Bleeding Red Ink, Philadelphia Newspapers See Survival In Union Givebacks
By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The financial woes of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News, and philly.com are continuing, and management of the parent company says it expects further concessions from the unions to cut costs.
Newspaper CEO Bob Hall this week sent an e-mail to all workers stating that revenues for parent company Interstate General Media are down $16 million so far this year.
He says changes in the structure of the entire company are coming, and he says pending contract talks with nine of the paper’s ten unions will be “the toughest challenge we have ever encountered as a company.”
“We are going to be seeking concessions and think that the union leadership is very conscientious of that,” says Hall’s spokesman, Mark Block. “They recognize that this has been a very difficult time.”
Contracts with the nine unions expire October 8th. The contract of a tenth union, the Newspaper Guild — representing editorial staff — expires a year beyond that.
“Our members are willing to listen (to management’s requests for concessions),” said John Laigaie, president of Teamsters Local 628, which represents newspaper drivers and dispatchers, today. “However, we want to hear what Bob Hall is making as publisher. We hear he got a very large raise to take that position.”
And Laigaie said formal talks between his union and management have not yet gotten underway.
“We have a lot of questions to ask them about their management of the papers,” he said.
Guild representatives would not comment for our story. An e-mail from union leadership to Guild members, though, indicated that the union would refuse to discuss concessions in the current contract.
The Guild e-mail said that Hall expects $28 million in concessions from all ten unions, including $8 million from the Guild. Bloch, the company spokesman, said he could not confirm those figures. But he promised more announcements in the near future.
“And as those talks (with the unions) continue,” Block told KYW Newsradio, “there will be rapid developments in the next few weeks that we’ll keep everyone apprised of. But as of right now, those conversations are happening behind doors.”
When asked if further job cuts were coming, Block said workforce reductions are “not the favored choice of how to proceed,” but that “it’s difficult to say what will happen.”