Mich. unions say JRC has 'declared war,' threaten strike
Journal Register Company and 21st CMH Acquisition Co., the hedge fund unit that plans to buy it out of bankruptcy, have "declared war," a bulletin sent to union members says. The bulletin cites what it says are previous union-busting tactics in other markets. In Philadelphia and New York, the union says:
21st CMH sent letters to JRC employees telling them they could apply for their own jobs when 21st CMH becomes the employer. 21st CMH would selectively hire some employees. The new terms of employment by 21st CMH, according to the letters, include:
- 15% pay cut.
- employees pay 50% of health insurance cost and 50% of future premium increases.
- elimination of all pension plans.
- reduced vacation schedule.
- reduced severance pay if jobs are eliminated.
If the companies "continue on this war path, we expect to seek and obtain strike authorization," the union reps write. They plan to meet Sunday to discuss the unions' response. Dave DeLong, president of Teamsters Local 372, said in a phone call there wouldn't be a strike vote at the meeting. I've asked JRC for comment.
Guild units at three JRC-owned papers in suburban Philadelphia -- the Delaware County Daily Times, the Norristown Times Herald and the Pottstown Mercury -- approved contracts with 21st CMH this week, the Guild said in a press release. Among the provisions: The company can lay off only one person in the first year of the contract.
Journal Register Company sent WARN notices to all its employees in February, telling them their jobs were at risk in the company's bankruptcy restructuring. 844 employees in Michigan received the notices, Melissa Anders reported.
JRC filed for bankruptcy in September and signed a "stalking horse" agreement with 21st CMH in November. 21st CMH is a unit of Alden Global Capital, which already owns Journal Register Company. Poynter's Rick Edmonds explained the reason for that unusual arrangement in September.