Detroit JOA Consolidates Labor, HR

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

With the labor turmoil of the mid-1990s now a fading memory, the joint agency for the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News announced today that it is consolidating its human resources and labor relations departments.

Detroit Newspapers President and CEO Frank Vega said the consolidation was prompted by the retirement of Tim Kelleher, who, as senior vice president of labor relations/legal, was a point man during the turbulent half-decade that followed a failed strike begun in July 1995 by four unions representing some 2,500 workers.

Randi Austin, who had been vice president/human resources, was named to the new position of vice president/human resources & labor relations.

“I’m taking over at a really nice time,” Austin said in a telephone interview. “We have in place (bargaining) agreements in place through ’07 with our larger unions, which includes the (Newspaper) Guild, the Teamsters and the Pressmen.” Agreements with some small craft unions that did not strike in 1995 should be in place soon, she added.

Austin, a Gannett Co. Inc. veteran since 1985, joined Detroit Newspapers in March 1995.

“Tim Kelleher had a long and lustrous career in labor relations and we all wish him well in retirement,” Vega said in a statement. “I’m pleased that we have the depth of talent internally in Randi Austin to combine these resources into one division.”

Detroit Newspapers runs the business, production and circulation for the News, owned by Gannett, and the Free Press, owned by Knight Ridder.

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