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Cleveland: Plain Dealer tells union job cuts coming

5:55 PM, Dec 4, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Big changes are coming to the Plain Dealer.

And some specifics are being revealed, without disclosing a new business model.

The Newspaper Guild says the paper plans to eliminate about one-third of the newsroom staff in 2013.

58 positions of about 168 would be eliminated, either by layoffs or by transferring staffers to work on, the newspaper's website.

Reporter John Mangels who is overseeing a P-R campaign to preserve the daily paper said, " They're telling us the newsroom itself...will be cut by one third in the early months of next year. That would be devastating to what we're trying to in quality. I say that as a reporter and editor who has been there 20 years."

Advance Newspapers, the paper's owner, has gone to publishing three days a week and becoming more website focused at a handful of its other papers, including several in Michigan, Alabama, and New Orleans.

Similar changes are coming at papers in Harrisburg and Syracuse.

Reduced advertising and declining circulation are prompting big changes at most newspapers.

If The Plain Dealer became a 3-day-a-week paper, Cleveland would be the largest city in the country without a daily newspaper.

A no-layoff or concession agreement between the Guild and the Plain Dealer expires Jan. 31.

A long-term contract extension until 2013 is being discussed. Discussions include changes in health care and pension plans.

The Guild is making a counterpropsal to minimize job reductions.

It's hoping to get some of a 12 percent wage cut restored.

The discussions do not include a future business model for the paper.

Publisher Terry Egger said, " We are currently in discussions with the Newspaper Guild about a possible long-term exension of the current contract and various other issues. While it is our longstanding policy not to comment publicly on specifics while we are in negotiations, we are hopeful of reaching an agreement with the bargaining unit in the near future."

In previous statements, the paper's publisher and editor have said the paper is working to create a new model that serves readers and advertisers.

The Guild is conducting a petition drive, sending messages to the paper's New Jersey owners, hoping to preserve the 7-day paper.

There will be upcoming public forums about the paper's role and future.

Few local civic and business leaders have spoken out publicly in support of keeping the 7-day paper.

The Plain Dealer production plant is in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Mayor Richard Balbier is puzzled why more leaders are not concerned about the issue.

"I don't know why more people aren't speaking up about this...They talk about making it a 3-day a week paper. That's not good enough. It should stay a seven day a week paper," he said.



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