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Last Friday (Jan. 4), the Union-Tribune laid off 14 employees in the pressroom. That's out of a total of about 100, according to George Huber, secretary-treasurer of the union local, an affiliate of the Teamsters. Employees had wanted to get buyouts, as others in the company got, but were turned down because they belonged to a union. They received what was in their union contract. One pressman with 15 years of service got a check for four weeks of wages, vacation pay, and two weeks of "notice pay." (The employees had expected the layoffs around Christmas, hence received the extra two weeks.) The union has been picketing aggressively, and, in paid advertisements, asking San Diegans to drop their subscriptions. Huber, along with others in the union, believe the paper may not make it. Among the layoffs were one person who had suffered a stroke and another who had gone to Iraq twice with the military. I did not go to the U-T for comment because it has consistently refused to talk about personnel matters.

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Comments

Anonymous Jan. 8, 2008 @ 11:18 a.m.

let me be the first to say... the u.t. I too was let go and I cant wait till the paper goes out of buisness. gciu those leeches. They wanted new members to join a union that pays into a retirement fund they themselves can not receive. I give them a year and a half (wink Don) and then will renew my subscrition to the San Diego Reader.

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Anonymous Jan. 8, 2008 @ 11:20 a.m.

f.uck the ut and f.uck the GCIU WERE OMMITTED FROM THE PREVIOUS ENTRY

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Don Bauder Jan. 8, 2008 @ 12:03 p.m.

Response to post #1: Are you giving the U-T a year and a half, or the union? I understand one management employee in the pressroom is saying the U-T has a year and a half. I have previously said it has two generations, so if these others are right, I will have egg on my face. Incidentally, you don't need a subscription to the Reader. Just pick it up free at locations all over the county. Best, Don Bauder

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Anonymous Jan. 8, 2008 @ 12:39 p.m.

Print is a dying art, or should I say "paper" print. Tims they are a changin. If the UT goes under maybe the LA TIMES will take up the slack????

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Don Bauder Jan. 8, 2008 @ 12:07 p.m.

Response to post #2: The union is the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. I was the one who left the full name of the union out for readability purposes. So when the first one to post used gciu, some people didn't know what it was. I take the blame. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Jan. 8, 2008 @ 12:27 p.m.

It appears that the U-T is phasing out the newspaper and have redirected major resources to SignOnSanDiego.com and SignOnRadio, while KPBS, EnvisionSanDiego.org and VoiceofSanDiego.org are hanging onto their establishment controlled coattails for dear life.

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Anonymous Jan. 8, 2008 @ 2:06 p.m.

In reply to comment #1. The union presently has no retirement that they pay into and can get no money from. It did however have a co. sponsored fund which the co made deposits into a union fund. In the late 90's the co. quit paying into this account and deposited the money into an escrow account during the over 10 of contract negotations. The company after winning a court decision at the time(later overturned) gave the employees the money and told them they were giving them a pay raise!!!!! I am presently receiving retirement money from the union sponsored account so your are wrong in your statement of no way to get money from the fund. The co. wanted everyone to put their money into the co. sponsered fund, and tell new employees that the union had no retirement fund and they( the co.) did! Just another union busting tactic which seems to have worked on you too.

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Don Bauder Jan. 8, 2008 @ 2:32 p.m.

Response to post #5: I have stated for some time that it is clear the U-T is putting its resources behind SignOnSanDiego. But I don't think it plans to go out of the newspaper business any time soon. Others at the paper -- and in the community -- believe, as you do, that it is already trying to phase out of ink and paper and go all-electronic. You may be right and I may be wrong. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Jan. 8, 2008 @ 2:34 p.m.

Response to post # 6: The LA Times has huge problems, too. There are questions whether the kinky, leveraged deal of its parent, the Chicago Tribune, will get financing. Then what will happen to the Times? Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Jan. 8, 2008 @ 2:37 p.m.

Response to post #7: If what you say is true, it seems union members could get some redress from the courts, or are the courts too biased? Best, Don Bauder

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Anonymous Jan. 8, 2008 @ 8:43 p.m.

The Business section of the Sunday edition of the SDUT just recently axed the Wall Street Journal contributions...I will sorely miss columnists such as Jonathan Clements who provides the calm and rational financial advice profoundly lacking in other outlets (e.g., the breathless James Cramer and Suze Orman on CNBC).

Does however bring to mind a picture of David Copley giving Rupert Murdoch the boot!

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Anon92107 Jan. 9, 2008 @ 2:56 a.m.

