N.J.'s Largest Paper Renews Closure Threat

The publisher of New Jersey's largest newspaper has renewed a threat to close the paper if he can't reach agreements with four production unions by the end of this month.
Publisher Richard Vezza sent a letter Wednesday to Star-Ledger employees threatening "to terminate publication of The Star-Ledger at the end of 2013 and lay off all employees" by Dec. 31 if agreements weren't reached by Sept. 27.
Negotiations with the unions representing pressmen, machinists and engravers were on track but talks with the mailer's union had stalled, Vezza said.
Vezza told The Associated Press on Thursday that the negotiations were "a delicate situation," and that he preferred not to comment extensively while they were ongoing.
The Ledger has been seeking to stem net operating losses that exceeded $19 million in 2012, according to Vezza's letter, adding that circulation, advertising and revenue had been in "rapid decline" since 2008.

The company is seeking to save $9 million a year by outsourcing production and packaging, and would only keep production in-house "if comparable savings could be achieved," according to the letter.

Steve Grant, the secretary-treasurer of the Teamsters Local 1100, which represents the 195 mailer employees at the Star-Ledger, said they took issue with several of the assertions Vezza made in the letter.

"(Vezza) appears to be under the impression that coming to an agreement with our bargaining unit must be done completely at the expense of our members," Grant said in a statement. "What he is asking for is a 44 percent across-the-board cut,  the sort of cut which will eliminate these types of jobs as good, middle class jobs."
Vezza first issued a threat in June to close the paper as a last resort.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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