The Blade of Toledo, Ohio, which expects to end a bruising nine-month lockout of some 200 workers through a settlement reached this week, is bracing for more tough times as plans form for further job cuts, wage reductions, and health benefit cutbacks.
Although the lockout of five of the paper's eight unions is expected to end when each bargaining unit ratifies the new contracts forged Wednesday, provisions in the new agreements that eliminate mandatory staffing levels and call for wage and benefit decreases mean that some of those voting on the new deal will not stay to see it through.
"There will be fewer people at The Blade come July 1," said Assistant Managing Editor LuAnn Sharp, a spokeswoman. That date, she noted, marks the beginning of the paper's fiscal year. "I would think it would be partly buyout, partly layoff, but I can't discuss the details because everyone hasn't voted yet."
Four of the five locked-out unions, representing paper handlers, engravers, mailers, and typographical workers, ratified their contracts Wednesday night, Sharp said. The fifth locked-out union, a Teamsters unit representing drivers, votes today.
Newspaper Guild employees, who were not locked-out and represent the most Blade workers, vote Friday. The paper's eighth union, which represents electrical workers, approved a new contract last summer.
During the lockout, Blade executives had said they wanted more flexibility in staffing in order to cut salary costs, noting that they only needed to hire some 80 replacement workers to do the work of the 200 locked-out employees. Sharp said each of the locked-out unions had mandatory staffing requirements in their previous agreements that will no longer be in place, allowing for job cuts. …