News Column

Detroit Newspaper Workers Agree to New 3-year Contract

Feb 26, 2013

JC Reindl

Employees of several unions at the Detroit Free Press, Detroit News and Detroit Media Partnership ratified new three-year contracts on Sunday that provide annual across-the-board 1% wage increases and different health insurance coverage with lower premiums.

The contracts, which apply to workers at the Detroit newsrooms and Sterling Heights printing plant, were approved overwhelmingly, said Lou Mleczko, president of the Newspaper Guild of Detroit.

Mleczko said it was a good contract and that "nationwide, most newspaper contracts, where there are contracts, continue to seek wage and benefit concessions."

Under the previous two-year contracts, which expired in November, employees at both newspapers took pay cuts of 4.5% to 6.5%. The unions previously agreed to a wage freeze in 2009.

There are no concessions in the new contracts. They also switch employees from the Health Alliance Plan to Blue Care Network of Michigan and Blue Cross Blue Shield. The new coverage has comparable medical and dental benefits but with lower monthly premiums, Mleczko said.

The four unions covered by the contracts are the Newspaper Guild of Detroit, which represents the Free Press and Detroit News, plus Teamsters Local 372, Pressmen Local 13-N and Detroit Typographical 18.

The Free Press and the News newsrooms are independent, but for business purposes, function within a joint operating agreement overseen by the Detroit Media Partnership. The partnership is 95% owned by Gannett -- owner of the Free Press -- and 5% owned by MediaNews Group, the owner of the News.

Paul Anger, editor and publisher of the Free Press, said, "We're very pleased -- both sides worked well together in coming to an agreement."

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Distributed by MCT Information Services



Source: (c) 2013 Detroit Free Press