Union Dispute Threatens Philadelphia Papers

The Philadelphia Newspapers sale doesn’t seem to have an end. Now the creditors who won the rights to the company, which owns The Inquirer and the Daily News, last week are threatening to shutdown the papers, if the new union contracts aren’t agreed upon soon.

According to Philly.com (which is also in the sale), first reported the new developments as the creditors and unions try to settle their disputes. Christopher K. Hepp writes:

The prospective new owners of the media company said the union that represents the 306 employees who bundle the papers for delivery had rejected a new contract, despite having previously voted to ratify a “substantially similar” offer. The situation brought warnings of dire consequences from the new owners, including shutdown of the papers.

The lawyer for the union, which represents workers called mailers, said the new owners’ assertion that his clients had rejected a new contract was “patently false.” The attorney, Michael Katz, said there were language issues in the contract that were resolvable. He blamed the new owners for exacerbating the situation, saying they have refused to give the mailers time to address their concerns.

The mailers’ decision to reject the contract means now two unions have declined to sign on to new union contracts. The truckers, which deliver the paper, voted against a proposed deal a couple weeks ago, which led to the Phildelphia Newspapers being placed back onto the auction block.

“There is now a significant risk of a strike or other job action which would irreparably harm the business,” said the new owners in a statement released to Philly.com. The statement continued, adding if that happened, the new owners would “permanently shut down the business.”

While the new owners continue to pursue other options, they have asked the current management team to warn employees of possible layoffs.

So much for that celebratory drink one has after buying a new business. Hopefully, this is just a power play to force the unions into signing the new labor contract. After all, why would the new owners, which just pennied up $105 million for the company, want to shut it down?