On July 8, members of the St. Louis Newspaper Guild rejected a second furlough request. In a previous vote, the union agreed to a furlough in exchange for a no-layoff guarantee from Lee. Lee countered, offering a guarantee of no layoffs through September in exchange for the weeklong furlough. That is the request the union rejected on July 8.
Lee and the union are working on a new contract. Lee started negotiations by asking for a 23 percent wage cut -- 15 percent in the first year and 5 percent each in the second and third years of the contract. Other proposals include:
- The ability to lay off employees for any reason and suspend employees for up to three days without "just cause."
- Eliminating of paid maternity leave, retiree medical and life insurance, 401(k) match and a guaranteed base for commission sales reps.
- Increasing the employee share of medical premiums to 30 percent from 25 percent.