Labor Rights

Guild to discuss possibility of employee buyout of Seattle P-I

Associated Press

The Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild has scheduled a meeting next Tuesday to discuss whether Seattle Post-Intelligencer workers are interested in investigating a possible employee buyout of the newspaper.

The union represents most P-I workers.

Guild Administrative Officer Liz Brown says the union is trying to figure out whether there is sufficient interest to bring in a consultant and seek state money for a feasibility study.

The Hearst Corp. put the newspaper up for sale Jan. 9 and said it would quit printing the paper in 60 days, perhaps maintaining an online-only P-I.

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Rumors of more layoffs, possible bankruptcy haunt Seattle Times

Sandeep Kaushik, PubliCola

Last November, when the Seattle Times announced its third round of layoffs in a year, Times executives strongly hinted that there would be more to come. “As the 2009 budgeting process continues, there will be additional expense reductions, which may include additional layoffs,” Times Publisher Frank Blethen and President Carolyn Kelly wrote in a memo to Times staff at the time. Word out of the Times then was that a new round of cutbacks could come as early as February. Rumors are swirling that the next round of layoffs could be coming soon.

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Sarkozy pledges €600m to troubled French newspaper industry

Angelique Chrisafis, Guardian UK

nThe French president Nicolas Sarkozy today announced €600m (£565m) in emergency aid for his country's troubled newspaper industry and declared that every 18-year-old in France would get a year's free subscription to the paper of their choice to boost reading habits.

The crisis-hit French press is among the least profitable in Europe, stifled by rigid communist print unions, a lack of kiosks selling papers and a declining readership far below that of the UK or Germany.

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Union-led conference considers future of media industry

Joe Strupp, Editor and Publisher

About 150 participants are expected at a Communication Workers of America conference this weekend in Baltimore aimed at addressing the crisis in all media, including newspapers.

Titled "Future of the Media Industry," the three-day event, which also includes the Newspaper Guild, will offer events that focus on today's media issues ranging from alternative ownership to training and union organizing in tough times.

"It's a discussion about the future of our industry, but with a union focus," said Bernie Lunzer, Guild president. "What can we do to help our owners who are struggling?"

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Seattle Times freezing nonunion pensions

Andrea James, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Four days after telling its nonunion employees that they each must take one week of unpaid leave, The Seattle Times has confirmed that it will also freeze their pensions.

The freeze takes effect Feb. 6 and stops benefit accruals for the current plan year. It does not affect the company's 401(k) plan.

"The specific savings related to this action are not going to be released publicly," Times spokeswoman Jill Mackie said. "We regret the effect of these decisions on our employees. We have a remarkable work force, and we are doing what we can to respond to the financial challenges we face during this unprecedented tough economy."

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Tech firms rally against pro-union card-check legislation

Julian Sanchez, Ars Technica

The Employee Free Choice Act—better known as "card check" legislation—is at the top of organized labor's wish list for the next Congress. But as card check moves from pipe dream to political possibility, wary tech firms are starting to rally in opposition.

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Seattle Times asks employees to take (unpaid) vacation

Associated Press

The Seattle Times on Friday asked 500 managers and nonunion workers to take a week off without pay in the face of mounting financial troubles at the newspaper.

Executive Editor David Boardman broke the news in a meeting with editors Friday morning.

Employees may take the week off all at once, one day at a time, or in multiple-day blocks, but it must be taken by the end of February, Alayne Fardella, senior vice president for business operations, wrote in a staff memo.

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Group signs deal to buy Blethen Maine Newspapers

Tux Terkel, Portland Press Herald

An investment group that includes principals who are well-known in Maine has signed a purchase agreement to buy the state's largest newspaper company by year's end, pending the completion of financing.

Maine Media Investment LLC signed the document Tuesday with Blethen Maine Newspapers, which owns the Portland Press Herald/ Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta and the Morning Sentinel in Waterville, and other media products in the state.

Both sides announced the sale late Wednesday. Each declined to disclose the price or other terms of the agreement.

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East Bay MediaNews workers vote for union

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey