NJ Newspaper Threatens to Close Sans Union Deal
NEWARK, NJ—The ownership of The Star-Ledger is threatening to close New Jersey’s largest circulation newspaper by the end of the year if its production unions fail to make concessions in its contract negotiations.
Publisher Richard Vezza, in a letter to the paper’s staff, said the company felt it was “pushed into a corner” in its dealings with the unions, whose contracts expire in July. Absent any compromises by Sept. 27, Vezza said the paper will shut down. The move would not impact the newspaper’s Website, NJ.com, which is owned by a separate company.
Vezza told The Associated Press that the deadline is not a threat but a reality. The Star-Ledger is the cornerstone of a group of newspapers under Advance Publications, a privately held company owned by the Newhouse family.
The production unions issued a joint statement in which they said their study of the newspaper’s ad revenues were different than those the company reported. They feel the newspaper is trying to coerce production workers into accepting steep wage cuts.
Ed Shown, president of the Council of Star-Ledger Unions and one of the Teamsters locals, said the newspaper is demanding a 55 percent cut in the entire wage package. He believes this shows a lack of meaningful negotiation on the part of the company, the AP reported.
Vezza said The Star-Ledger lost $19.8 million in 2012, a figure it will likely repeat this year, according to the AP. It lost $12 million in 2011.
The newspaper threatened a similar closure in 2008, but the publisher and unions were able to hammer out an agreement a few months later.
Of its 771 employees, 240 work on the production staff with another 170 in the newsroom.