'Sun-Times' Guild Rejects Concessions Demanded by Bidder

By: E&P Staff Chicago Newspaper Guild members working at the Chicago Sun-Times Tuesday night overwhelmingly rejected a package of concessions that local financier James Tyree is demanding if he is to go ahead with his $25 million offer to buy the parent Sun-Times Media Group (STMG).

The vote was 83-22 to reject the proposed concessions that, in the words of the motion, "guts our contract and takes away most rights that protects our members."

The motion said the Guild's Sun-Times unit is "willing to bargain with the company on provisions that would help the company survive but not willing to give up all the rights of our members."

The rejection came after a long e-mail to STMG employees from Chairman and interim CEO Jeremy Halbreich that repeatedly warned Tyree and his group of investors will walk away from the deal if any union in the company rejects the concessions.

"If you REJECT the Amendments, the Buyer will withdraw its bid to purchase our Company's assets," Halbreich wrote, according to a posting of the memo on the blog of Chicago Reader media critic Mike Miner. "Consequently, all of our newspapers and Web sites will be shuttered and all 1,800 jobs across the Company will disappear."

Halbreich said if the sale to Tyree is not consummated, the company, now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, is likely to be forced into Chapter 7 liquidation.

The chain is likely to run out of cash if Tyree, who STMG says is the only bidder, withdraws his offer of $5 million in cash and the assumption of about $20 million in liabilities.

Halbreich and other STMG executives could not be reached late Tuesday night.


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