Negotiations between the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
's corporate parent and the local union that represents the paper's staff have so deteriorated that union officials have agreed to free up $500,000
in union assets for tarring and feathering
The St. Louis Newspaper Guild
is now seeking P-D
employees willing to deploy a variety of smear tactics against Lee Enterprises
, from badmouthing the Iowa-based company in the Twitter-verse
, to pressuring P-D advertisers
to come out in support of the union.
Lee and the union have been negotiating a new contract since May 2009
. Employees of the paper have been working without a contract since June last year.
Lee wants to impose a 25 percent pay cut
over three years on union employees, in addition to dropping medical care coverage for retirees and reducing pension benefits.
Guild officials fear that within the next month, Lee will make a final offer to its members -- who are 99 percent certain to vote it down -- and that Lee would then declare an impasse in the negotiations. Under federal law, Lee would then be free to impose whatever cuts it wishes.
At that point, the Guild's $500,000 lobbying blitz would be deployed.
"The Guild wants very much to reach an agreement with the Post-Dispatch
," says Shannon Duffy
, the union's business rep. "We've doubled the number of meetings this month, and we remain committed to reaching an agreement. The thing that is concerning to us is that the Post
keeps going on and on about, 'Time is running out; if you don't give us what we want, we're going to do what we have to do.'"
Duffy tells the Daily RFT
he can't discuss the particulars of the potential PR storm, saying only that the union is prepping for the worst.