribbed from Ingrassia. )