Star Tribune guild kept in the dark about paper's recent financial troubles

As the newspaper's financial troubles continue to go down hill, the newspaper's union has to sit on the sidelines and hope the newsroom (and whole paper) stay alive.

Newspaper Guild Star Tribune unit co-chairman Graydon Royce said the union didn't have any warning that the paper planned to skip its debt payment yesterday. The news came out this morning to staff and readers.

Royce said he learned of the situation this morning along with the rest of the staffers, but notes that the Guild has little control over the situation.

"There's not much we can do because this is really a corporate issue," he says. "Obviously we are all concerned about the newspaper and where this is going."

In July, the paper's newsroom workers ratified an agreement for a three-year labor contract to help save about $2.4 million a year. The company also cut six newsroom jobs through voluntary buyout packages. The contract included a 16-month wage freeze, followed by three semiannual raises ranging from 1 to 1.5 percent. It also shifts a greater share of health care costs to employees but keeps the company's pension plans.

Company employees are expecting an update on the state of the company sometime in the next couple days and Royce says he hasn't been informed of what could be mentioned in the update. The Star Tribune report this morning said all options, including bankruptcy, are being considered. The newsroom is currently "business as usual" until more information is available, he says.

"Just for your sanity, you have to figure you are going to do your work and keep going about it," Royce said.

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