Tags: star | ledger | facing | closure

Star-Ledger Facing Closure Amid Stalled Labor Negotiations

Thursday, 05 Sep 2013 04:12 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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The Newark Star-Ledger — New Jersey’s largest daily newspaper — could be shut down at the end of the year if agreements with its unions can’t be reached, the paper’s publisher warned Thursday.

In a letter to employees, publisher Richard Vezza said millions of dollars in labor concessions must be made to keep the Pulitzer Prize-winning paper open.

While negotiations with three unions — the pressmen, engravers, and machinists — appear to be nearing agreements, little progress has been made with the mailers' union, he said.

It’s the second time this year, Vezza has threatened to kill the paper. In June, he said the publication would close Dec. 31 if the four unions did not agree to $9 million in labor concessions by Sept. 27.

"The differences between the Mailers proposed savings and the Company’s proposed savings are so far apart that, while we are still hopeful that an acceptable resolution can be achieved, we have serious doubts that, with less than a month to go, an agreement can be reached," Vezza said in the letter.

He pointed to comments made during recent bargaining sessions as real cause for concern.

"Based on comments made at several bargaining sessions by members of the Mailers’ bargaining committee, such as – 'go ahead and shut it down' and 'we’ll supply the lock,' it appears that they would rather see the Ledger cease publication, rather than provide sufficient savings to keep the newspaper operating and save jobs," Vezza wrote.

But Ed Shown, president of the Council of Star-Ledger Unions, sounded more hopeful in an article published in the Star-Ledger.

"Ultimately, we are going to get a deal. They are working hard to close the gap . . . Nobody wants to see the doors shut, that's absolutely for sure," he said.

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