The Teamsters union that represents drivers at the Star Tribune ratified a new agreement with the company on Wednesday, moving the newspaper's owners one step closer to emerging from bankruptcy.

The agreement ends a standoff that had the company threatening to cancel the union's contract and the Teamsters threatening to strike.

Local 638 reached a tentative agreement Friday after a year of on-and-off talks and several weeks of intense negotiations. The impasse focused primarily on pensions.

The new contract covers 158 full-time equivalent workers who deliver the newspapers from the Star Tribune printing plant in Minneapolis to distributions depots.

Bob Moore, the local's business agent, declined to detail the vote totals but said there was "strong support."

The contract provides the company with approximately $4 million in cost savings, primarily through pay cuts.

Publisher Chris Harte said the agreement "is critical to our successful future" and should help the company achieve the savings needed to emerge from bankruptcy and return to financial stability.

The company is seeking $20 million in pay cuts from its 10 unions. The Teamsters' is the sixth signed contract with the company, and the last of the largest unions, which include mailers, pressmen and newsroom employees. The remaining four contracts involve relatively small bargaining units.

The Star Tribune has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since January as the result of too much debt and declining advertising revenues. Its lenders are owed about $400 million.