Star Tribune Guild cancels planned protest due to concerns about Dayton's tax plan

Strib HQ.
Strib HQ.
thomas pix via Flickr

After the Star Tribune banned its union from meeting inside the Strib building last week, the Star Tribune Newspaper Guild decided to protest. Members planned a rally outside the paper's building for Monday afternoon at 4.

Strib honchos justified the meeting ban by saying it would be "disruptive." But the choice didn't come in a vacuum: Strib labor contracts expire January 31, and Guild members -- the about 250 employees who work in the newsroom, and on promotions and circulation -- are currently negotiating a new pact.

Plus, Monday marked the 2,004th day that Guild members have gone without a raise, on top of pay cuts and other concessions that the union granted the paper during the dark days of 2009 bankruptcy.

In spite of all of this, around 11 a.m. yesterday, the Guild cancelled the rally. So what happened?

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The Guild is blaming taxes. Specifically, the threat of higher ones.

Part of Governor Dayton's controversial new budget proposal, announced last week, includes a sales tax on newspaper ink, paper and advertising. When Dayton spoke about the plan at the Minnesota Newspaper Association's convention last week, paper editors from around the state were grumbling, MPR reported, and trotting out the old tax fears about job losses. 

Apparently, Strib execs are worried about them too -- or at least using the tax uncertainty to push off the Guild.

"The company has expressed concerns about how Gov. Dayton's tax proposal will affect the Star Tribune's business in the long term, and Guild negotiations in the short term," Guild Mobilization Chair Jackie Crosby wrote in an email. "While the union is mulling a response to the company's concerns, we decided to hold off on the rally until we're back at the negotiating table."

Despite the cancellation, the Guild doesn't sound ready to walk away from negotiations empty-handed. "The sacrifices that Guild members made three years ago helped save this 140-year community institution," Janet Moore, co-chair of the Guild, said in a news release before the rally was called off. "It's time for the Star Tribune to recognize our contributions."

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