As contract negotiations begin at the Star Tribune, veteran reporter Steve Brandt tells his bosses about “the impact of the company’s pay policy on my well-being and that of our family.”
Journalists at the Minneapolis paper haven’t had raises since 2007, and the cost of living has risen 11.8% in the past five years, according to Brandt. “In fact, most of us are earning less than we have in years, due to reductions in merit pay,” the 61-year-old education reporter writes in an open letter posted today on the Strib Guild website.
That has had a negative impact on my family’s well-being. My wife and I now differ more over financial matters than we have at any time in our 37 years of marriage. We strive to live by a relatively conservative financial standard, paying off credit card bills monthly and incurring no long-term debt aside from our mortgage. We now find our paychecks straining to cover our monthly bills.
Brandt’s wife works for a nonprofit, “but even that organization has been able to squeeze out a percent or two raise each year,” he writes. “I believe that this company has the capacity to grant similar increases to its workers. That would truly signal a respectful workplace.” (His last sentence is a reference to this week’s “respectful workplace” training sessions at the Star Tribune.)
Brandt tells me he got a reply from publisher Mike Klingensmith that “expressed some sympathy, but stated their position …I regard it as a considerate letter.” (“I consider it a personal exchange,” Klingensmith said when I asked for his email to post here. Brandt declined to forward it without the publisher’s permission.)
Bargaining begins in two weeks. In the meantime, Strib journalists have been wearing green on Fridays and have desk placards that read, “Show Us the Green in 2013.”