Union to fight Seattle switch p.8

By: Lucia Moses With fears of losing jobs and one of the city's newspapers, a union is protesting The Seattle Times' planned conversion to a morning paper.
The King County Labor Council plans to file an objection with the Justice Department to the proposed conversion, which would let the Times compete directly with its joint operating partner, the Post-Intelligencer. The conversion, which is expected to take two years, is pending approval by the Justice Department.
"It's our belief that once the Times goes head-to-head with the P-I, only one will actually succeed, and our area will be limited to one single source of information," says Miguel Gomez, business agent for Teamsters Local 174, which represents about 90 workers at the two newspapers.
Under the amended contract, the Hearst Corp., parent company of the P-I, would be the first potential buyer if the Blethen family sells its controlling interest in the Times.
Times president Mason Sizemore says he's confident both newspapers can survive in the a.m. cycle. "My assumption is that these two newspapers can compete and be successful."
Sizemore, who says he hadn't received official notice of the objection, says he believes the union's objection will have little impact on the conversion's approval.
The Times' daily circulation, while still greater than the P-I's, has slipped, and the newspaper says readers it surveyed indicated that they prefer a morning edition. In exchange for the conversion, the renegotiated JOA gives the P-I a bigger share of the profits.
Union officials concede they may not be able to stop the conversion by the Times, but they do hope to at least delay it.
No decision has been made on job losses associated with the conversion. Gomez predicts the conversion by itself will cut work hours by 30%. The unions and management have not begun bargaining over work schedule changes.
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