Writers and photographers for the St. Paul Pioneer Press will withhold their bylines from today's paper, as part of an ongoing dispute regarding recent layoffs.
The symbolic one-day "byline strike" by members of the Minnesota Newspaper Guild comes after the June 30 layoffs of nine staff from the newsroom and two accounting employees.
The unionized reporters, columnists and photographers are calling the day "Black Friday," and plan to dress accordingly.
Union members had hoped to vote on whether to bargain concessions to avoid layoffs, according to a Guild statement released today. Union leaders say the newspaper's owner, Denver-based Media News, initially agreed to bargain, but then withdrew its offer and instead announced the layoffs.
"We're not protesting against the layoffs; we're protesting how they were done," said St. Paul crime reporter Mara Gottfried. "We know the company, like the entire newspaper industry, is under tremendous financial pressure and sees the need to cut its costs. But they chose a course that was disrespectful not only to workers, but also to readers and the entire metro. The larger community suffers when fewer journalists are gathering news and checking facts."
Byline strikes have a long history in newsrooms as a way to protest company decisions. The newspaper's union contract gives each journalist control over his or her name, an agreement that gives journalists the right to withhold their bylines.
The union plans to request a meeting with Pioneer Press publisher Guy Gilmore today to discuss the dispute.