Newspaper Guild agrees to early talks on contract

Posted: January 17, 2013

The largest union representing workers at the parent company of The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com has agreed to begin early bargaining on a new contract as management of the media company continues to seek ways to cut expenses.

The Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia told its members that it has agreed to resume bargaining with Interstate General Media L.L.C. Friday afternoon, but stressed that, should talks break down, the 550 members it represents would be protected under the current contract, which expires in October.

Guild officers indicated that the move they were taking was an unusual step.

In addition, the union said the deadline for its members - employees in the newsrooms and the advertising, circulation and finance departments - to consider applying for voluntary buyouts or reduced four-day workweeks has been extended to Jan. 25 from Jan. 18.

According to the Guild, nine members have applied for buyouts and six for reduced workweeks. The last workday for those accepted for buyouts would be Feb. 1.

Mark Block, a spokesman for Interstate General Media, said he could not comment on pending labor negotiations.

In a separate cost-cutting move, Interstate General Media announced that it would close its Philly Direct operation, an outbound-call center in Hatboro that focused on newspaper subscriptions, as of Friday. It did not say how many full- and part-time employees would be affected.

In an e-mail to all employees, the company said that it decided to eliminate Philly Direct after a "thorough analysis of how we can best reach new subscribers and maintain a more stable, ongoing relationship with our current subscribers."


Contact Mike Armstrong

at 215-854-2980 or marmstrong@phillynews.com, or @PhillyInc on Twitter.

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