Philadelphia newspaper owners demand immediate concessions from union

The Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia
The new owners of the Philadelphia newspapers are demanding immediate concessions from the Guild that represents employees of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Daily News and Philly.com, union officials Dan Gross and Bill Ross write in a blog post.

They say Gerry Lenfest and Lewis Katz, members of the group of local businessmen who bought the news organizations in April, met with Guild reps and:

spoke of the dire financial situation facing the company, and reiterated management’s recent request that the Guild bargain a concessionary contract now, despite the fact that our contract with the employer is in effect until October 2013.

In a letter to employees last month, IGM CEO Bob Hall told employees revenue at the company was down $16 million from the year before. It told the Guild the same day it would seek $28 million in cuts.

In 2009 The Boston Globe’s Guild voted to accept an 8.3 percent pay cut after voting no on a previous worse offer. This was after The New York Times Company, which owns the Globe, threatened to shut down the paper if no deal could be reached. Poynter business analyst Rick Edmonds wrote about “the Guild’s weak bargaining leverage” afterward:

What were they going to do — strike? That might, at best, amount to a longish furlough and hiatus on losing money for the Globe‘s management and owners. Or it could end up shutting down the place.

Gross and Ross say the Guild will discuss cuts with management “if they are able to reach contracts with the other 9 unions who represent employees who produce and deliver the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News.”

Related: Testy talks between New York Times Company and Guild restart this week (The New York Observer) | Times Co. negotiator tells Guild, “The clock is ticking. You’re on notice.” (The Newspaper Guild of New York)

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