New owner cuts staff, pay at Connecticut daily p. 17

By: George Garneau SIXTEEN employees have lost their jobs since Journal Register Co. acquired the Torrington, Conn., Register Citizen, and some part-time workers took pay cuts of 50? an hour.
The 17,000-circulation daily, which was profitable and had 100 full- and 40 part-time employees, was sold by Eagle Publishing Co. in part to reduce a debt load reported to be more than $20 million.
Eagle, which offered employees who lose their jobs up to five weeks of severance pay, retains the Berkshire Eagle, Pittsfield, Mass.; Brattleboro Reformer and Bennington Banner, both in Vermont; and Middletown (Conn.) Press.
As in its acquisition last month of the Norristown, Pa., Times Herald (E&P, Oct. 16, p. 13), Journal Register's asset purchase of the Register Citizen did not include union contracts of printers or press operators.
Also as in Norristown, Journal Register's standard compensation package required Register Citizen workers to pay sharply higher health insurance premiums.
Eagle chairman Michael C. Miller said the company's debt, which he declined to specify, "was a contributing thing but it also was the decline of advertising and revenues chainwide."
The weekly Litchfield County Times, New Milford, Conn., reported that Eagle owed $23 million and asked $12 million to $15 million for the Register Citizen.
Miller said Eagle's last acquisition, the Middletown paper several years ago, was "doing fine" and no further asset sales were being considered.
"This is a total fix," he said.
The Register Citizen newsroom, which two years ago had 33 people, had 23 at the time of the sale, when eight news staffers lost jobs.
Former managing editor Bonnie Andrews, who was on vacation when the acquisition was announced, said she learned that she had been replaced from a competitor.
As a manager with 15 years at the paper, Andrews said, she had expected, from takeover rumors, that she would be replaced.
She said she bore no hard feelings against either company but added, "The most discouraging thing was . . . the way it was done.
"It's a sad commentary on what is happening in this country, on the way employers are treating most people, who are simply told they are not going to be offered employment at this time."


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