On Labor Day, Guild awaits Lee’s decision

As readers and advertisers rallied to #KeepMissoulaIndy, The Missoula News Guild bargaining team met with Lee Enterprises on Aug. 30 for two days of scheduled negotiations.

Negotiations lasted just an hour.

The Guild rejected a company proposal to eliminate up to three-quarters of Indy staff. Instead, we proposed an approach that would provide space for the union and Lee Enterprises to work together to make the Indy stronger.

The elements included:

  • Identifying financial targets and a time period during which the paper must meet them.
  • Establishing a joint staff-management visioning committee to identify new ways of serving readers and advertisers.
  • Immediately moving into a smaller office.
  • Continuing the enhanced use of independent contractors.
  • Negotiating a cross-selling agreement between Indy and Missoulian sales teams.

This approach would provide a framework for Lee to uphold its commitment in April 2017 to build on the paper’s success.

The Guild is hopeful the company will take this opportunity to experiment with its first and only alt-weekly newspaper.

The company fiscal year ends this month, and the company’s representatives said other corporate officials will soon decide how to proceed with the Indy in that context.

With the present outpouring of community support, Lee Enterprises is also considering its decision in public view, with full knowledge that readers and advertisers will hold the company accountable for its actions.

Despite a blackout in the pages of the Missoulian and the Independent, the #KeepMissoulaIndy campaign has generated hundreds of social media posts, attempted advertising buys, and a slew of creative and heartfelt videos from organizations including BASE, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, and the Montana Film Festival.

The campaign continues with an awareness event on Friday, Sept. 7 at the Union Club, 7-9:30 p.m.