Response to post #8: Maybe Copley will sell the newspaper to the San Diego Reader, some group that includes the Peninsula Beacon, Zell's L.A. Times, or even let employees takeover with a leveraged deal. As you seem to say, who knows how things play out these days, and the L.A. Times/Chicago Tribune/TV stations/Chicago Cubs deal isn't exactly a game that is over yet.

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Anonymous Jan. 9, 2008 @ 6:57 a.m.

Don, You seem to want your cake and be able to eat it to. Of course the press employees would want a rich buyout. But they chose to be in a union, not the UT. They chose to forego plans that non-union employees get. And most importantly, they chose to agree to the CBA that the union proposed. A CBA that obviously had not agreement on severence.

You can't in one breath say unions are great, then in the next breath, bust the company for following the guidelines of the contract. That is what unions do. They set up rules and regulations that are seperate from other employees. If they wanted non-union buyouts, sounds like they should have been non-union.

I am a staunch liberal and anti-establishment lawyer, but the union argument is so baseless. You make your bed, now sleep in it.

While there are so many easy opportunities to rip the UT, this is not one of them.

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Don Bauder Jan. 9, 2008 @ 7:36 a.m.

Response to post #11: I have heard several complaints about the U-T scrapping the Wall St. Journal insert. As to Cramer and Orman, keep in mind that they are entertainers -- something that is more true generally of TV talking heads than of print and ink commentators. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Jan. 9, 2008 @ 7:48 a.m.

Response to post #12: There are rumors that David Copley wants to sell the paper and become a Broadway producer, but at this point they are just latrine rumors. Rumors of the company's sale have been around for decades and none has ever eventuated. The question is: who would buy this paper? I doubt that a big chain such as Gannett would want an ailing metro daily in a once-booming market that has slowed to a crawl. William Dean Singleton, who owns a bunch of Bay Area papers, along with Southern California properties, and the Denver Post, among others, might have an interest in it. A big private equity firm might want it. However, Gatehouse, which bought the Ohio and Illinois papers from Copley, and is controlled by a big private equity group, is suffering economic woes. A local nabob wanting ego massage might want it: billionaires Ron Burkle and Eli Broad toyed with the idea of buying the LA Times, but it didn't happen. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Jan. 9, 2008 @ 7:57 a.m.

Response to post #13: The company was able to break the guild in the late 1990s by offering more generous benefits to those who rejected unions. The people in the pressroom preferred to stay unionized. You are quite right that for this layoff, the company said it would have to stick to the union contract. On the other hand, some say that a buyout could have been negotiated. If the company is able to keep order in the pressroom, then its penny-pinching will pay off. Remember, however, that this is the union that is picketing aggressively and trying to get people to drop subscriptions through its advertising. I have also heard -- but have not substantiated -- that most of those who were laid off were not dues-paying members of the union. Best, Don Bauder

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Anonymous Jan. 9, 2008 @ 10:42 a.m.

There is no way that the UT would have negotiated a buy-out with a union. They want to send a strong message through the rest of the organization that union members are punished. When the UT built an employee gym, the management specifically forbade union members from using it, as it was a non-negotiated employee benefit. When the unions wanted to negotiate for the gym, the UT smilingly put merit increases (anathema to a union) on the table.

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Anonymous Jan. 9, 2008 @ 1:30 p.m.

as one of those laid off ....let me say about 20 percent of the pressroom pays into the GCIU union. The press room is represented by the union as soon as the company hires you(like it or not) and some decide to pay dues that are not mandatory but most do not as their wages are lower than employees who have been with the company longer. The company gym by the way smells like hot ass , old tennis shoes and dying pressman.

Something sure does stink!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

down with the san diego union...........

down with GCIU

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Don Bauder Jan. 9, 2008 @ 2:59 p.m.

Response to post #17: In the 30 years I was at the U-T, I was on the management payroll. Over and over I heard management blame everything that went wrong on the guild. I always wondered whom they would blame once the guild went. The guild did disappear in the late 1990s. I don't know whom they blamed for the troubles. Certainly they never blamed themselves. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Jan. 9, 2008 @ 3:08 p.m.

Response to post #18: The hostility of you and your fellow workers is a revelation to me. (I have communicated with others by phone and email.) I always knew there were hard feelings in the pressroom, but I honestly did not know the situation was this bad. It makes one wonder if the company did the right thing by refusing to negotiate buyouts with pressroom people. Clearly, the company had a legal right to insist on going by the contract and its puny payouts. But it could have improved the dismal morale by negotiating buyouts. Perhaps it is too late. The company's long history of hatred of labor unions may not, in the end, prove to have served it well. Best, Don Bauder

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