Sale Terms Fuel Dispute; Unions Mobilize to Fight Job Losses from Swap That Excludes Contracts

By Stein, M. L. | Editor & Publisher, August 30, 1997 | Go to article overview

Sale Terms Fuel Dispute; Unions Mobilize to Fight Job Losses from Swap That Excludes Contracts


Stein, M. L., Editor & Publisher


KNIGHT-RIDDER Inc. took over the Monterey County Herald in California Aug. 24--excluding union contracts --as the Newspaper Guild and two other unions authorized a strike against the paper to back up demands that Knight-Ridder honor labor agreements and retain all union workers.

Knight-Ridder spokesman Polk Laffoon said that of the 231 original employees at the Herald, circulation 35,000 daily, 39,000 Sunday, 204 had applied and 180 had been rehired, in addition to seven outside hires. Twenty-two others, he said, were given dismissal notices.

In a trade with Scripps Howard, Knight-Ridder acquired the Herald and the San Luis Obispo, Calif., Telegram-Tribune, while Scripps got the Boulder Daily Camera in Colorado. The deal increases K-R's position in Northern California, where it owns the San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Newspapers, formerly the Lesher Communications chain.

Members of the Newspaper Guild local, a unit of the Communications Workers of America; San Francisco Web Pressmen and Prepress Workers Union No. 4; and the Monterey Bay Typographical Union Local 651 authorized union leaders to call strikeS. They want their contracts with Scripps Howard preserved and all jobs protected in the transaction, according to Darren Carroll, a Guild international representative. He noted that the company did not insist on a rehiring procedure at the Telegram-Tribune, a nonunion shop.

"We want our folks to be treated fairly," he added. "We see this is as a basic moral issue. What Knight-Ridder is doing is disruptive and disrespectful of employees and the community"

Also on Aug. 24, the San Jose Newspaper Guild issued a statement saying the Hera/d building had been secured by a private security force and several employees had been notified they were being fired and "were ordered to come to the building between noon and 3 p.m. when they'll be forced to clean out their desks and immediately leave the building"

Laffoon, K-R's vice president for corporate relations, confirmed that the company had hired security guards to ensure a smooth changeover but denied the fired employees were given a three-hour deadline. …

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