Brandon Hernández 9 a.m., July 29
Union-Tribune Warns Union of 40 Percent Wage Slash, Healthcare Cuts; Teamsters To Resume Campaign To Cut Paper's Circulation
The Union-Tribune has declared that negotiations with 160 packaging department employees represented by the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are at an impasse. Pat Marrinan, manager of labor relations for the company, told the union in a letter this month that unless the workers caved in Feb. 25 and 26, the company would unilaterally impose severe slashes: wages would be reduced by 40 percent (a packager would make $10 an hour, for example), and healthcare contributions would be sliced. Workers would have to pay 30, 40 and then 50 percent of healthcare coverage over 3 years. Their families would no longer be covered, unless the workers pay 100 percent of the cost. The union is having none of it. It will hold a demonstration Feb. 26, and also launch another campaign to lower the paper's circulation and get advertisers to drop ads. Jeff Alger, a Teamsters organizer, says the last campaign shaved 50,000 from the paper's circulation. (Demographic and technological factors were no doubt key, along with the decline of the paper's quality.) Marty Keegan, another Teamsters organizer, says the company has said that it is making money -- in fact, "made a $100 million profit last year," he says. That is not credible. Copley Press sold a bunch of papers in April of last year, reducing its annual revenue to $390 million, and probably a good deal less. The company has stated it is suffering deep revenue losses. It is faintly plausible that the company earned a net of $100 million in 2006, when revenue was $550 million. I unsuccessfully tried to get responses from three U-T executives.