Arbitrator Nixes Tribune Sale of Paper to Gannett — Over Union Issue

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An arbitrator found that Tribune Co.’s sale of The Advocate of Stamford to Gannett Co. violated a union contract because the terms do not require Gannett to honor newsroom employees’ collective bargaining agreement, according to court papers filed Monday by the union.

Local 2110 of the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America promptly filed a request to extend an injunction that a federal judge issued last month temporarily blocking the sale.

The union has said that Gannett doesn’t plan to honor the contract between Tribune and the union’s 36 reporters and photographers.

‘We are still in the process of understanding the arbitrator’s decision,’ said Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman. ‘We’ll continue working with the UAW to resolve this issue.’

A message seeking comment was left with a Gannett spokesman.

The arbitrator, M. David Vaughn, sustained the union’s grievance and ordered Tribune to refrain from executing any purchase agreement that excludes the collective bargaining agreement, according to legal papers filed by the union.

Tribune announced last month that it would sell The Advocate and Greenwich Time newspapers, with a combined circulation of 39,000, for $73 million. They are the smallest of Tribune’s 11 daily newspapers, which include The Hartford Courant, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and The (Baltimore) Sun.

Real estate mogul Sam Zell agreed to buy Tribune Co. in a complex deal valued at about $8.2 billion.

Tribune acquired The Advocate and Greenwich Time in June 2000 as part of its acquisition of The Times Mirror Company. If finalized, the papers would be added to Gannett’s 90 U.S. dailies, which includes USA Today.

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