Union announces tentative deal with News, Free Press

The Detroit News

The union representing newsroom staffers for Detroit’s two daily newspapers says it’s reached a tentative contract agreement with The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press.

After eight days of joint bargaining, The News and Detroit Free Press reached a new collective bargaining agreement with the Newspaper Guild of Detroit Local 34022, the union announced Friday.

The accord calls for a 4 percent salary increase over the three years of the contract: 1.5 percent the first two years and 1 percent the third. It also includes a $700 bonus for all employees, according to the union.

The worker’s health insurance coverage would remain the same, with no increases in co-payments or deductibles during the three years, according to the union.

The journalists had been working without a contract since the last one expired on March 19. The wage increase is retroactive to that date.

The union said it wasn’t crazy about the agreement but that it was better than continuing without a contract.

“The real issue is, what are the alternatives?” the Guild bargaining committee said in a statement. “In the absence of a contract, many bad things can happen.”

The committee is recommending union members ratify the proposal.

Members will vote on the contract April 24 after two informational meetings are held April 21 and April 22.

Jonathan Wolman, editor and publisher of The News, declined comment Friday night.

The Free Press told the union it may impose layoffs as its corporate owner, Gannett, continues to consolidate copy desk and page design duties around the country.

The union got the paper to agree to forestall such layoffs for 18 months, according to the agreement.