Teamsters approve two-year pact with newspapers

Posted: January 29, 2013

The Teamsters local at The Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News overwhelmingly approved a new two-year labor contract with Interstate General Media that allows for continued publication of the two newspapers, the head of the union, John Laigaie, said Sunday night.

Without giving an exact count, Laigaie estimated 98 percent of the members who voted Sunday approved the contract. Local 628, based in Montgomery County, represents about 300 truck drivers, security officers, building service employees, and others.

Laigaie declined to discuss the economic provisions in the contract, though he noted buyouts were offered to members. The contract protects full-time jobs, he said.

"We're not happy," he said, "but we're hopeful that the new owners, with the right management team, can do things with the newspaper that will keep us employed for several years going forward."

Interstate General Media is negotiating with its other unions to cut costs. If the company gets the concessions it seeks, Laigaie said, the Teamsters' contract will provide for the continued publication of the two newspapers for two years at the same frequency they currently publish.

The Newspaper Guild, which represents reporters, photographers, ad salespeople, and others in the newsrooms, has told its members the company owners threatened to liquidate or sell the assets of the company if it could not find sufficient cost savings.

The guild told its members in an e-mail Friday it would resume negotiations Monday. Other unions are expected to vote on new labor agreements in the next week.

Laigaie said he hoped the other unions would do what they could to "keep the papers going for a couple of years, and let's see what happens."

Mike Lorenca, chief operating officer for Interstate General Media and the company's lead negotiator, declined to comment Sunday because of ongoing negotiations. He referred comment to publisher Bob Hall, who could not be reached Sunday night.

Contact Jonathan Lai at 856-779-3220,, or follow on Twitter @elaijuh.

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