Blade seeks cuts in union jobs, wages, benefits
Toledo Free Press
In a first-round contract proposal to its guilds, Block Communications Inc. (BCI) has asked employees of The Blade for cuts in benefits, a 20-percent reduction in salaries and the elimination of approximately 138 jobs.
According to “scorecard’ documents given to Toledo Free Press by a Blade union member, BCI is seeking to reduce its operating costs by $13.1 million.
Proposed reductions include a permanent freeze of pensions and a 20-percent wage reduction for all bargaining units as well as the elimination of roughly 83 full-time and 55 part-time positions (typographical errors in the documents were corrected by Toledo Free Press; the uncorrected “scorecard” lists a total loss of three part-time staff and 135 full-time employees).
Other cuts include the outsourcing of prepress functions to Pittsburgh and the outsourcing of classified ad sales.
Lillian Covarrubias, president of the Toledo Newspaper Guild, which represents Blade employees, said it is too early in the negotiation processes to comment on proposed cuts.
The union’s current contract was effective May 29, 2007 to May 31, 2010. The estimated cost savings from the first-round proposal are based on a March 1, 2011 implementation.
Luann Sharp, assistant managing editor at The Blade, told Toledo Free Press to contact Steve Spolar, director of human resources for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade, for comment. At press time, Spolar did not return calls for comment.