June 27, 2013 Last Updated 6:06 pm

Publisher threatens to close Newark’s Star-Ledger, union responds

The publisher of Advance Publications’ Star-Ledger in Newark, New Jersey yesterday threatened to shut down the paper as management continued its demands for major concessions from the unions.

“The Star-Ledger has lost a significant amount of money in the past several years,” publisher Rich Vezza wrote in a memo to staff, according to the NY Post. The daily newspaper, the publisher wrote, has lost nearly $20 million in 2012 and can expect to lose the same amount in 2013 (which makes you wonder why he is still employed as publisher, no?)

So to save costs, Vezza wants to outsource printing and production work to vendors, thus eliminating all those jobs.

UnknownWhile the threat may be a way to exact concessions, it may also be an attempt to set the stage for instituting the same radical outhaul of the print and distribution schedules that other Advance papers have seen, such as the Times Picayune in New Orleans. A number of Advance newspapers have reduced their daily home delivery to three days a week, while creating new publishing entities that essentially are a way around existing labor agreements (Vezza denies this, saying “there are no plans for that, this is strictly a labor issue at the Star Ledger.”)

The union responded with a message of its own:

“Star-Ledger publisher Richard Vezza’s announcement that he will cease publication unless a settlement is reached with all the unions is another sad and pathetic attempt to pound all of our union brothers and sisters into a state of submission,” Ed Shown, President of the Council of Star-Ledger Unions and Teamsters-GCC Local 8N wrote in a statement.

“Vezza speaks of a lack of meaningful negotiations, but when a company demands 55 percent of our entire wage package it is the company itself that reflects a lack of meaningful negotiation.”

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