Union agrees to bargain to help save Philly papers

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 17, 2013 at 5:07 pm •  Published: January 17, 2013
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The union representing journalists at Philadelphia's two major newspapers said Thursday that it will bargain a new contract to help prevent the troubled company from being liquidated.

Local Newspaper Guild leaders made the announcement after meeting with executives of Interstate General Media LLC, the group that owns The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and the website Philly.com.

Interstate had threatened last week to liquidate or sell its assets unless it got new labor agreements with all 11 unions by Friday, according to the Guild.

Ten unions have been working without contracts since October; the current Guild contract expires next October. On Thursday, the Guild agreed to negotiate a new deal while keeping current provisions in force.

"We were convinced that they were seriously considering selling off parts of the company," said Guild acting president Howard Gensler, a Daily News gossip columnist. "Our sense was that if we agreed to come to the table, they would not pursue liquidation at this time."

The company declined to comment.

For years now, the newspaper industry has been savaged by rising costs and declining advertising revenue as readers increasingly consume news for free online.

The Philadelphia newspapers have recently endured especially tumultuous times, with five owners since 2006.

Interstate General Media, made up several powerful local business leaders, bought the cash-strapped newspapers and website in April for about $55 million. The purchase included a printing plant in suburban Philadelphia.

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