Denver Newspapers to Start Talks on Union Contracts

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Bargaining units at The Denver Post and the Denver Newspaper Agency will begin contract talks with their respective employers following a request for wage and benefit concessions.

Tony Mulligan, administrative officer for Denver Newspaper Guild Local 37074, said members of the Post, DNA and Rocky Mountain News bargaining units met Monday night and had an “impassioned discussion” over requests from DNA and Post management to reopen their labor contracts.

He said the DNA and Post guild units met separately and decided to proceed with the talks.

MediaNews Group Inc., which owns The Denver Post and has a 50 percent stake in the Denver Newspaper Agency, asked unions at the newspaper and the DNA for wage and benefit concessions in December, guild representatives have said.

Mulligan said last week that a Communications Workers of America auditor confirmed the agency has $130 million in debt that needs to be renegotiated to avoid a default.

He said unions are being asked for $20 million in concessions.

Meanwhile, the E.W. Scripps Co. has yet to announce plans for the Rocky Mountain News, which has about 230 editorial employees.

Scripps said in December it was putting the newspaper up for sale along with its 50 percent stake in the Denver Newspaper Agency, which handles business operations for the News and the Post under a joint operating agreement. At the time, Scripps said losses at the News could reach $15 million for 2008 as advertising revenues failed to keep up with editorial expenses.

The deadline to submit bids for the News was Friday.

Mulligan and officers with the DNA and Post guild units said in a statement Monday night that guild members are “very concerned” about their colleagues at the Rocky Mountain News and the uncertainty they face.

Newspapers around the country are struggling to pay increasing costs for newsprint and personnel as competition from the Internet lures away ad dollars and subscribers. Woes in the housing and auto industries and in the job market also have curbed ad sales.

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