Star-Ledger publisher threatens to close paper

The Star-Ledger

Publisher Richard Vezza says he’ll shut down The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger at the end of 2013 if it can’t come to an agreement with one of the four unions at the paper, Kelly Heyboer reports.

The Advance-owned paper’s newsroom isn’t a union shop, but its pressmen, engravers, machinists and mailers — who “handle the newspapers after they emerge from the presses, helping insert advertising supplements and preparing the papers to be loaded on delivery trucks” — have unions. Negotiations with all but the mailers have been fruitful:

“The differences between the Mailers’ proposed savings and the Company’s proposed savings are so far apart that, while we are still hopeful that an acceptable resolution can be achieved, we have serious doubts that, with less than a month to go, an agreement can be reached,” Vezza said in the letter mailed to union members Wednesday and e-mailed to other employees Thursday.

Officials of the Teamsters-New Jersey Mailers Union 1100 said “they have not reached a deal because Star-Ledger officials proposed more than $4.4 million in cuts, including eliminating 55 of the mailers’ 121 highest-paid workers in addition to eliminating pension and retirement benefits and reducing lower-paid mailroom helpers to a four-day workweek.” Vezza says their offer is $2 million less than the savings the paper needs to continue operations.

The Star-Ledger laid off 34 employees, including 18 in the newsroom, in January. Vezza also threatened to close the newspaper in June.

Interstate General Media threatened to sell or close its Philadelphia newspapers at the beginning of this year unless unions made more concessions. (Eventually they found room to negotiate.)

The Boston Globe endured a shutdown threat in 2009.

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  • Edmund Singleton

    Some unions are killing us…

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  • markisenberg

    Those of us former Jersey subscribers of the Star Ledger know it is not the same paper as it was even three years ago so it will be no surprise if the wealthy family owners who have gutted the New Orleans paper among others,shut it down in December. NJ.com will continue in some form for online news and the rest of Jersey media lovers can just listen to semi-awful radio 101.5 for Governor Christie updates. Tony Soprano would be visiting the Publisher to make him an offer he could not refuse,in a perfect world. Sigh.