JUDGE BLOCKS HOLLINGER-COPLEY DEAL

By: Staff Reports

Union Dispute Results In Restraining Order





A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking
Copley Press Inc. of La Jolla, Calif., from selling The News
Sun of Wakegan, Ill., to Hollinger International Inc. of
Chicago.



Representing editorial workers at the paper, the Chicago
Newspaper Guild filed a lawsuit last week claiming the sale would
allow Hollinger to ignore a collective-bargaining agreement
reached with Copley. A U.S. district judge barred the sale of the
paper for at least 10 days so that Copley can reword the
agreement.



The union was able to hold up the sale at least temporarily
because the paper’s contract with its 20-person editorial unit
includes a so-called “successors and assigns” clause that states
the contract must be honored by the new owner in the event of a
sale or transfer. In the great majority of newspaper asset sales,
the buyer generally contends that the purchase does not include
any union contracts.



“Certainly the court took the position that the successors-and-

assigns clause is serious,” said Gerald Minkkinen, executive
director of the Chicago Newspaper Guild. “The court said, ‘Look,
until this is cleared up, the sale cannot go forward.'”



The Guild’s only other unit in the cluster of Copley Chicago
newspapers included in the sale to Hollinger is a 33-person
editorial unit at The Herald News in Joliet. But that
contract does not include a successors-and-assigns clause,
Minkkinen said.



Minkkinen told E&P Online Wednesday that Copley had agreed to
“expedited arbitration” on the contract issue at the News-

Sun, but that it was unclear whether the two sides could come
to terms before the temporary restraining order expires Dec. 8.



In October, Hollinger announced its intention to acquire Fox
Valley Press from Copley. The group includes four dailies (The
Herald-News, The Beacon News, The Courier News, and The
News Sun), one thrice-weekly, 11 free community weeklies, and
one shopper.



While the restraining order only applies to the News Sun,
as a practical matter, the issue will likely hold up the entire
sale.







Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher.

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