Pressmen's OK moves newspapers' sale closer

Teamsters, machinists only holdouts among 14 unions

Posted: September 08, 2010

The formal sale of the Daily News and Inquirer to new owners moved a step closer yesterday when another of the company's unions agreed to a new contract.

The union representing pressmen agreed to ratify their contract by a vote of 48-28.

"I'm proud of the members who stood up and accepted a contract that wasn't the best but gives them a chance to survive and gives the company an opportunity to grow," said Joe Inemer, president of the Teamsters local that represents them.

The sale of the papers and their Web site, philly.com, to their new owners, Philadelphia Media Network Inc., is contingent on their reaching contract agreements with 14 unions.

Last week, the union representing operating engineers ratified its contract. That leaves just two union locals - representing delivery truck drivers and machinists - who haven't agreed to contract terms yet.

Teamsters Local 628, which represents 340 drivers, has scheduled a ratification vote for Sunday, said Greg Osberg, Philadelphia Media Network's CEO.

Osberg said negotiations with the machinists were ongoing but declined to discuss specifics.

He did say that Philadelphia Media Network expected to reach agreement with both remaining unions by Tuesday, the deadline set by Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stephen Raslavich to complete the sale of the newspapers.

Both the machinists, who represent about 44 employees, and the Teamsters previously rejected proposed contracts on Aug. 28 and Aug. 29.

The Associated Press reported that the machinists plan to vote on a contract on Sunday.

Bill Wheeler, business manager for the International Association of Machinists Local 648, and John Laigaie, president of Teamsters Local 628, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Yesterday's vote by the pressmen brings to 12 the number of bargaining units that have agreed to various concessions in new contracts proposed by Philadelphia Media Network, which successfully bid at an auction for the newspapers and philly.com to bring them out of bankruptcy.

The largest of the employee unions, Newspaper Guild Local 38010, which represents 515 reporters, editors, photographers, designers and others, voted overwhelmingly on Aug. 24 to accept a three-year contract, which includes a 2 percent wage cut and two weeks of unpaid furloughs.

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