By: M.L. Stein
Union Targets Dean Singleton p.
Guild accuses his newspaper of bad-faith bargaining and union-busting, calls the Southern-born owner a ‘cartpetbagger’
THE OAKLAND (CALIF.) Tribune and four other dailies in the Alameda Newspaper Group (ANG) are targets of a union-led consumer and advertising boycott.
The boycott, which newspaper officials termed ineffective, was called by the Alameda County AFL-CIO at the request of the Conference of newspaper Unions (CNU).
CNU, in turn, acted at the request of the Northern California Newspaper Guild, which has been in negotiation since 1987 with ANG over a contract for editorial, business, delivery and maintenance employees.
The Guild accuses ANG of bad faith bargaining and also has leveled charges against the group of “”union-busting, mass firings”” and ignoring worker safety, all for which were denied by publisher J. Allan Meath and editor in chief Robert Cochnar.
In an interview, Guild and CNU organizer Richard Holober blamed Dean Singleton for most of labor’s problems with ANG, calling him a “”Texas carpetbagger who feels no responsibility to workers.””
The Southern-born Singleton, who now lives in Colorado, is one of the owners of ANG’s parent company, Garden State Newspapers Inc., and is chief executive officer of the Media News Group, which owns the Denver Post and several other newspapers. He negotiated the sale of ANG and the Oakland Tribune to Garden State.
“He [Singleton] has built an empire of newspapers by guying out struggling publications with other people’s money and then reducing the work forces, gutting the content of the papers and breaking unions,”” Holober charged.
CNU asserts that when ANG took over the Tribune Dec. 1, 1480 union jobs were cut, an accusation that Meath labeled “”ridiculous.””
“They are trying to create a problem that isn’t there,”” he continued. “”The truth is that we hired 250 people for the new Tribune, 200 of them from the old Tribune [which was owned by Robert and Nancy Maynard. We didn’t lay off anybody. We saved jobs. This was a new newspaper> We had no obligation to hire anyone from the old Tribune.””
Holber conceded that ANG had no legal obligation to retain all the former Tribune’s approximately 600 employees but added, “”We feel it had a moral obligation to rehire them.””
Richard Lower, an attorney for ANG’s law firm, King & Ballow, called the boycott “”pretty silly.””
“Their anger is displaced,”” he commented. “”They’ve got the wrong dog. We are the ones who provided jobs in Oakland. Instead of being mad at the Maynards for laying off all the Tribune’s employees, the decided to attack us.””
Lowe said ANG is “”95% close to an agreement”” with the Guild, a statement that Holober denied, saying the two sides are still far apart on the issue of wages.
Besides the Tribune, the ANG’s East Bay newspapers are the Alameda Times Star, Fremont Argus, Hayward Daily Review and the Tri-Valley Herald in Pleasanton. Since its acquisition by ANG, the Tribune has been printed in the company’s Pleasanton plant.
Editor Cochnar, in a column that appeared in the ANG papers, stated, “”The old Tribune management laid off nearly all its work force-and paid severance. Nobody was laid off by ANG.””
Cochnar also took a slap at the Tribune’s cross-Bay rival, the San Francisco chronicle, for its story indicating that Singleton had “”laid off all 600 workers”” when ANG bought the Tribune.
“Please take note that the Chronicle states as fact that ANG bought the Tribune and laid off all employees,”” Cochnar asked. “”Unionists say about the same thing. Too bad it’s not true.””
Meanwhile, the unions handed out thousands of leaflets in Oakland, urging the boycott. “”Oakland Tribune is bad news,”” they proclaimed.
Meath said the boycott effort has not”” made a dent”” in either circulation or advertising. *E&P
DATE: Sat 25-Sept-1993
PUBLICATION: Editor & Publisher
AUTHOR: M.L. Stein
LOCATION: Page 11
correction dean singleton union oakland tribune alameda newspaper group advertising boycott AFL-CIO CNU robert cochnar allan meath guild richard holober ANG
IN ITS AUG. 7 issue, E&P incorrectly reported that the Alameda Newspaper Group was negotiating with the Northern California Newspaper Guild for a contract covering editorial, business, delivery and maintenance employees. The negotiations involve only editorial employees. E&P was given the erroneous information by a Guild spokesman.