Journal Newspapers, Guild in Settlement Talks

By: Lucia Moses

Alexandria, Va.-based based Journal Newspapers and the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild are working toward settling unfair labor practice charges that stemmed from cutbacks at the papers last December, according to the guild.

The guild filed the charges with the National Labor Relations Board after Journal Newspapers, which publishes three suburban Washington, D.C., dailies, scaled back its Prince George and Montgomery offices and fired most of those papers’ news staffs.

The cutbacks came less than two weeks before staffers were scheduled to vote on whether to unionize, and the union accused the company of trying to disrupt the vote. The company maintained it was acting to offset weak ad revenue.

Journal Publisher Ryan Phillips wouldn’t comment on the status of the case.

Separately, Phillips said he won’t take legal action against the Washington Post Co. over its plans to use the name “Express” for a planned commuter tabloid. Journal Newspapers published a group of weeklies by the same name until the late 1990s. Phillips’ reason: “We haven’t used it in a few years.”

Previously, Phillips had been considering legal action.

In its own bid for commuters’ attention, Journal Newspapers is converting its distribution at D.C.-area transit stops from paid to free.

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