Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What's really behind the failed sale of The Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time?

First, we want to congratulate the UAW local for fighting for its members at The Stamford Advocate.

Second, we don't for a minute think the union is to blame for the failure of Tribune to close the sale of the those 2 papers.

Maybe the deal started to unravel when Gannett demanded that Stamford Advocate newsroom staff reapply for their jobs in violation of the union contract.

Then after a judge upheld an arbitrator's decision requiring the employees' collective bargaining agreement be included in the Tribune/Gannett deal, Gannett sought to revise language of the sale agreement that would "compensate for the union contract", according to a Gannett spokesperson.

Could an agreement covering 34 newsroom staff derail the deal? We doubt it. "We have a very modest contract, nothing that Gannett couldn't handle," Maida Rosenstein, UAW Local 2110 told Greenwich Time

So here's the thing: Like Tribune, Gannett is a union employer. It has bought Guild-covered properties in the past, like the Indianapolis Star-News and The Sheboygan Press (Wisconsin) and assumed the union contracts.

So what really happened to the deal in Connecticut? Why did Gannett go to such an extreme to haggle out a deal that would "compensate" it for a union's representation at one of the papers?

Blaming the union would be just too convenient. Could it be that the deal fell through because the amount Gannett agreed to pay didn't look so good months after they originally made the $73M deal?

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