Philly union says Tierney-could-return rumor is false

From: Guild Bulletin
Date: Wed, Sep 1, 2010 at 12:41 PM
Subject: An update on closing, an attempt at rumor control, and an invitation to the Labor Day Parade

Dear Guild member,

As you should have read by now, the closing date for the sale of the Daily News, Inquirer and Philly.com to Philadelphia Media Network, Inc. has been postponed to Sept. 14 in order to give the new company additional time to come to terms with several unions that have yet to ratify their agreements. Our contract will not take effect until the sale is completed and we will be certain to update the membership with any pertinent developments.

Let us take this opportunity to try and clear up a rumor that Brian Tierney started when he told employees at the Schuylkill Printing Plant that if a union fails to sign a contract with the new owners, he returns. While this has spread like wildfire, it is not true.

Guild members have asked us if Mr. Tierney was behind local philanthropist Ray Perelman being paraded through 400 N. Broad Street on the day of our ratification vote last week. The answer is not clear although Inquirer Editor Bill Marimow told his staff in a news meeting that Perelman, who had partnered with Tierney and other insiders as the so-called Stalking Horse bidder during the auction, was looking at financial data in case the lenders didn’t close and he had to step up to bid.

Bankruptcy Court Judge Stephen Raslavich, who according to a KYW Radio report warned against “gamesmanship” so late in the process, called a private conference in his chambers the following day after which Philadelphia Media Holdings CEO Joe Bondi gave a statement to the radio station that there was no Perelman bid.

But wait, you might say, I thought Tierney pledged to make this a smooth transition. Isn’t he supposed to go away, stay quiet and collect his $300,000 “consulting” fee? Yes, that is what he agreed to. We can’t say for certain that Tierney is working to delay and derail the closing process. However, as his departure settlement stipulates that he is to be paid through closing, and six months beyond, certainly there would be a financial motivation for him to do so. That fact coupled with his misleading workers into believing he magically returns if anything goes wrong with the sale, seem to suggest there could be gamesmanship at play.

Several other senior management officials, whom the new owners have pledged to pay for two months beyond closing, and who are involved in the contract and bankruptcy process, also potentially have a reason to sabotage negotiations and delay closing.

But enough about those who are standing in our way. Our members stepped up and voted overwhelmingly in support of a concessionary contract because we are committed to helping the new company and these newspapers succeed. We sincerely hope that after 18 months, this bankruptcy is coming to an end and we can all move forward into the future. Stay tuned for any updates.

While we have your attention, the Guild is looking for volunteers to march in Monday’s Labor Day Parade along Columbus Boulevard. If you are interested in participating in the parade, which includes lunch and a t-shirt, please reply to this e-mail with your t-shirt size.

In solidarity,

Dan Gross, President,
Bill Ross, Executive Director, The Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia/Communications Workers of America Local 38010

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