By: Jim Rosenberg
With printing and severance negotiations under way, when Dow Jones & Co. closes its Naperville, Ill., plant, the Chicago Tribune’s Freedom Center seems likely to take over printing The Wall Street Journal for distribution in the metro area.
While a Tribune spokesperson would neither confirm nor deny brief local reports that the Freedom Center will print the Journal, a Tribune executive told E&P late last night, “We do not have a contract.” A Dow Jones spokesman today said negotiations are in progress.
Teamsters Local 706 Secretary-Treasurer Tony Judge told E&P this afternoon that ?Tribune is in negotiations? with Dow Jones, and that the Freedom Center is ?doing trial runs? of the Journal.
Judge, whose union represents the Naperville plant?s pressmen and drivers, said the 50 employees are expected to be laid off as of Dec. 1, though some may remain another week or so. The Dow Jones spokesman said “there is no time line” for the plant’s closure.
The union is now negotiating a severance package for its affected members.
Dow Jones representatives had informed Naperville employees in late summer that the plant would close by year’s end (E&P Online, Sept. 16). The plant has printed the Journal for Chicago-area readers since the 1970s.
In a conference call with analysts yesterday, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of Dow Jones owner News Corp., said that of the 17 plants now printing the Journal, “our plan over the next year, maybe 15 months, would be to close 10 of those and outsource that printing to other newspapers — both the printing and the delivery.”
Savings from each closure are expected to amount to “at least 3 million [dollars],” he said. Murdoch also referred to plans to merge back-office operations.