Pioneer Press asks workers to take week-long furloughsby Jessica Mador, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Union workers at the Pioneer Press will decide whether to accept the newspaper's request that non-union workers take a week of unpaid time-off starting as early as next week.
The unpaid furloughs would be a cost-savings measure by Pioneer Press parent company MediaNews Group. The Newspaper's Guild members will vote Friday on whether to accept the week of unpaid leave between Feb. 9 and the end of April.
The company is requesting unpaid furloughs from non-union workers, but union members must agree to the provision. The paper has 307 Newspaper Guild members and a little over 400 workers would be affected by the unpaid leaves.
Newspaper Guild Unit Officer Dave Orrick said the unpaid leave comes at a tough time for workers and their families.
"We understand the position that the company is in and the challenges it faces but this is a real challenge in the winter," Orrick said. "When heating bills are high, and with such short notice people who are paycheck to paycheck are going to have a really hard time planning this much unpaid time in such a short period."
The paper's management was not willing to guarantee that the unpaid furloughs would prevent layoffs during the 10-week period.
Seventy percent of the unpaid furloughs would happen by March 31, the end of the fiscal year's first quarter. The remaining furloughs would be required by April 30.