Teamsters Reject Philadelphia Media Contract Offer

By: E&P Staff

A day after The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News machinists, who represent about 44 employees, rejected a contract offer, and a day before the company is slated to exit  bankruptcy, the papers’ delivery drivers on Aug. 29 voted down, 182-3, a tentative contract agreement between Teamsters Local 628 and Philadelphia Media Network, the newspapers’ new owner.

Approving contract offers over the same two days were mailers, porters, security guards, and mechanics. Pressmen’s, paper handlers’, and operating engineers’ unions vote Aug. 30. Newspaper Guild Local 38010, which represents 515 newsroom personnel, as well as some advertising, circulation, and finance staffers, voted overwhelmingly last week to accept a three-year contract.

Philadelphia Media Network has been trying to reach agreements with 14 unions by Aug. 31, when it is scheduled to exit bankruptcy and complete the sale of the Inquirer, the Daily News, and the Philly.com Website, which reported Sunday’s vote by Teamsters.

The company was bought in a bankruptcy auction in April for $139 million. Philadelphia Media Network, whose owners include Angelo, Gordon & Co. and CIT Group, has not said what it will do if contracts are not completed by the deadline, though, as Inquirer staff writer Christopher K. Hepp reports, “it can It has the right to walk away from the sale if contracts with the unions are not settled.”

Teamsters Local 628 President John Laigaie said he thought drivers were most concerned about the new owners’ intention to no longer fund all union pension plans.

Neither Laigaie nor Philadelphia Media Network Chief Operating Officer Bob Hall were sure how negotiations would proceed. The company expects to meet with the drivers Monday.

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