Two labor unions representing the majority of The Plain Dealer’s workforce have voted to extend contract concessions for another year. In exchange for their sacrifice, management has kindly agreed not to lop any more heads in that time.
The original pact, which dates to June of last year, was made by the Teamsters and Newspaper Guild editorial union in order to trim $5 million from the budget via wage reductions of up to 12 percent for editorial workers. The cuts were achieved through a mix of wage reductions and furlough days. (A third union, the Pressmen, which represents printing-facility workers, has a similar deal that is subject to renewal soon.)
“It’s a bitter pill, of course,” says Guild chair Harlan Spector, who declined to identify how close the vote was. “But people were glad to have job protection. Given what’s going on in this industry, it’s a good thing to have.” Comparable cuts and wholesale roster slashes have been epidemic in the print-media business.
According to a PD source, just two non-union management employees — reader representative Ted Diadiun and photo editor Jeff Greene — accepted recent buyout offers, raising the likelihood that top brass will invite others to join them in the unemployment line. In April, more than 40 non-union editorial employees, most of them editors, accepted buyout offers of six months’ pay with continued health-care benefits.
The PD labor-relations office did not return Scene’s calls, quite possibly because there’s nobody left to answer the phone.